Rethinking Ethiopia’s Land Management System
By admin December 13, 2016

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In the past few years, African governments have strongly committed to tackling climate change. They have begun to actively react against visible environmental changes that today keep threatening local communities, in particular farmers’ lands. Through the Bonn Challenge and others initiatives, African governments are creating new initiatives to both prevent and rebuild from climate disasters. For instance, the AFR100 initiatives aim to restore nearly 100 million hectares, an area roughly the size of Ethiopia, by 2030. These commitments are the right approach as the African continent has been hardly and repeatedly hit by climate change calamities more than any other region worldwide.

Ethiopia has recently announced a state of emergency as escalating protests and conflicts have concluded in many civilians being killed. The conflict has multiple faces with strong ethnic divisions and resentment against certain elites’ control of power and wealth. The crisis began last year when severe droughts caused livestock deaths, disease outbreaks, food, and nutritional insecurity in many areas of the country. At the same time, disputes were triggered over land ownership and many people rose up against the government’s land management policies. Indeed, Ethiopia’s land mismanagement contributed to the humanitarian crisis as much as competition for arable land created the conditions to the Rwandan genocide. Moreover, nowadays, food insecurity, disease outbreaks and poverty are at the core of the migrant crisis.

Climate change has widely threatened global stability and damaged rural economies. According Mamadou Diakhite, who leads work on sustainable land and water management for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD Agency), 65 percent of the African land has been affected by degradation and 3 percent of agricultural GDP has been lost due to soil and nutrient loss on farmland. In the case of Ethiopia, agriculture is a fundamental driver of employment, accounting for nearly 80 percent of people working in this sector. Therefore, even small and apparently insignificant drops in agricultural productivity can highly affect the economy of the country.

However, there are solutions to land degradation that countries highly affected by climate change calamities such as Ethiopia should apply. For instance, tree planting can increase agricultural productivity by increasing soil fertility and providing shade for crops and livestock. Efforts have to be made by all levels of society including farmers. Restoration of degraded lands can represent a sustainable solution for sub-Saharan countries. For this to happen, communities must be involved, and especially farmers must be empowered of restoring their own land. Ethiopia has already started doing that as every chief of villages (Abraha Atsbeha) commit three days each month to rehabilitate the surrounding landscape.

Land restoration can represent also huge financial opportunities for businesses and investors as the number of small and medium-size enterprises focusing on land restoration is increasing. Indeed, land restoration does not simply represent a choice but it is a real necessity. Land degradation is spreading fast across the developing world as climate change issues keep rising. In the long-term, better policies at national and local levels can make a big difference and set a precedent to be followed worldwide.

For more information:

Ethiopia drought – 2015-2016

Ethiopia’s previously divided ethnic groups are unifying to protest against the government

Ethiopia declares state of emergency after months of protests

Environmental causes and impacts of the genocide in Rwanda

Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought

Thanks for sharing !

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