I like it when it rains at night times. I don’t know about you people but I hope my insomniac friends know what I meant to say. The rainy season is not only a productive season but also a time to sleep well with a natural real sleepy sound track, the rain, for people like me. Listening to the rain as it hits the roof dropping from the sky, I would think of my future wife, prosperous life and slowly fall asleep like a baby. But somewhere on the streets, homeless people are awake cursing the rainy season or may be appreciating it or may be asleep and dreaming of a better tomorrow. So, is it wrong to like it when it’s raining at night times? Judgment is yours but that is the only time I sleep.
The other nights, when there is no rain, I would think of everything and never sleep a wink. I’d even think of what’s wrong with the man, who ate only pepper for lunch, like I don’t have my own business to mind. I would think of the increasing population of the city. One question that comes to my mind when I think about the population of Addis Ababa I feel like family planning has no place at all, If not, we wouldn’t be this many and continue growing every day.
I would think about a friend of mine who takes too many pills just to sleep and dozen more after he wakes up for his headache. Once I told him that he is not insomniac and he went crazy. Why? I don’t know. I guess he felt like I was trying to steal his insomnia. I remember the way he looked at me. It was like a man yelling at his wife who took custody of the kids on the ruling of the court. I could hear the voice in his head saying “How could you try to take my insomnia away from me?”
Speaking of ‘his insomnia’, I wonder why we human beings incline to take something for granted. We take all the natural resource from the underground and put back less. We speak proudly that we own the planet like the plants and other animal species are just creatures meant for the wellbeing of us. We say my land, my property, my money, my … everything.
The funniest part is that we even try to privatize disease. Ask someone who repeatedly experienced a painful headache, what’s wrong, when he is not feeling well. He would surely say “Uh my headache is killing me.”
These days if we don’t take care of our life style we all end up saying “my stroke, my diabetes, my hypertension etc”.
But the sense of claiming ownership to everything and even worse to disease is a symptom that our selfish nature is outraging and we need to do something about it. Did you see? I even said …our selfish nature and I’m still trying to own the thing I thought is bad.
Anyways this and many other that I’m thinking of when I don’t sleep at night as insomniac. Even though what we think of could be different, there are so many who are living with the problem. Scholars say that insomnia is the most common sleeping disorder and it’s usually the main reason people look for sleep remedies. There are varieties of causes but the most common are stress, anxiety, depression, excessive intake of stimulants, medication, allergies and respiratory problems, nocturia (a disturbance caused by frequent urination and constantly getting up to use the bathroom), and chronic pain.
In order to treat sleeping problems doctors could advise prescription drug but don’t you think the natural ways are preferable?
For instance one day I was walking back home from my office and suddenly a dog came out of nowhere chased me for a long distance. In the middle of this I was tired and stopped running. I thought the dog would bite me but he didn’t he was just playing. I was so mad that I made a coward out of myself for a dog. But I’ve also learned an important lesson, that physical exercise could be one remedy for sleeping problem, after I fall asleep that night like I never did before.
BY HENOK TIBEBU
Ethiopia needs new package of incentives and support schemes that go beyond giving recognition and awards to encourage innovators, practically reinforce their great ideas thrive and help nation cope up with the insanely competitive world of science and technology, particularly information technology.
Young innovators, entrepreneurs and businessmen who are eager to apply their original ideas will not be able to pursue their dreams of coming up with technological breakthroughs without a helping hand from the government and other stakeholders.
The introduction of substantial reinforcement mechanisms would significantly energize young innovators in their quest for new technologies that solve nation's multifaceted problems.
Samuel Merga, 20, a young innovator who tops elite international science and technology competitions tells The Ethiopian Herald that his success comes about with very little support from his parents.
“I have got the pleasure of going to India twice for science and technology competitions organized by Space Development Nexus (SDNx) in collaboration with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in August 2016 and March 2017,” says Samuel. The contest was on reconstructing a replica of Mars Rover, an automated motor vehicle which is currently in a mission at Planet Mars.
Despite the lack of support at home, Samuel was delighted by the opportunity he got as he not only won the fair but also acquired a great deal of scientific knowledge. In countries like India, talented children are identified at early age and receive maximum support so that they can thrive in their innovative ideas, Samuel stresses.
“That is why India is crowded with inventive minds. Unfortunately, the supports provided in our country do not go beyond mere rhetoric and prompt practical and game changing outcomes,” Samuel adds.
According to a study conducted by the Ethiopian Science and Technology Information Center, 96 percent of technologies developed by innovators in the country were neither commercialized nor in anyway used to generate income, signifying weakness in uplifting innovations to a decipherable success.
Mohammed Idris is Science and Technology Support, Incentive and Market Linkage Director at the Ministry of Science and Technology. He tells The Ethiopian Herald that the ministry has launched an incentive and support system in seven categories of scientific and technological inventions to primary and high schools, technical and vocational as well as higher learning institutions.
Accordingly, he adds “we have annual science and technology innovation week where competition is organized for innovators. The winners would receive financial awards, medals, and a certificate of recognition.”
In addition, of late the ministry has started to give financial support to innovators who successfully materialize their creative idea and have planned to go in to the market. This is encouraging but still not enough.
Examining how Kenya became the “cradle of Africa's technological innovation”, Newsweek once wrote that India’s experience and policy framework served as a benchmark and source of inspiration for growth in the face of real challenges in the East African nation. In addition, opportunities using mainstream internet access with efforts like subsidizing broadband for all universities and creating start-up hubs where entrepreneurs get access to high-speed internet were fertile grounds for innovators.
Speaking at a conference in Addis Ababa recently, Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, founder and CEO of blueMoon Ethiopia which aims to find the “sweet spot” between youth entrepreneurship, innovative ideas, and agribusiness in Ethiopia, explained that the biggest challenge for Ethiopian technological start up is the lack of “incubation centers” unlike some other African countries.
It is highly recommended that the nation should have an economic institution that works towards providing incentives to get advanced education, to save and invest, to innovate and adopt new technologies, and so on.
Dr. Eleni, reminding that, two-thirds of Ethiopians are under the age of 25, and one fifth of the population are aged between 15 to 24, said the future of Ethiopia is in the hands of the youth. Since this youth can transform Ethiopia with their vibrant ideas, ambitions, frustrations and dreams, a platform to discover, nurture, and fund their exceptional ideas is needed which currently is missing.
That is why Dr. Eleni came up with blueMoon Ethiopia, an initiative to identify and fund exceptional ideas among the youth that are innovative, scalable, and have huge transformational potential, she explained.
The initiative aims at providing skills training, working space, professional and managerial coaching, connections to investors and agencies, and seed funding to bring forth the ideas engraved in Ethiopia's youth.
Congruently for Samuel, support should go beyond hosting competitions and rewarding participants in science and technological innovations by practically creating favorable grounds for talented children to thrive in digital information technology creativity. “This is what they do in India. Kenya is also doing well. They are enabling their talented youth to come up with new ideas every time”, states Samuel. “After all it is the responsibility of the government to avail such opportunities.”
The government and other concerned stakeholders also need to focus on real and practical initiatives to turn great ideas, discoveries and inventions into tangible, problem solving, and money making products and services. This could be done through the establishment of an institutionalized system that links innovators to businesses.
Samuel is dreaming big, striving towards launching the first space satellite rooted in Ethiopia, almost single-handedly. There are thousands of youth in Ethiopia like Samuel, with their own version of new ideas and insights and struggling to be visible, in search of reinforcements to break in to the business world.
BY HOMA MULISA
Lots of books have long been written about the brutality of the Nazi's Holocaust but they are no where near to the diary of Anne Frank in terms of providing firsthand information and depicting the reality. Its originality together with its appealing emotions has changed the world's view of autobiography in many ways.
The diary which was born out of fear, repression and long period of hiding did not only tell the story of a single family but did vividly reveal how life was going on during the Nazi era. Anne was not just a graduate of literature nor did she was born to author parents, she was just a little girl that hailed from the destitute Jewish family, who witnessed the brutality of Adolf Hitler, but her book which started as a personal diary, has stood the test of time and appeared to be a living testimony at the centre of Jews' suffering. It is for this reason that many scholars
say any list of best-written autobiographies would be incomplete without Anne Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl,'
Equally similar, the autobiographies of famous personalities have brought a great impact on different aspects. There are other must read autobiographies ranging from Mahatma Gandhi's 'The Story of My Experiments with Truth' to Nelson Mandela's 'Long Walk to Freedom'.
Writing autobiography has already become the order of the day in many countries. From presidents to movie stars, the first thing they do after retirement is to write their own history or to have their stories written by others.
Unfortunately, except for some people, the life of the great sons and daughters of Ethiopia who did so much to the nation in different ways had passed untold and undocumented either by themselves by others. Only few are available in the shelves and book stores. Besides showing your achievements and life styles, reading autobiography and biography is also a great way to select mentors not just from the living one but from the past.
Autobiography is not only the story of one personality but it could also be a reflection of others' life and unforgettable memories. If written free from personal bias, autobiography apart from giving evidence about oneself, it substantiates great events and incidents from a single person of point of view. Though told from a single stands of views, the setting could help construct history specific happenings, says Worku Belachew graduate of MA in Intellectual History of Africa and Cultural studies.
Writing autobiography is almost construed as a taboo when it comes to Ethiopian culture. It is a wrongly perceived thought that to write about your life is considered to be a sign of self-praise. But there has been some attempts on different times. Emperor Haile Selassie I was the pioneer to write his own history in his “My Life and Ethiopia's Progress'. In spite of other few instances, the life of so many successful personalities have not been documented. These people neither wrote their own history nor did other authors wrote about them.
However, documenting your own history and life have many socioeconomic benefits. It may be used as a primary reference to big events and could be put in place as primary data in the study of particular history. Had the great kings, emperors and other people written their history, the reconstruction and construction of history would have been less likely, said Worku.
The indigenous knowledge including the architectural skills of our forefathers, those who built the Lalibela Rock-Hewen churchs could have been kept, had those involved in such works documented how they came to build these marvelous churches. Had this been the case, we could not have seen the gaps witnessed among generations.
Arguably it is the cultural and other aspects of intangible heritages including the indigenous knowledge of a certain group that brought the most remarkable tangible heritages such as the Laliblea and Axum to existence. Perhaps had we been able to preserve the architectural skills of our forefathers, we would have built other Lalibla-like edifices in numbers. That is why many believe that it is the intangible heritages if documented that give life to heritages into existence. And documentation is the best option available to maintain the indigenous and intangible knowledge of individuals.
In our search for meaning in life, each one of us has a vast amount of experience to draw upon. Our struggles and hardship, along with our achievements and blessings, teach us lessons. It if experience, the strength are part of the reason why one should tell life story.
Haymanot Ezera, is fond of reading autobiographies and biographies. She said as human being we search for new knowledge and philosophies of life styles and perspectives of the world. The easiest way to do so is to read the profile and experiences of others. “These books help us to get insight to alternative ideas and thoughts not just from fictional characters but also from a lived reality” she said.
All people have a story to tell that can enrich others' life through telling their triumphs and struggles. “ Sharing your life story will help others identify the core values and beliefs lessons of the successful people hold.”
For the writer, documenting own history would help him or her to leave mark commonly known as 'legacy'. When you need to be remembered for the good job you have done and wanted to pass your significant accomplishments to transform others' life, writing autobiography is the best way to do so, she further underlined.
Yet, one should not necessarily be a king or an official or a movie star to write own profile. Each one of us do pass through different paths and life style and writing own story would help other see alternatives to their won life style and experiences.
Looking at someone from a different era, a different background or a totally different set of life experiences will give you new perspective. In truth, most great innovations come from taking an idea from one situation, discipline or industry and adapting it to another. Reading biographies is one great way to do this.
BY DESTA GEBREHIWOT
Ethiopian wolf, an endemic carnivore species to Ethiopia continues to live mainly under the shadows of man made threats which experts warn its potential effect on Ethiopia's tourism as a significant portion of tourist arrival to the Bale Mountain depends on the very existence of this marvelous fauna.
At the forefront of Ethiopian endemic wild animal list is the spectacular Ethiopian wolf. Tourists for all over the world could not be more interested to have a glimpse on the handsome appearance and beauty of this wolf.
Almost 50 percent of the tourist who arrive at Bale National Park plan to see this endemic animal, says Edris Ibu, Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programe Manager.
The wolves, a naturally brave hunters with long muzzles and slim legs have tight social bonds that help them protect their precious family territories from competitors. But they are now giving up to human threats.
Today, there are fewer than 700, perhaps 500 wolves in the mountains of Bale, Arsi, Simien and Wollo, over half of whom live within the Bale Mountains National Park.
This rarely seen but most fascinating creature has been on the endangered list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature being as Africa’s rarest, and most threatened carnivore species, notes Woldemedhin Zebene Frankfurt Zoological Society.
Habitat destruction and expansion of farm land with growing population is what pose the worst threat to the endemic animal. Due to the pressure from humans, and domestic dogs, the wolves are now confined to tiny areas constantly being pushed up their sanctuary, Weldemedhin adds.
The impact is so huge that the country's place on the world tourism could diminish and the number of tourists could fall dramatically. “We need less rhetoric and high action. Lasting solutions should be put in place. We need to conduct study to know the scale of the problem,” wildlife conservation could not be materialized with out the active participation of the surrounding community who know the benefits of the wild specious well enough.
The surrounding community knows well enough that it has to conserve the creatures but do not have alternative options of source of livelihood, says Edris adding “unless their livelihoods can be brought into line with sustainable practices, the people would continue to affect the sanctuary of the animal for the purpose of cattle grazing and firewood.
“The greater population of the wolf is harbored around Bale Park while most of the surrounding community relies on the natural resource. It is all these scourge that make the endemic animal remain in the list of endangered animal, says Eric Bedin Team Leader at Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme adding that it is when the habitats and the parks are well protected that the specious would be protected and continue to exist.
Next to human threats, domesticated animals are also posing risks to this endangered species. The local dogs interact with wolves and transmit rabies, a common and deadly dog disease. This disease has the potential to wolf population with short period of time. In extreme cases, dogs may hybridize with the wolves, this is dangerous as it threaten the genetic integrity of the species, adds Eric.
Dr. Fanuel Kebede, Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority Wildlife Research and Monitoring Director for his part notes it is true that their number is on the decline. The actions taken to protect them is far from enough, but the authority together with the surrounding community is trying to address the risk factors.
It is believed that awareness of the community is the best tool and effective way to maintain stable number of the species.
“We need to see the best way to integrate the community and park conservation activities. It behooves every one to protect the animal. But what makes the problem severe is that most other parks have fallen under the influence of human interference.”
To conserve is not an easy task and needs political will . The wolves are under threat and the future would be difficult for them as destruction of the habitat continues to occur. The scale and magnitude of the problem is large, there must be proportional solution. Otherwise, talking about tourism without protection of the specious is nothing less than a mere rhetoric, says Edris.
BY DESTA GEBREHIWOT
Ethiopia is displaying opposite trajectories when it comes to the youth. While emerging entrepreneurs try to tap the untapped potential of the country, sadly and in the contrary, significant number of the youth also leaves the country to make perilous journey to overseas.
In fact the country has achieved a ten per cent of rapid and sustainable economic growth due to the efforts made to realize development and eradicate poverty over the past thirteen years. As a result, the per capital income which was 377 USD in 2002E.C has grown to 794 USD by 2017. In order to accelerate the fast economic growth multifaceted infrastructural development activities are strongly intensified.
However, different socioeconomic issues, which the government is striving to address with the participation of the public and different local and international development partners, are still challenging this promising development as well as the economic growth.
Several thousands of Ethiopians flee the nation to other parts of the world because of different pushing and pulling factors mainly for economic reasons. At the top of such major issues as a pushing factor is unemployment. Despite the fact that the nation has been able to create millions of jobs and benefited its citizens from the rapid development or economic growth, wrong perceptions of the political economy of the nation and the misguided hopes of the overseas employment opportunities, could be the reasons that are leading thousands of the youth to make some terrible choices in their lives and end up to be victims of illegal migration.
This means the country is still left with hard task that need a tireless day and night efforts in order to address the issue. And that is why creating jobs and decreasing unemployment, ensuring food security, eradicating poverty and benefiting its urban and rural citizens from the overall economic growth have been Ethiopia’s agenda of its Growth and Transformation Plans (GTPs).
Since the whole idea is raising the knowledge of entrepreneurship, improving the saving traditions of the people living under poverty lines as well as the youth and women, it requires a very integrated effort of every active structures of the government from Federal to State levels.
The task includes both the rural and urban community so; several sectors are expected to take part in realizing it. The nation has been intensifying effort by preparing and implementing Urban-Rural job creation and food security plans and strategies in GTPI and the ongoing GTPII. In this case all developmental projects play crucial role.
According to the Deputy General Director of Job Creation and Enterprises Development Department at the Federal Urban Job Creation and Food Security Development Agency Bekele Mengistu, the first micro and small scale enterprises development strategy was ratified in 1990 E.C and the second in 2003. The major objective of the first strategy was to address unemployment issues in urban areas while the second aimed at laying strong corner stone for the nation’s industrial transformation. On the process, the rate of unemployment and established enterprises in urban areas was unbalanced, Bekele told The Ethiopian Herald.
Thus it was found necessary to stretch the plan and increase the numbers of jobs as well as enterprises during the GTPII which its implementation started in 2015. It has been planned to create 8.4 million jobs for the urban community through regular jobs and the nation’s mega projects also providing twenty one billion Birr with 50.2 Birr worth market links during the scheduled time frame which is from 2015- 2025. According to the plan also has it 624,651 enterprises will be organized in small manufacturing, construction, urban agriculture, services and trade sectors.
“Even though the plan was to create average of 1.6 million jobs per year, the Nation has been able to create 2.6 million only in 2015. Though it is supposed to be for 1.6 million jobs, we have stretched the plan to create 2.1 million jobs in the past fiscal year.”
Despite the fact that the implementation was not successful like the previous year, the nation was able to benefit 1,739,016 citizens from regular jobs and jobs created in its mega projects. From the total number of beneficiaries 189,648 were graduates of universities and technical and vocational education and training centres. In terms of regular job opportunities, the plan was achieved by ninety one per cent. “This may sound like it is a big number or achievement. But when we assess the urban unemployment balance, the Central Statistics information shows that 16.5 per cent of the population is unemployed. So, we have to improve our efficiency on the next remaining years of GTPII.”
Bekele noted that the 125,000 graduates are expected to join the skilled urban labour market next year. And there are ample opportunities open for the graduates either in the governmental or private sectors through employments or entrepreneurship.
He said there are near 1,600 one stop service centre in woreda towns in order to address the long process and enhance a fast access to loans, workshops and shades, trade license registration, training and market links.
What about rural job opportunities?
Ethiopia has a vast rural population, which also deserves a significant attention in terms of creating jobs with different maneuvers and strategies.
According to Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resource (MANR), even though the number of unemployed citizens in rural areas seems to be small, those who are supposed to be engaged in different jobs spend less than the expected eight hours time on their jobs. This raises the rate of job seekers more than the estimated statistics. The number of employees who are working with payments or salary is very small and most of the youth are engaged with family owned small farms. Thus, if the people who work less than eight hours a day in a week are considered as job seekers, the average amount of job seekers would be 4.2 million per year which is six times greater than the expected number of unemployed rural citizens.
In this case the Rural Job Creation Strategy ratified on May 2017 seems to come up with major solutions. It is one indicator that the nation has taken an important step forward in expanding job opportunities and enhancing its effort on poverty reduction.
The strategy aims to benefit unemployed and under employed citizens who are above the age of fifteen weather educated or uneducated or school dropouts including those who have graduated from TVETs and universities but still without a sustainable sources of income. The strategy also gives special attention for people living with disabilities (who need special supports) as well as farmers and pastoralists who are resettled as their lands are utilized for developmental projects like industrial development or urbanization.
It is obvious that the necessary input is available in the agricultural sector. Therefore, it could be considered that achieving the agricultural development is fulfilling the input for the industrial transformation. In this case the majority of the nation’s population is rural dweller and succeeding in agricultural development is guaranteeing the rural population a sustainable job opportunity.
The enabling choices indicated in the rural strategy including agriculture are based on natural resources and related with land. Agricultural enterprises supported by irrigation that have high price and market based sectors like agro-processing, cereal, spice products, animal husbandry, poultry, fishery are few of the priority areas.
In line with sustaining the all inclusive economic growth, both urban and rural job creation strategies are expected to maintain ownership and collaboration between the public, governmental structures and other stakeholders. They also ensure transparency, fair participation and benefits, prioritize women and the youth, and provide environmental friendly or green and decent job opportunities.
But this requires greater commitment within all participants in the overall process. For instance providing and managing budget, shades and workshops have been raised as major inconveniences over the past fiscal year in the forth ordinary session of the Federal Urban Job Creation and Food Security Development Agency Council.
According to Eristu Areda Youth and Sport Minster there are information gaps between the states in identifying the job seekers and even appropriately allocating the recent revolving fund that was provided by the Federal Government to create jobs for the youth. Even thought there are States using the revolving fund appropriately, some states seem to experience a failure, according to him. “Some of the sub cities in Addis Ababa didn’t even appropriately utilize ten per cent of the revolving fund allocated by the Federal Government”, says Eristu.
Well, if such gaps continue while the Federal Government has provided the budget (particularly the revolving fund to create jobs), not only for the states which experienced the dreary results of the recent unrest but also those who are still dealing with growing good governance and other related issues, will be our next history of failure of the developmental progress. So, all States should analyze their pace towards creating reliable job opportunities and fair resource distribution or management and must cope up with the latest strategies of the government.
BY HENOK TIBEBU
Experts concerned over the 'disproportionate response' given to save Lake Tana that came under encroachment by water weed, dubbed as hyacinth in what they described the situation as large scale.
There has been huge public outcry via social media calling for immediate intervention. Currently the nearby farmers are suffering from the spread of the weed. It has led to loss of crop and fish production.
“Unless we double the ongoing efforts, the weed might pose risk of getting the lake dried out . says Dr. Assefa Derebe Soil and Water Conservation Expert and Director of Amhara State Agriculture Bureau . “ On the other hand the weed also has impact on biodiversity”
Failing to respond urgently and strongly is what allowed the weed to expand its foothold on surface of Lake Tana. The federal government should assist the efforts of the state.
Hyacinth, is not a new phenomenon; It has previously appeared in neighboring countries and decimated by man-made solution. If responded well, it would be eliminated easily.
Dr. Birru Yitaferu State Agricultural Research Institute Director General and Soil Science Senior Expert remembers
Years ago , the Lake was invaded by the weed, but due to effective interventions, close to 95 percent of it was successfully eliminated. However, the efforts were short-lived where it later resurrected and prevailed at a wide range.
Currently, five districts including Ebinat and Dembiya have fallen under the massive impact of the weed while the harbor farmers and fishermen are still working manually to clear the hyacinth..
According to Dr. Birru, currently 22 thousand hectare of land has been cleared with two thousand remaining. However he feared the weed might spread again in this summer unless continued efforts are put in place . “Especially importing machinery that could chop and grind the hyacinth is significant as an instant measure.”
As the impact of the invasive weed is critical, the federal government and other organizations should give the needed attention to curb the problem, he states.
“It may take five to six year of jobs to get rid of this hazardous water weed. Currently the elimination program is led by the state environment conservation bureau that has extra responsibilities. But the elimination task ought to be monitored by organization solely mandated with conserving the Lake.”
In this case, the establishment of Charity Organization for Integrated Tana Basin Development is a promising beginning.
Organization is engaging on short-term and long-term conservation activities of the lake says organization Chairperson Dr. Dessalegn Chanie.
Various local and international water conservation professionals are joining hand with the organization to curb the alarming problem, he says.
He also believes that the endeavor of Bahir Dar and Gondar universities might ease the elimination difficulties through providing machinery that would chop and grind the weed calling the federal government to make financial and technical support.
“Ethiopian water experts have submitted a letter requesting UNESCO to assist ongoing effort.
Recent study conducted by FAO indicates that 19 million dollar is required to bring the weed to an end once and forever, he notes. But so far, only little amount has been secured.
Ethiopian Institute of Biodiversity Genetic, Resource Access and Benefit Sharing Director Ashenafi Ayenew for his part states his institution has spent about one million birr to purchase machinery used in the elimination process.
There are various techniques to avoid the weed. It could either be through wiping off, or using chemicals. “However as the rapid spread and type of the weed is alarming, using machinery is best immediate solution.”
But it needs extra study to find out long term solution and coordinate the efforts of stakeholders to destroy the weed, he stresses.
BY YOHANES JEMANEH
The spread of an invasive alien species is neither easy to manage nor easy to reverse, threatening not only biodiversity but also economic development and human wellbeing. According to the United Nation Environmental Programme (UNEP), native to the Amazon Basin in South America, water hyacinth (water weed) has emerged as a dangerous weed in more than 50 countries in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world with profuse and permanent impacts.
Studies show that the weed was first introduced into Africa through Egypt sometimes between 1879 and 1882. It has been recognized as the most damaging aquatic weed in Ethiopia since its first presence in 1965. Its presence has been recognized in Lake Tana in 2011, according to Bahir-Dar Fisheries and Other Aquatic Life Research Centre, located at Bair-Dar University. Even though several efforts have been made by different parties, especially by communities, its expansion is increasing year after year.
According to the Research Centre, area coverage of water hyacinth has been increased at alarming rate. Its coverage at the inception period in 2011 was about 80 to 100 ha. After a year it has grown about 20,000 ha. Even if tremendous amount of human labour, time and money has been utilized each year mostly by surrounding communities and the university, its coverage only continued to escalate and reached 50,000 ha. in the subsequent years.
Ethiopia’s largest; Lake Tana covers 832-square-mile body of water and is packed with ecological, cultural and historical charm. It is believed that the origin of Ethiopians and their civilization is from and around the Lake and its source, Nile, as it has been discussed in so many anthropological, historical and religious books. Located in the highlands of Ethiopia’s second-largest State of Amhara the lake is currently at a great ecological risk.
The water weed has been spreading to the whole body of the lake due to little concern towards the risk. It is obvious that saving Lake Tana is highly on the hands of the government and research institutions than surrounding communities although they would play a crucial role in supporting the effort.
Due to the fact that, the lake has enormous water potential for hydro power and irrigation, the Ethiopian government is launching various development programmes to stimulate growth and reduce poverty with little concern toward water hyacinth as one of the top 10 ecologically dangerous and worst invasive weed. It is devastating towards the ecological life of the lake and most water researchers and environmentalists are warning that the lake may dry out if proper control mechanism is not utilized against the invasive water weed.
Studies show that if water hyacinth expansion continues towards the southern tip of Lake Tana, it will invade the Blue Nile River Starting from its source, and consequently the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) reservoir.
According to Other Aquatic Life Research Centre and Fishers in Bahir-Dar city of Amhara State, the measure that has been taken to avoid or reduce the water hyacinth from and around the Lake did not succeed due to lack of knowledge about the biological formation of the plant. Eliminating water hyacinth from the Lake, requires complete clearance including individual plant fragments and tissues. However, the measures that have been taken by the Amhara Bureau of Environmental Protection and other concerned stakeholders seem to prove less effective.
Most of the farmers and some governmental bodies merely collect certain amount of water hyacinth with high cost and deposit weed somewhere, mostly around the shoreline. On the other day, because of the disturbance in the water the remnant of the plant will spread to most part of the area through wave and other issues, the Research Centre stressed.
In addition, site selection to deposit the harvested weed biomass is inappropriate. Drained input fertilizer and other agricultural influents from crop cultivated land and the catchment area of the lake aggravates water hyacinth to over dominate other floras. Therefore, according to Bahir-Dar Fisheries and Other Aquatic Life Research Centre, shore area floras which would be important fish breeding grounds and livestock forage source in the vicinity continue to get damaged.
Currently water hyacinth is greatly affecting fishing rates because mats of water hyacinth can block access to fishing grounds clogging and damaging eye of net and increasing costs (effort and materials) of fishing. Furthermore, the water weed tears gill nets and damage boat’s motor which accrue to cost of fishing. It was indicated that this weed forms a dense impenetrable mats across water surface, limiting access from the reach of the people. Moreover, navigation and fishing have been obstructed, and hydropower, irrigation as well as drainage systems have been blocked.
Water hyacinth control methods that are often used include mechanical, chemical and biological control. However, water researchers advised that existing methods have often been insufficient to contain the aggressive propagation of the weed and viability of its seeds despite substantial monetary investments over the years, due to lack of continued support from the government.
Thus, Bahir-Dar Fishers and Other Aquatic Life Research Centre recommended that manual control method which is currently applied should be revised based on the biological nature of the plant. Besides, integrated approach such as manual, mechanical, chemical and biological methods through scientific procedures has to be implemented. There is also need for improvement of land use management in the catchment and along the rivers so as to reduce silt and nutrient loads.
In June 2015, the United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has registered Lake Tana as a World Heritage site for its unique ecological biosphere reserve. It is an indispensible multi-purpose lake both nationally and internationally. UNESCO also recognizes the islands’ rich historical, cultural and religious significance with deep ties to the Ethiopian Coptic Orthodox Church. However, the lake and people living on the shore and their relatively isolated location on islands are at risk in need of an integrated effort of the government as well as all stakeholders and developmental partners.
BY DAGIM TEREFE
Technological innovations driven by energetic youth can be used as yet another springboard to bring about over all transformation in the country. In fact, there are several young men and women with creative ideas in Ethiopia who demand a helping hand to make their scientific breakthroughs and innovations practical.
Various occasions demonstrated that these young innovators, if they receive adequate support and attention, have the potential to make positive impact and contribute something meaningful to society. Hence it is timely to harness knowledge and innovation of the youth. But doing so requires all stakeholders to give due attention to the issue.
Socio-economic transformation in Ethiopia demands for both adaption of existing technologies, and the development of home-grown innovations. While too much emphasis have been given to technology transfer, it is also important to make investments in improving local skills, technology, knowledge, and innovation to deliver effective home grown solutions to local problems.
The experiences of other countries show that investment in education at lower levels pays off at the end of the day. Innovation and technology-oriented education at grass root level is vital to create future innovators. Hence, education is a key building block to secure the future of young innovators.
It is encouraging that the government has given due attention to science in the education curriculum at all levels to promote technology and innovation. In fact, 70 per cent of the tens of thousands of students who join public higher learning institutions are assigned in faculties of natural sciences. The 70/30 ratio has made a big difference in improving the number of science and technology graduates.
The Ministry of Science and Technology has also launched an incentive and support system in scientific and technological inventions at all levels of the education system. It is also organizing annual innovation competitions where winners receive financial grant, medal and recognition to pursue their innovative activities.
Further, it is vital to organize creativity contests to inspire innovation among the youth. Besides the government, other stakeholder should also involve in such initiatives. Large companies can also use competitions to drive innovation and utilize them in their production systems. They should collaborate with the media and the government in organizing such contests by granting a ‘catalyst fund’ to encourage and support_new ideas.
The other challenge is scaling up new innovations. In Ethiopia’s context, it is unrealistic to assume that great ideas would be naturally adopted. Scaling up innovations is an important process of ensuring impact and sustainability of the youth’s creative initiatives. These processes involve expanding successful pilot projects to a larger scale and achieve significant impact.
On the other hand, the government and other stakeholders have to give due emphasis to establishing innovation incubation centres. Such centres would play a paramount role in nurturing news technologies and ideas. They would also make the innovators to be in a better position to test out and adapt their ideas.__
As to Dr. Eleni Gabremadhin, former Would Bank economist and founder and CEO of blueMoon Ethiopia, a company which aims to find the “sweet spot” between youth entrepreneurship and innovative ideas in Ethiopia, the lack of ‘incubation centres’ is the biggest challenge for Ethiopian technological start up.
She also recommended that the nation should have an economic institution that works towards providing incentives to get advanced education, to save and invest, to innovate and adopt new technologies.
True, Ethiopia is rapidly urbanizing and the way of life is modernizing. Access to mobile phone and other IT infrastructure are significantly expanding. Information technological innovations have the chance to reach the wider public than ever. All of these and other factors combined give an opportunity for innovation boom, especially in the IT sector. A lot of innovations are coming about that are creating user friendly interface of imported software.
In addition, innovators have to be conscious about the context of the country. Their innovations do not have to necessarily resemble the global innovation trend. Instead, they have to be specific to come up with new ideas to solving the socio-economic problems the country is facing. For instance, they have to focus on solving problems related to health, agriculture, environment and climate change. They should focus on solving problems of the people on the ground. They have to look at what are the needs that people have? They have to utilize their knowledge in such a way.
Favorable policies and active role of stakeholders for instance in establishing incubation centers and organizing competitions would help to effectuating innovators first to think about a problem and then consider the resources they have available to come up with solutions to societal problems. With this, they would be able to contribute their part in moving the country forward.
Ethiopia Safety & Security Expo (ESSE), the first of its kind in the country, is due to take place in Addis Ababa at the UN-ECA Conference Hall, from August 24 – 26.
Several renowned international companies that are engaged in security and safety industry will take part in ESSE, hence bringing state-of-the-art safety and security technologies. Some 30 international companies have already confirmed to attend the expo.
“The expo will enable us to assess the situation of industry, the technologies we adopted so far, and their limitations,” Bezuayehu Kassahun, Managing Director of ESSE told The Ethiopian Herald.
“We are working in joint venture with two giant international companies, Securex, the South Africa security expo and Eficex, UK security expo,” he said.
The two security expos were held on May 30, in South Africa and from June 20-22 in London UK. The latter, according to Bezuayehu, was a big expo where 1060 security companies took part from across the globe. “During the UK security expo, we signed Memorandum of Understanding to organize the Ethiopian Safety & Security Expo here in Addis,” he said. “We gained a lot of experience from the expo and we want to bring that experience here to Ethiopia.”
At the Ethiopian expo, besides panel discussions on the issue, there will be demonstration of state-of-the-art safety and security technologies. “We need expertise knowledge,” he said adding “besides the industry does not have adequate awareness about what is going on in Ethiopia. So the Ethiopian expo is a big opportunity for security companies to get to know Ethiopia.”
Federal Police, INSA, National Security Agency, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ethiopian Airlines are the major stakeholders of the expo.
The major objective of the expo is mainly to raise awareness on the issue of safety and security, promote state of the art technologies, and assess the situation of safety and security in Ethiopia.
There is a rising demand for state-of-the-art safety and security technologies in Ethiopia particularly by museums, national and regional palaces, banks, industrial zones, hotels, buildings and various government institutions that are willing to adopt cyber security technical equipments, CCTV camera, motion sensor, volt doors, access control through figure prints, and the likes.
The fire quality rating, which was adopted recently, has created better awareness about safety and security on the side of hotels, buildings and industry zones.
BY ABIY HAILU