Tag Archives: Aid

El Nino in East Africa: Update on Eritrea

In the Horn of Africa, a drought exacerbated by El Niño has directly affected the region, leading to an increase in food insecurity and malnutrition. This post presents an update on Eritrea.
According to a recent summary report by FEWS NET (a USAID-funded initiative),

“Consistent and above-average rain over the past few weeks has led to moisture surpluses throughout much of Eastern Africa. Torrential rain is forecast to continue over western Sudan and the highlands of Ethiopia and Eritrea, likely to elevate the River Nile and Al Gash River levels further and potentially resulting in flooding over many areas of Sudan during the next week.”

Furthermore, the report notes that,

“While the abundance of seasonal rain is expected favor cropping activities over many areas of the region, frequent and above-average rain over the western Ethiopian and Eritrean Highlands also raises the Nile and Al Gash River levels and thus increases the risks for river flooding along downstream areas in Sudan. For next week, the probability for above-average precipitation remains quite high…”
As well, a late July 2016 report by the FAO and the Global Information and Early Warning System, Good Prospects for Yields of 2016 Main “Kiremti” Season Crops, details that,

“The 2016 “kiremti” rains (June to September) started on time in Debud, Anseba and Gash-Barka regions, favouring land preparation and planting operations. As shown by satellite imagery, crops and pasture in most inland areas are currently in good conditions due to abundant and well‑distributed precipitation.”
Encouragingly, although vegetation health in some areas in the northern Anseba and southern Gash-Barka regions has been negatively impacted by soil moisture deficits, the report also states that the,

“Latest meteorological forecasts for the period from June to September 2016 indicate an increased likelihood of above normal rainfall amounts over most of the country, with expected positive effects on crop yields.”
This positive outlook is paralleled by the WFP which recently claimed that “the forecasts for the main rainfall season of July-October indicate on or above average rainfall across Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea.” This is significant since it should promote favourable and improved crop production and pasture resources across the country. Furthermore, the FAO and WFP’s recently published 2016/2017 El Nino Seasonal Overview, which explores the ongoing and future impact of El Nino, suggests that Eritrea will be “moderately affected.”
Additionally, on 16 August 2016, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, released US$50 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for severely underfunded aid operations in six neglected emergencies, including Eritrea. Specifically, the press release states,

“An allocation of $2 million will support humanitarian partners in Eritrea in responding to current needs due to arid conditions and poor rains. Additionally, gaps in health care, water, sanitation and hygiene services will be addressed.” Furthermore, the aid will also help address the multi-sector needs of over 2,200 Somali refugees in Eritrea.

Importantly, this will continue to support Eritrea’s broad developmental aims. Notably, the United Nations and various other international partners have had a long presence in Eritrea, collaborating with the Government and other stakeholders to work towards a variety of socio-economic and development priorities. For example, the UN operational presence in Eritrea includes the WHO, UNICEF, UNHCR, UNFPA, UNAIDS, FAO, OCHA and UNDSS, while the WFP  maintains a liaison office, and non-resident UN Agencies (such as IFAD, IAEA, UNIDO, ILO, and UNEP) are also represented and work in Eritrea.
In 2015,  US$ 3 million was allocated by UN CERF to support a range of development programmes (e.g. health, nutrition, etc.) in Southern Red Sea (SRS), Northern Red Sea (NRS), Debub, Gash Barka and Anseba regions. This was undertaken in close alignment and coordination with the 2013-2016 Strategic Partnership Cooperation Framework (SPCF). The  SPCF, jointly signed by the UN and Eritrea, focuses on an array of programmes in the nutrition, health, food security, and water, sanitation and hygiene sectors.
As a final point, it is important to properly understand Eritrea’s “unconventional” approach to external aid. Specifically,  Eritrea turns down aid when it does not fit the country’s needs or its capacity to use effectively. Eritrea does not reject external support – it actively welcomes it, but only when it complements the country’s own efforts. The Government has long encouraged aid that addresses specific needs which cannot be met internally, which is designed to minimize continued external support, and which complements and strengthens (instead of replacing) Eritrea’s own institutional capacity to implement projects. This approach is rooted in a strong desire to avoid crippling dependence and to foster a clear sense of responsibility for the country’s future among all citizens.

Unfortunately, this approach is often misunderstood (or even dismissed). Instead, the country’s determination to rely upon itself and promote independence should be encouraged, and external organizations and potential partners should be committed to working with it on that basis.

Figure 1: Total US Foreign Aid – 2016/17 ($US Millions)

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Figure 2: UN CERF Project Allocations by Sector (2006-2015)

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Image 1: Local market in Eritrea

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Image 2: Local market in Eritrea

market

(Image 2 credit: Solomon Abraha [@solomonasmara])

 

 


Why is the one of the world’s leading foreign aid recipients spending millions on internet hacking?

Last week, a large trove of emails was released showing how the Italian surveillance firm Hacking Team sold surveillance technology to governments around the world. The technology allows governments to infect smartphones and computers with malware to covertly record conversations and steal data. Amongst the numerous governments implicated was Ethiopia, with the leaked information showing that the government targeted Ethiopian journalists based in the United States. The Ethiopian regime possesses a deplorable record on freedom of the press, and the Ethiopian diaspora is vital in presenting coverage of the country’s domestic situation.

 

Notably, the leaked documents reveal how Hacking Team charged the Ethiopian regime $1 million in 2012 for services, while in recent years the regime has been one of the firm’s top clients (by total sales revenue). Somewhat amusingly, the emails also reveal that Hacking Team considered the Ethiopian government too “reckless and clumsy” in its use of the surveillance tools and thus representing a threat to expose the firm and its activities.

 

With little question, the leaked documents underscore the Ethiopian government’s status as a repressive regime with amongst the world’s worst records on human rights and free speech. However, serious questions arise when the leaked documents are considered alongside the fact that Ethiopia is one of the world’s largest recipients of foreign economic assistance. For decades, various despotic Ethiopian regimes have been highly dependent on foreign aid. In 2012, it was the world’s seventh largest recipient of official humanitarian aid and received $3.2 billion in total assistance, the latter figure representing between 50-60 percent of its total budget. Moreover, Ethiopia’s 2011 share of total official development assistance – approximately 4 percent – placed it behind only Afghanistan, while over the years, the country has received tens of millions of dollars in western (especially US) military assistance. Ironically, just last week, the annual Global Humanitarian Assistance Report was published, revealing that across 2004-2013, Ethiopia was the world’s fourth largest recipient of foreign assistance, collecting US$5.9 billion.

 

Last week’s revelations mean that donors must ask why exactly is one of the world’s poorest countries, with a host of socio-economic and development challenges, spending large sums of money to illegally monitor journalists, rather than feed or clothe its people? While the international community has a moral imperative to assist governments and people around the world who are in need of help, it must also commit to ensuring that assistance is utilized appropriately. Otherwise, the international community becomes complicit in the oppression of the people it allegedly claims to want to help.

 

IMAGE 1

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Ethiopia’s $1 million bill from Hacking Team.

 

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A leaked email reveals that Hacking Team considers the Ethiopian government “reckless and clumsy” and thus a threat to expose the firm and its activities.

 

IMAGE 3

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Hacking Team’s Total Revenues per Country; Ethiopia is one of the firm’s top clients.


Multidimensional Poverty – important data from the OPHI

According to former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, “wherever we lift one soul from a life of poverty, we are defending human rights. And whenever we fail in this mission, we are failing human rights.”[1] However, in order to combat poverty (and thus fulfill rights), we must understand it. In this context, the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI) represents a useful step forward. The OPHI aims to build and advance a more systematic methodological and economic framework for reducing multidimensional poverty in several ways, including: improving data, building capacity, and impacting policy.[2] Amongst the OPHI’s key contributions is its Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). The MPI provides multidimensional measures of poverty, well-being and inequality, going far beyond traditional one-dimensional approaches to incorporate dimensions such as health, education, living standards, quality of work and more innovative dimensions.[3]

The latest edition of the MPI covers 110 developing countries (a total of approximately 5.4 billion people), and 803 regions in 72 of these countries. The 10 countries with the lowest scores on the MPI were (in descending order, and with MPI figures in brackets),[4]

  • Burundi (0.454)
  • Mali (0.457)
  • Guinea (0.459)
  • Guinea-Bissau (0.462)
  • Sierra Leone (0.464)
  • Somalia (0.514)
  • Burkina Faso (0.535)
  • Chad (0.554)
  • Ethiopia (0.564)
  • Niger (0.605)

Table 1

OPHI: Multidimensional Poverty Index 2014/15*

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Further exploring the MPI reveals what percentage of the population are both MPI poor and are deprived within each particular indicator. For example, the region with the highest rates of people who are multidimensionally poor and simultaneously deprived in nutrition is Affar, Ethiopia, while the region with the most child mortality is Nord-Ouest, Cote d’Ivoire. The region most deprived in sanitation is Karamoja, Uganda, while Wad Fira, Chad is most deprived in drinking water, electricity, and years of schooling. Examining sub-national regions and inequality, Nigeria has the most extreme regional differences in multidimensional poverty: in Lagos, 8.5 percent of people are multidimensionally poor, whereas in Zamfara, the figure is 91.9 percent. It is also noteworthy that nearly 60 percent of people living in the world’s poorest regions are actually not in the least developed countries.[5]

Overall, poverty remains the gravest human rights challenge facing the world today.[6] In combating poverty, the world has “a moral obligation to look more deeply at the issues of poverty so the most marginalised groups or regions [are] not left behind.”[7] The OPHI’s Multidimensional Poverty Index shows not only who is poor but also in what ways, ultimately helping to better understand poverty and shape more effective policies and reduction measures.

 

REFERENCES

[1] LINK

[2] http://www.ophi.org.uk/

[3] The MPI figure given as the percentage of the population in multidimensional poverty multiplied by the intensity of deprivation among the poor.

[4] The MPI figure given as the percentage of the population in multidimensional poverty multiplied by the intensity of deprivation among the poor.

[5] http://www.ophi.org.uk/multidimensional-poverty-index/mpi-2014-2015/

http://oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/big-new-databank-on-multidimensional-poverty-launched-today/?utm_content=buffer48ab2&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

[6] http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CDAQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ohchr.org%2FDocuments%2FPublications%2FPovertyStrategiesen.pdf&ei=7qC6VNuMHISfggT5pYBo&usg=AFQjCNEVWu9sEZ4nM_K_BEIpGxhQGtulvQ&sig2=maQRjwqrl3-OEjsYzKFbXw&bvm=bv.83829542,d.eXY

[7] LINK

* *Note that MPI ranges from 0-1. However, the scale in Table 1 runs from 0-100.

Explore the OPHI and MPI: http://www.ophi.org.uk/multidimensional-poverty-index/mpi-2014-2015/


World Bank Global Economic Prospects Report: Quick note on Eritrea’s 2015-2017 Outlook

The World Bank cut its forecast for global growth this year. According to its semiannual Global Economic Prospects report,[i] released today in Washington, the world economy will expand 3 percent in 2015, down from a projection of 3.4 percent in June.[ii]

Developing economies are expected to see an increase in growth from 4.4 percent in 2014 to 4.8 percent and 5.3 percent in 2015 and 2016, respectively. For Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) specifically, the period 2015-2017 is expected to see real GDP growth (from previous year) of 4.6, 4.9, and 5.1 percent. Influential factors include infrastructure investment, increased agriculture production, and buoyant services, however the positive outlook is subject to downside risks arising from a renewed spread of the Ebola epidemic, violent insurgencies, lower commodity prices, and volatile global financial conditions.

For Eritrea, the next 3 years, according to the report, are projected to produce real GDP growth of 3.0, 4.0, and 4.3 percent. These projections are slightly lower than those by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which projects Eritrea’s growth to be 7.3 and 6.8 percent in 2015 and 2016.[iii] However, even with the discrepancy, the sharp global oil price decline will support improvements in Eritrea’s trade balance (since it is an oil- importer). Specifically, across 2014-2017, the changes in its trade balance due to terms of trade effects are expected to improve by approximately 3 percent of GDP, amongst the largest in SSA (on the whole, SSA is expected to be adversely affected by the sustained decline in commodity prices).

Overall, for Eritrea, as well as other low-income, developing countries, such economic growth can be central to poverty reduction and broader development goals. For example, between 1970 and 2010, growth in average per capita income accounted for three- quarters of the income growth of the poor.3 In particular, a significant part of poverty reduction was attributed to growth in labor income.[iv] Increases in labor income are associated with a reduction in poverty through at least two channels. First, growth in the agricultural sector, the primary source of income for the poor, raises incomes more than growth in less labor-intensive sectors, in particular the natural resource sector. Second, the movement of labor from the low-productivity agriculture sector to the higher-productivity manufacturing and service sectors raises labor incomes, including of those of the poor.[v]

REFERENCES

[i] http://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/global-economic-prospects

[ii] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-13/world-bank-cuts-global-growth-outlook-with-u-s-lone-bright-spot.html?hootPostID=67b113847d7c95651fe373d6cfe324d7

[iii] www.un.org/en/development/desa/…/geo201410.pdf

[iv]a) Inchauste, G. J.P. Azevedo, B. Essama-Nssah, S. Olivieri, T. Van Nguyen, J. Saavedra-Chanduvi, and H. Winkler. 2014. “Understanding Changes in Poverty.” World Bank, Washington, DC.

b) Inchauste, G., and J. Saavedra-Chanduvi. 2013. “Opportunity Knocks: Deepening Our Understanding of Poverty Reduc- tion,” In Understanding Changes in Poverty, ed. Gabriela Inchauste, João Pedro Azevedo, B. Essama-Nssah, Sergio Olivieri, Trang Van Nguyen, Jaime Saavedra-Chanduvi, and Hernan Winkler, 1–12. Washington, DC: World Bank.

[v]a) Kuznets, S. 1955. “Economic Growth and Income Inequality.” American Economic Review 45 (1): 1–28.

b) Chenery, H. 1979. Structural Change and Development Policy. New York: Oxford University Press.

c) Ngai, L. R., and C. Pissarides. 2008. “Employment Outcomes in the Welfare State.” CEP Discussion Papers 0856, Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics.

 


Mendefera Factory: Menstrual Pads, Education, and Empowerment

It was nice to see Dr. Sleemi’s photo of a factory in Mendefera, Eritrea. The factory manufactures menstrual pads which are distributed to girls in middle and high school. This initiative is important since it promotes equality, empowerment, and general development.

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Throughout Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and the developing world, millions of girls either skip school during menstruation or drop out entirely because of a lack of hygiene solutions – thus ultimately harming their (and the community’s or the nation’s) potential. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 10% of African girls skipped school during menstruation, with many girls missing up to 25% of the academic year or simply dropping out. Girls failing to complete secondary school are more likely to get HIV or become pregnant when they are young, and they are also more likely to have a greater number of children and earn lower wages. As well, studies have found that girls with access to menstrual pads report benefits to their self-esteem. Furthermore, girls with access to menstrual pads are able to concentrate better in school, witness increases in their self confidence, and they are able to fully participate in more daily activities while on their period. At the same time, they report that feelings of shame, isolation, and embarrassment improved.

As Eritrea continues to focus on a variety of national development challenges (including literacy, enrolment, and educational disparities), programs and initiatives like the Mendefera factory should be augmented and receive support.

web-St-Joe-Keren-girls-300x255

More materials:

Dr. A. Sleemi (MD, MP): @globalgyno

https://fiqre4eri.wordpress.com/category/education/

http://www.path.org/projects/sanitary-pads.php

http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/08/east-africa-breaks-the-silence-on-menstruation-to-keep-girls-in-school/

http://www.care2.com/causes/monthly-joy-access-to-sanitary-products-may-lead-to-better-education-for-kenyan-girls.html


Examining Ethiopia: Bahir Dar, Defections, and Indonesia.

ethiopian-prime-minister-hailemariam-desalegn-r-shakes-hands-u-s-secretary-state-john-kerry

As 2014 draws to a close, the recent defection of several high-level Ethiopian military personnel,[i] and the Ethiopian government’s bloody crackdown on protests in Bahir Dar[ii] highlight serious questions about Ethiopia’s tense internal socio-political situation and the West’s ongoing support for Ethiopia’s repressive government.

 

Late last week, in Bahir Dar, several people were killed and many others wounded after police abruptly opened fire on protesters defending a sacred site against government-sponsored demolition.[iii]On the heels of the crackdown, several military pilots and a technician absconded with MI-35 helicopters; notably, the defections are only the latest in a series of similar such high-profile desertions.

 

Although Ethiopia has witnessed several years of respectable economic growth, last week’s developments reflect “the politics of fear” that pervades Ethiopia’s socio-political landscape, and emphasize the country’s significant “challenges concerning human rights, political competition, good governance, and corruption.”[iv] Earlier this year, Ethiopian authorities arrested nine journalists and bloggers, subsequently denying them access to lawyers, family, and colleagues. They have been held on allegations they work for foreign human rights groups or used social media to incite violence.[v] Such allegations have become common-place, as Ethiopia’s highly-controversial anti-terrorism laws allow the government to hand down long sentences to anyone who “writes, edits, prints, publishes, publicizes, [or] disseminates” statements the government considers terrorism.[vi] The arrests of the bloggers coincided with mass non-violent protests led by students in the central Oromia region,[vii] ultimately seeing numerous protestors killed, wounded, and arrested.[viii][ix]

 

Furthermore, the Ethiopian army has systematically engaged in executions, rape, torture, arbitrary arrests, and various other abuses in its ongoing brutal counter-insurgency against the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).[x]Ethnic groups residing within and around the region have endured arbitrary detentions, torture, and mistreatment in detention, as well as severe restrictions on movement and commercial trade, and minimal access to independent relief assistance. Effectively, such abuses constitute direct threats to their survival.[xi]

 

As well, weeks ago, TV4 reported that H&M, the popular Swedish clothing company, has purchased cotton from regions in Ethiopia where land-grabbing and forced displacement have occurred.[xii] Problematically, a central component of Ethiopia’s developmental and agricultural strategy involves “villagization,” a program entailing the relocation of millions of people from locations reserved for industrial plantations.[xiii]Villagization has long been condemned by international organizations,[xiv] since it leads to greater food insecurity, a destruction of livelihoods, and the loss of cultural heritage of ethnic groups. Ethiopia’s program, which utilizes forced evictions, has been plagued by a plethora of human rights violations, with a variety of human rights groups documenting beatings, killings, rapes, imprisonment, intimidation, and political coercion by the government and authorities.[xv]

 

With national elections on the horizon (scheduled for May 2015), the potential for further instability, discord, and popular revolt loom large, especially considering past precedent. In 2005, following national elections widely believed to have been rigged, the Ethiopian government, under the late, authoritarian leader Meles Zenawi, “massacred” hundreds of protestors, many of them teenagers.[xvi] Moreover, in recent years, massive protests by the Blue Party opposition group and Muslim groups, have ended in deaths, repression, and state violence.[xvii] Finally, in November, a 166-page report on the plight of the Oromo people in Ethiopia was released.[xviii] Concluding that the Oromo people have suffered “sweeping” repression in Ethiopia, the report detailed that between 2011 and 2014, more than 5000 Oromos have been arrested based on their opposition to the government, with the majority of those arrested being peaceful protestors or members of opposition parties.[xix] Looking towards the 2015 elections, Berhanu Nega, Professor of Economics at Bucknell University and former leader of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy in Ethiopia, asserts that the Ethiopian government can “never have free and fair elections.” Specifically, according to Nega,

 

“[t]he reason why there’s so much repression, the reason why there’s so much muzzling of the press, the reason why the Ethiopian government is arresting opposition figures inside the country is precisely because they know that this is a despised government. It cannot last a day in an environment of freedom. This is a government that will lose catastrophically if there were [a] free and fair election.”[xx]

 

Last, it is noteworthy that Ethiopia’s various internal challenges are compounded by its transgressions which extend beyond its borders. Specifically, Ethiopia has continued to occupy sovereign territory of its northern neighbor, Eritrea, in direct violation of international law, and in blatant contravention of the rulings of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission.[xxi] The 12-year-long military occupation has frozen any possibility of developmental cooperation or economic partnership between the two countries, and the military occupation is seen as an influential factor to much of the instability within the Horn of Africa region.

 

In seeking to address Ethiopia’s flagrant dismissal of international norms and laws, a variety of measures could plausibly be undertaken (e.g. sanctions). However, the first, and possibly most far-reaching and effective response by the international community should be to withdraw its unwavering support for the repressive Ethiopian government. George Galloway, respected British politician, broadcaster, and writer, has often voiced concern of how the West’s (led by the US and UK) support for dictatorial, tyrannical regimes results in harming the populations of those countries. Regarding Ethiopia, Galloway has decried how the UK and US policy of encouraging, arming, training, financing, and facilitating the Ethiopian government’s “reign of terror” is “morally vacuous.”[xxii]Similarly, renowned international economist, William Easterly, has recommended that the international community “stop financing tyranny and repression” in Ethiopia.[xxiii]

 

An indication of the possible far-reaching effects of removing external support for a harsh, brutal regime can be seen in the example of Indonesia. Professor Noam Chomsky (MIT) has written and spoken extensively on how US and western support for the despotic regime in Indonesia played an indirect, yet extremely harmful role in the carnage and deaths of hundreds of thousands in East Timor.[xxiv] However, in 1999, after much pressure, the US finally “pulled the plug” on its support for the Suharto regime, quickly leading to the cessation of Indonesia’s brutal campaign. Specifically,

 

“[f]or 25 years, the United States strongly supported the vicious Indonesian invasion and massacre, a virtual genocide. It was happening right through 1999, as the Indonesian atrocities increased and escalated, after Dili the capital city was practically evacuated. After Indonesian attacks, the US was still supporting it. Finally, in mid-September 1999, under considerable international and also domestic pressure, Clinton quietly told the Indonesian generals “It’s finished.” And they had said they’d never leave, they said “this is our territory.” They pulled out within days, and allowed a UN peacekeeping force to enter without Indonesian military resistance. Well, you know, that’s a dramatic indication of what can be done.”

 

While the socio-political dynamics and historical contexts of Indonesia and Ethiopia are quite different, the comparison presents several clear similarities. Both regimes received decades-worth of external economic, military, and political support (particularly from the US). Additionally, both regimes systematically and persistently violated human rights, transgressed various international laws – such as through military occupation, and engaged in large-scale campaigns characterized as “genocidal.” Consequently, with Ethiopia continuing to overlook basic international norms, standards, and laws, the international community must end its complicity in and (in)direct support for Ethiopia’s various transgressions. As Clinton relayed to Indonesia’s leadership, the international community must tell Ethiopia, “It’s finished.”

 

REFERENCES

[i] http://www.tesfanews.net/two-ethiopian-pilots-abscond-with-two-mi-35-attack-helicopters/

[ii] http://ethiopia-chat.com/esat-breaking-news-19-december-2014-huge-protest-in-bahir-dar-ethiopia/

[iii] http://www.tesfanews.net/ethiopia-3-killed-scores-wounded-in-bahir-dar-protest/#gyAzuOrAISVspgYi.99

[iv]http://allafrica.com/stories/201412200102.html?utm_source=December+22+2014+EN&utm_campaign=12%2F22%2F2014&utm_medium=email

[v] http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2014/apr/30/press-freedom-ethiopia?CMP=twt_gu

[vi] http://www.newsweek.com/ethiopias-war-homosexuals-224457

[vii] http://thinkafricapress.com/ethiopia/addis-ababa-sleeping-beauty-no-longer-student-protests-police-response-oromo

[viii] https://twitter.com/BBCAfrica/status/461849684974505984

[ix]  1) http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27251331

2) http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1126651

[x] http://www.hrw.org/node/74305

[xi] http://www.hrw.org/features/ogaden-war-crimes-ethiopia-0

[xii] https://fiqre4eri.wordpress.com/

[xiii] http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/development-aid-ethiopia

[xiv] http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/ethiopia0112webwcover_0.pdf

[xv] http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/development-aid-ethiopia

[xvi] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6064638.stm

[xvii] 1) http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/ethiopian-repression-muslim-protests-must-stop-2013-08-08

2) http://www.irinnews.org/report/96787/

3) http://www.voanews.com/content/new-ethiopian-blue-party-tries-again-to-demonstrate/1741733.html

[xviii] http://oromopress.blogspot.ca/

[xix] http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR25/006/2014/en

[xx] http://www.voanews.com/content/former-us-diplomat-calls-for-free-fair-elections-in ethiopia/2568689.html

[xxi] http://www.pca-cpa.org/showpage.asp?pag_id=1150

[xxii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcxfrnRkwDQ

[xxiii] http://www.tesfanews.net/stop-financing-tyranny-like-in-ethiopia-william-easterly/

[xxiv] http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199910–.htm


Can the US mediate Egypt and Ethiopia’s water dispute?: US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s lessons from the Ethiopia-Eritrea stalemate.

Earlier this week, US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, questioned several expert witnesses at a hearing entitled “Water Sharing Conflicts and the Threat to International Peace.”[i] While the primary focus of the hearing was on the ongoing Ethiopia-Egypt Nile dispute, an extremely interesting point was raised by Rep. Rohrabacher regarding Eritrea. Specifically, when discussing a potential US arbitration or mediation role in the Ethiopia and Egypt disagreement, Rep. Rohrabacher outlined the US’ failure in arbitrating the Eritrea-Ethiopia 1998-2000 war. Rep. Rohrabacher stated:

“Let’s just note that, we did convince the Ethiopians at one point to agree to arbitration of a major dispute that they were in with Eritrea. And, this happened during the last administration, so you’ll know this is not a partisan remark, but I thought the behavior of our government in that whole episode was disgraceful, and has undermined our ability to arbitrate other disputes in the sense that Ethiopia, the decision of the arbiters went against Ethiopia in their border dispute with Eritrea…and we extracted some kind of other deal with them to help us with some sort of defense related deal…and let them off the hook, basically said they didn’t have to follow their arbitration, which meant the message to all of Africa was you don’t…you better skip out the arbitration because that just doesn’t work, even the Americans are going to discard it, what the result is. That was very sad.”[ii]

Rep. Rohrabacher’s comments raise serious questions about any possible US mediation role between Egypt and Ethiopia. What is further striking is his acknowledgement of the US’ utter failure in mediating the Ethiopia-Eritrea 1998-2000 war. Not only were the US’ actions wrong ethically, they proved to be great strategic blunders, since they led to more tension and conflict. Ethiopia has continued to occupy swathes of sovereign Eritrean territory, in direct violation of international law, and in blatant contravention of the rulings of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission.[iii] Moreover, the US’ harmful role was further compounded when Ethiopia – supported by the US – invaded Somalia in 2006, leading to a sharp rise in terror and insecurity in the region.

For over a decade, Eritrea has been the scapegoat for the ills of the Horn of Africa – sanctioned, characterized as intransigent, and bearing the brunt of the blame for the region’s instability, conflicts, and tensions. In direct contrast, Ethiopia has been held up as a strong US and western partner, receiving millions of dollars in aid. In 2011, it was the world’s fifth largest recipient of official humanitarian aid and received $3.6B in total assistance,[iv] representing between 50-60 percent of its total budget.[v] Additionally, Ethiopia’s 2011 share of total official development assistance – approximately 4 percent – placed it behind only Afghanistan.

While it is notable that US politicians, such as Rep. Rohrabacher, have begun to recognize – and publicly acknowledge – their administration’s mistakes in the region, much more tangible steps are required to ameliorate the situation and rectify past mistakes. With Ethiopia possessing a critical dependency on foreign aid, the US should end all assistance to the country unless Ethiopia abides by international law and respects Eritrea’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

REFERENCES

[i] Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats. Water Sharing Conflicts and the Threat to International Peace. 2255 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515. Nov 18, 2014 2:00pm

[ii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1O1io-f-itY&feature=youtu.be (begins at 6:20)

[iii] http://www.pca-cpa.org/showpage.asp?pag_id=1150

[iv] http://www.globalhumanitarianassistance.org/countryprofile/ethiopia

[v] http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/sites/oaklandinstitute.org/files


Hunger, Africa, Indices, and the need for Accuracy

Today, the 2014 Global Hunger Index (GHI) was released. The GHI is put together by the The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), who seek sustainable solutions for ending hunger and poverty. The GHI, as well as IFPRI’s work in general, are important because high quality research can “shape policies, investments, and programs, contributing to a productive, sustainable and resilient agricultural and food system.”
That said, one concern with the GHI is the data utilized. Specifically, the GHI uses “the most recent country-level data available for the three component indicators”:

-Prevalence of underweight children (under five years of age, as a %)
-Under-five mortality rate (as a %)
-Proportion of undernourished in the population (as a %).

While some countries may have indicators that are current, other countries may only reflect outdated, likely now-inaccurate figures. Consequently, the GHI for the latter countries may offer a skewed, incorrect assessment of hunger. For example, in calculating Eritrea’s overall GHI for 2014, data used for “prevalence of underweight children (under five years of age, as a %)” come from the WHO’s figures – from 2002. Considering Eritrea’s general success in the UN MDGs – it is amongst the only countries to achieve the large majority of them – its figures for prevalence of underweight children will likely have reduced.

Ultimately, poor, inaccurate data or unreliable estimates frequently lead to ineffective, inefficient policies or solutions to developmental challenges and issues. With global hunger such a pressing issue, it is important to offer clear, accurate estimates that can support evidence-based decision making for hunger reduction or other dimensions of socio-economic development.


Truman to Obama, Selassie to Desalegn: The US’ Longstanding Infatuation with Ethiopian Autocrats

Lost amidst all of the mainstream topics receiving attention at the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) – including, inter alia, a post-2015 agenda, climate change and the environment, conflicts involving ISIL/ISIS, Iraq and Syria, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Gaza, and the ongoing tensions between Ukraine and Russia – has been US President Obama’s meeting with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.[i] Although during the meeting Obama outlined Ethiopia as a bright spot, an example of progress, and a leader “when it comes to security and trying to resolve…longstanding conflicts,”[ii] his comments appear shortsighted, while the meeting itself was described by William Easterly, distinguished international scholar, as a continuance of US Presidents’ longstanding infatuation with Ethiopian autocrats.[iii]

Since the end of the World War 2, Ethiopia has been led by a succession of brutal, autocratic leaders:

  • Haile Selassie was a despotic tyrant who ruled oppressively, enslaved innumerable peasants via a draconian feudal system, and illegally annexed Eritrea.[iv]
  • Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam, who overthrew Selassie, oversaw a reign of terror characterized by widespread violations of international humanitarian law and war crimes. In repressing self-determination efforts in Eritrea and other areas, civilians were deliberately targeted and fell victim by the hundreds of thousands as a result of the indiscriminate violence against them. Further, his regime’s “villagization” program played a direct role in the further nearly half a million civilian deaths during the late 1980s.[v]
  • Prime Minister Meles Zenawi ruled Ethiopia for 20 years with dictatorial ruthlessness. His tenure was marked by the cracking down on civil society organizations and journalists, the illegal invasion and occupation of several neighboring countries (e.g. Somalia and Eritrea), the exclusion and marginalization of several of Ethiopia’s major ethnolinguistic and religious groups from political and economic life, the denial of humanitarian and food aid from “disloyal” segments of the country, and a counterinsurgency involving “war crimes and crimes against humanity.”[vi]
  • Prime Minister Desalegn, who came to power following Zenawi’s mysterious and abrupt death, has maintained the previous regime’s longstanding harsh policies. Ethiopia has continued to crack down on all dissent via highly-controversial anti-terrorism laws, sustained the marginalization or persecution of various ethnolinguistic groups or homosexuals, retained the criticized villagization programs, and engaged in an ongoing counter-insurgency against the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) – utilizing executions, rape, torture, arbitrary arrests, and various other abuses. [vii]

In addition to the long history of massive rights violations and oppression within Ethiopia, a constant theme has been the unyielding support of various US administrations. Specifically, each American administration – from Harry S. Truman to the current tenure of Barack Obama – has provided Ethiopia with significant sums of economic aid (in addition to various forms of political, diplomatic, and military support).

Figure 1

US Economic Aid to Ethiopia: Truman to Obama (1946-2011)*

AIDETHIO

With Ethiopia’s persistent and flagrant disregard for human rights and international norms continuing unabated, it is time for a drastic shift in approach from the US and international community. More needs to be done to change the country’s deplorable record; Obama can begin by withdrawing assistance to Ethiopia, unless it significantly improves it various domestic infractions and transgressions of international laws. Effectively, the world – the US most of all – has appeased the Ethiopian government for far too long, blandishing it with vast sums of aid, while witnessing little improvement in the country’s human rights record or the outlook of its poorest and most marginalized.

REFERENCES

[i] http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/25/remarks-president-obama-and-prime-minister-desalegn-ethiopia-bilateral-m

[ii] http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/25/remarks-president-obama-and-prime-minister-desalegn-ethiopia-bilateral-m

[iii] https://twitter.com/bill_easterly/status/515520607812091904

[iv] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/1003749.stm

[v] http://www.hrw.org/news/1999/11/24/ethiopian-dictator-mengistu-haile-mariam

[vi] a) http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/08/a-modern-dictator-why-ethiopias-zenawi-mattered/261412/

b) http://www.hrw.org/features/ogaden-war-crimes-ethiopia-0

[vii] a) http://www.newsweek.com/ethiopias-war-homosexuals-224457

b) http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/development-aid-ethiopia

c) http://www.hrw.org/node/74305

*Economic AID Data: USAID: US Overseas Loans and Grants Greenbook: Historical Dollars *http://gbk.eads.usaidallnet.gov/

EXTRA

William Easterly: “Stop financing tyranny, like in Ethiopia”                                                                                      http://www.tesfanews.net/stop-financing-tyranny-like-in-ethiopia-william-easterly/


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