The 2017 World Bank estimation indicates that Ethiopia’s population reaches around 104 million, making the country the second most populous nation in Africa. This is population potential can be an asset provided that it constitutes a healthy productive workforce which essentially contributes to the nation’s multifaceted development endeavors. To this end, the nation has been making huge investments for the past two decades to create healthy citizens.
Ethiopia has been designing and translating ground-breaking plans to address the unmet needs of its people to improve healthcare services through expanding health institutions, providing equipments and empowering professionals. The outcome of this effort highly paid off in improving citizen’s life expectancy and sustainable economic growth.
The key factor behind this achievement is attributable to the feasible healthcare strategy. The first Health Sector Development Program launched by the Ministry of Health targeted at the expansion of healthcare facilities across the country. The improvement in access to health services nationwide impacted the health of the people, thereby boosting production and productivity among the young productive population, engine of development and that constitutes 40 per cent of the total population. Following this, the country registered successive double-digit economic growth for over a decade, ministry Public Relation Deputy Director Tesfamichael Afework says.
The country health policy gives focus on providing health promotion and disease prevention, curative and rehabilitative services.
Based on the policy, the government has prepared a 20-year Health Sector Development Plan. It has been revised within each five year. The plan aims at ensuring effective social mobilization and awareness creation. In 1998, there were only 153 health stations but now the number has escalated to 3,547. This time, it is possible to hit the set target to provide health service for 25,000 people in a given station. At least one health post is constructed in every kebele. The vision of having one health centre for 25,000 people has already been achieved.
Nationally, there have been efforts to achieve the vision of creating healthcare access where primary, general and referral hospitals can serve 100,000, 1.5, and 5 million peoples respectively.
The government has given due emphasis for the engagement of the private sector in the healthcare and health education services. Accordingly, over 40,000 private health institutions are currently providing healthcare service in various medications.
Over the past two decades, the number of Ethiopia’s health institutions has increased from 1515 to 19,506. 225 of these are hospitals, 3256 health centers and 16025 health posts. Similarly, the number of physicians rose to 86382 in 2013 than that was 12342 in 2000. The expansion of public and private higher learning institutions contributes a lot to this improvement, according to Tesfamichael.
Presently, the nation’s medical higher learning institutions have the capacity to enroll 13,000 students per annum. As a result, the expansion of medical education enabled the country to run the sector with 86,382 health professionals of which 3,257 doctors, 29,550 nurses, 39,002 extension workers, 3,702 health officers and 10,871 paramedical professionals.
Of course, the development of health facilities has helped the country to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) set for the health sector through reducing mother and child mortality and declining the impact of malaria, TB and AIDS diseases. The death caused by HIV and AIDS and malaria has shown a 90 and 60 per cent decline. Similarly TB caused death number reduced significantly and the rate of treatment has also reached to over 80 per cent.
Ethiopia has achieved the MDG - 4 by reducing under-five child mortality rate three years ahead. The story of maternal mortality rate two decades back was that 1,200 of the 100,000 mothers who went to give birth in hospitals lost their lives. However this number declined to 412 this fiscal year. Similarly, under-five mortality also declined to 67 out of 1000 than that was 166 in 2000 and.
The access to healthcare service increased to 92 per cent in 2017 from 50 in 2000. And efforts are underway to reach the access at hundred per cent shortly by increasing the number of hospitals to 800, accessing health service in extension programs, and addressing the treatment to malaria, TB and HIV and AIDS diseases Tesfamichael noted.
Notable is also the progress in terms of drug and medical equipment supplies. An outstanding illustration would be that only the previous year the ministry bought 12 million USD worth medicine and distributed and it also built 23 medicine stores.
On the other hand, this year, the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) has bought 50 ambulances at a cost of 42 million Birr and distributed to its 11 branches across the country so as to address first aid services. Red Cross Society General Secretary Firehiwot Worku says the society has bought the ambulances with the financial donation from the International Red Cross Committee in order to improve access to ambulance service nationwide.
The new ambulances would help the society to address the service assisted by the-state-of-the-art equipment and increased the number of ambulances to 435. As to her, the new ambulances would get into function next budget year. Public awareness on the usage of ambulance service has also been rising through time and the ERCS is serving the public utmost. “The major effort of the ERCS is to afford ambulance service at woreda and kebele level and minimize protectable injuries.”
In fact, the country has achieved astonishing healthcare success by implementing its health policies and strategies. The health strategy achievement has helped the country heighten the life expectancy from 45 to 64 years. And the sustainable economic growth of the nation is also attributable to its healthy manpower enabled through efforts of the health sector.
While the country achieved the health sector MDGs, still a lot remains to be done in terms of improving the quality of healthcare services. A recent assessment on the quality of health service made by the Ethiopian Ombudsman Authority confirms this fact. The study traced that there are still several problems related to shortage of medicine, water, disciplinary flaws, and sanitation.
Nevertheless, the ministry has been diligently endeavoring for the success of the implementation of the Health Sector Development Plan which encompasses the Sustainable Development Goals for the sector. Consequently, this would alleviate sector problems identified so far.
BY YOHANES JEMANEH
The combination of political commitment on the part of the government and the inception of a demanding public partially explain the state of affairs in the current political system of Ethiopia.
Over the last several decades, the social consciousness of the Ethiopian public has undergone a considerable change. The Ethiopian societies no more pause as passive, inert or indifferent onlookers to issues that concern their daily livelihood. This in itself is a step in the right direction for the development of democratic order in the country and the creation of a single socio-political system.
As the New Year is approaching, the public and the government need to effectively close the gap that has been created due to the disruptive activities of narrow nationalists, chauvinists, rent seekers and corrupt officials who are suspected of robbing public coffers in the most cunning manner.
This is a country that is striving to escape the shackles of poverty by mobilizing its human and natural resources and the country needs every coin it can spare in this protracted battle. However, public fund that is obtained through rough negotiations and hard work is being embezzled by corrupt officials. Constructing a square meter of asphalt road requires an average of millions of Birr but how can this proceed when public fund is being put in a bucket with no bottom? The government needs to take continuous, meaningful and measurable actions to win a wider public trust by wiping out corrupt officials from its rank and file.
There are good beginnings but as corruption is comfortably entrenched in the entire echelons of the political system, the government should closely work with the public to put before the courts of law all persons who are suspected of theft, bribery, nepotism, money laundering, production of counterfeit academic credential and, false business documents.
While self styled tax evaders still persist in the country, the wider public in the business are filing complaints that the government is effectively addressing. This is already helping to create mutual confidence between the government and the public. The government should in practice prove itself to be the people’s government.
Recent events clearly show that forces that are against the development of this country watch on every opportunity they can exploit to discredit the gains so far made to tarnish the good image the country is already depicting. Every Ethiopian here and abroad has a single country of origin. Governments may make mistakes that it needs to rectify as contract workers of the public.
Public property is the property of all Ethiopians. No generation, including the present one is entitled to tamper with public property, finance and historical heritages the country uses to give better life for the present and future generation.
The government has invested huge amount of fund into the construction of railway lines, roads and other infrastructural facilities for public use. Tampering with public amenities like traffic lights, retention walls, public trash collection bins, telephone line accessories, and traffic signs has almost become a daily event both in the capital city and regional town. Some of these materials are purchased with hard currencies incurring a huge amount of loss on public property. In the coming new year let us hope that such careless destructive activities would subside.
While we expect that the government keep up to its job description, the public has huge amount of responsibilities to shoulder in taking care and protecting public utilities and properties including infrastructures built for public use.
Ethiopia is already engaged in developing climate resilient green economy that results of which are gradually paying off. Over 30 million Ethiopian converge over rugged areas and degraded highlands to recover the original forest resources in the country.
However, residents of the urban areas of the country including the capital city Addis Ababa are not doing enough to keep their respective towns clean and green. Despite the efforts made by the efforts of the municipalities in various urban centers of the country, most of these cities are still handling their sewage disposals and dry trashes in a haphazard manner. Unless the public pays its role in keeping the cities and town clean and green, it would be difficult to ensure the health of the residents of these towns and cities.
Every year, the government allocates budgets required for ensuring the uninterrupted development of the country but apart from regular annual audit that is conducted by federal and regional audit offices, the public is denied any chance on monitoring and evaluating on how the budget earmarked for government ministries, commissions and agencies is being utilized.
There is no national mechanism in which the taxpaying public is informed about what has been done with the tax fund they have expended for the development programs of these countries. Some sub cities in Addis Ababa post the budget that is allocated for their operation but the public in these sub cities remain in darkness on what has been done with the budget allocated. This clearly shows the importance of organizing periodic public hearings at all levels and let the public evaluate the activities of the executive sector of the government.
Ascertaining the national security and peace of the nation as a major prerequisite for continuous growth and development of the national economy of this country is a critical area in which both the executive branch of government and the public should cooperate. While the government is entrusted with ensuring sustained public peace and security of the country and its citizens, citizens are also legally obliged to contribute their part is maintaining the sovereignty of the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia as provided in the constitution.
The collective responsibility and mutual cooperation between the government and the public also encompasses another important sector. Education and quality education in particular is another critical area for the development of this country. The public need to have voice in maintaining quality education by mobilizing parents and guardians of students to effectively follow up on the daily academic performance of each student. Special consideration should also be given by the public in supporting girls and disabled students so that they can cultivate their potentials to become experts and innovators in their future educational endeavors.
Producing responsible and well disciplined youth is not a task to be left only to the responsible government sectors. The public has a huge responsibility in supporting, mentoring and disciplining the youth so that they can shape up their own visions and goals in consonance with the development needs of the nation.
The year 2010 (E.C) should be a year of leap forward in the rapprochement and cooperation between the government and the entire citizens. There needs to be a practical reciprocity between the needs, interests and values of the public with planned activities of the government. It could be hoped that the year at the corner could be a year of uplifting the nation’s vision and goals to become a middle level developed country in the forthcoming years.
BY SOLOMON DIBABA
Ethiopia, having more than 80 nations, nationalities and peoples, adopted multi-national federal system with the view to create one political and economic community while at the same time accommodating and respecting diversity. The multi-national federal system and decentralized form of government has since addressed the age long questions of Ethiopians and it is among the major reasons for achieving overall socio-economic development over the past decade.
True, the centralized systems adopted by the previous regimes could not accommodate diversity and hence led to prolonged armed struggles. The federal system was able to address the prolonged search for democratic and human rights including the questions of identity and right to self–determination.
As the nation is highly diversified linguistically, culturally, geographically and the likes, federalism is the best and ideal form of government to accommodates diversity. Clearly, it would not be realistic to think to ensure the rights of such a diversified group of people through a centralized form of administration. Hence, in the context of Ethiopia, federalism is the choice without an option.
The main aim of any federal system is to create a nation state through free will and consent member states. The federal structure gives members state some sort of autonomy, enabling them to administer their own affairs according to cultural, geographical, economic and several other contexts. This opens the door to celebrate the unity that’s found within their difference.
One of the distinguishing features of Ethiopia’s federal system is the fact that the nations, nationalities and peoples of the country are the sovereign holders of the ultimate power of the land. The peoples of Ethiopia entered a covenant through the constitution to create strong political and economic community without compromising their diversity and differences. And the motto for this agreement is unity in diversity.
As a testimony to the free will and consent of the nations, nationalities and peoples to become Ethiopians, the preamble of the FDRE constitution, the supreme law of the land starts by proclaiming “We, the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia: Strongly committed, in full and free exercise of our right to self-determination, to building a political community founded on the rule of law and capable of ensuring a lasting peace, guaranteeing a democratic order, and advancing our economic and social development…
Hence Ethiopians agree to pursue common benefits through federalism and develop their respective culture, language and livelihood. This commitment to be members of the federation would inevitability grants them equal and fair rights in the decision making process of the country. Because, the system does not allow any ethnic group to be dominant. It means every ethnic group is equal before the constitution and there is no ethno-linguistic domination as it was the case during the previous regimes.
Indeed, the federal system has for long been source of debate and controversy in Ethiopian politics. Particularly the inclusion of article 39 in the constitution, which grants the nations, nationalities and peoples of the country the right to self-determination upto secession and establishing an independent state, has been a source of worry for some groups who fear that this would lead to the eventual disintegration of the country. In short, they believe the current federal system is against the unity of the country and its adoption was a historical mistake.
Yet the rationale for the inclusion of such an article is to reaffirm the fact that Ethiopia, as a republic is established based on the consent and free will of its peoples. That is why the federal system has brought about stable political system, rapid and inclusive economic growth and socio-cultural transformation.
It took a very bitter struggle and sacrifice to build the current federal system. Today, the federal system has enabled Ethiopia to register positive results in various arenas. True, as time passes, the system by itself would keep readjusting and correcting itself. But the crux of the matter is the multi-national federal system is the best option available for countries with diversity like Ethiopia and it is the reason behind achieving successive economic growth and avoiding the threats of disintegration.
Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MEFCC) said it has been working to support efforts to build climate resilient economy by increasing the forest coverage to 20 percent at the end of GTP II.
Opening the Green Development Day in connection to the Ethiopian New Year celebration yesterday, MEFCC Minister Dr. Gemedo Dale said about 67 percent of the seedlings that were planted last year are full-grown.
The country has been working to achieve green development through establishing industries that utilize renewal energy and planting seedlings among others, he added.
This year, 3.5 billion seedlings are planted and currently the country’s forest coverage has reached 15.5 percent. The ministry is also endeavoring to increase the coverage to 20 per cent, he said.
As to him, the ministry has been doing its level best to implement various environment protection mechanisms including cultivation of trees, inspection and sanitation among others.
State Minister Kebede Yimam for his part said that the ongoing national effort in conserving environment and building climate resilient economy is encouraging.
“The forestation program enables the country to expand construction, increase agricultural productivity and reduce climate change impact among others.”
Moreover it would enhance the nation’s resilient economy program mainly through balancing the climate condition and elongating the service time of the hydroelectric dams by protecting them from sediment, the State Minister noted.
BY YOHANES JEMANEH
President Dr. Mulatu Teshome called on all stakeholders to exert utmost effort to produce competent citizens with commitment to shoulder responsibilities through cultivating strong culture of reading especially among schoolchildren.
During the Ethiopian New Year Reading Day celebration held on Tuesday at the National Palace under the theme “Coming days hold Ethiopia’s ascension in store," Dr. Mulatu urged all stakeholders to actively engage in the ongoing effort to develop children both mentally and thoughtfully so as to prepare them for future excellence.
The president stressed that the realization of all national development goals and students’ holistic growth are highly dependent on reading. Hence, a good reading culture is worthwhile, he remarked.
Dr. Mulatu advised students attending the celebration that reading is their chief responsibility so as to become productive and competent members of the future generation who would eventually uplift nation.
The president has also offered civic education supplementary books for the children as gift. Moreover, the President has read two interesting paragraphs for the students from the book entitled Patriotism, Civic and Ethical Education.
Education Minister Dr. Tilaye Gete for his part added it is difficult to realize the different policies and strategies designed to produce competent citizens without creating a young generation with a developed reading culture.
The Minister further highlighted that the government will provide school libraries with necessary books, teaching-learning materials and other necessary facilities to improve students’ reading culture.
To this end, he also pointed out that reading centers will be built in all Woredas across the nation by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. “The celebration of Ethiopian New Year Reading Day shows that the government has given due attention to the matter,” he added.
World class leaders and successful people across various disciplines often recommend reading as an instrumental game changer in life.
BY YARED GEBREMEDEN
Since the economic reform in 1991, the government has demonstrated unprecedented commitment to public investment in economic infrastructure, education and health services. The country has also been devoted to improving agricultural productivity and enhancing private investment in both service and manufacturing sectors. In doing so, the country has substantially increased its production capacity setting up the springboard for consecutive economic growth in the years to come. But what are the major markers of this milestone move in the country's socio-economic history?
Improved agricultural productivity
Cognizant of the fact that the vast majority of the Ethiopian population resides in rural areas, mostly deriving livelihoods from agriculture, the government has long put agriculture at the center of its national policy priorities with both the Agriculture Development Led Industrialization (ALDI) strategy and Growth and Transformation Plan I and II.
Accordingly, through expanding research in effective plant breeding, beefing up irrigation and fertilizers use, adopting genetically modified crops, and making better use of agricultural technologies, the agricultural sector has shown an average growth of seven to nine percent roughly since 2005, contributing about 50 percent to the national GDP.
Over the last decade, there have been significant increases in the use of modern inputs, such as chemical fertilizers and improved seeds that technically explains part of that growth.
However, according to a report from International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) there has also been significant land expansion, increased labor use, and Total Factor Productivity (TFP) growth estimated at 2.3 percent per year. The expansion in modern input use appears to have been driven by high government expenditures on the agricultural sector, including agricultural extension which is facilitated by improved road network, higher rural education levels, and favorable international and local price incentives.
Research also suggests that, agricultural output and the number of small-holder farmers rose by 9.4 percent and 3.8 percent per year, respectively. By any standard, this growth in crop output in the last decade was astonishing. The transformation of agriculture has led to higher rural wages, and this provides incentives to further innovation by introducing new technologies such as mechanization.
Besides, the factors associated with agricultural production growth include extension services in rural areas and farmer’s education. Through training and disseminating agricultural extension workers in large numbers, nation was able to bring farmers closer to agricultural technologies.
Agricultural extension efforts and farmer education programs are well underway as farmers who received extension visits and education are more likely to adopt improved agricultural technologies. Recent agricultural growth is largely explained by high government spending on extension services, roads, education as well as favorable price incentives, other factors remain the same.
The success in agriculture can be summed up in Ethiopia's effort to build up a large agricultural extension system, which makes nation to have one of the highest extension agents to farmer ratios in the world. In addition, there has been significant improvement in market access. Moreover, improved access to education led to a significant decrease in illiteracy in rural areas while high international prices of export commodities as well as improved modern input-output ratios for local crops have led to better incentives.
Other factors have also played a role in bringing about this success as well, including good weather condition, better access to micro-finance institutions in rural areas, and improved tenure security. Yet, rainfall variability and recurring drought in some parts of the country pose a major challenge to the sector. Hence, the nation is working to capitalize on irrigation to reduce reliance on rain-fed agriculture and ultimately build a climate resilient agriculture.
Intensified public infrastructural investment
For the past 10 years the federal budget has been devoted to policies that would benefit the wider public such as education, health and infrastructure development. Minister of Finance and Economic Development (MoFEC) Dr. Abirham Tekeste recently told journalists that the government intensified investment in infrastructural development of the country that results in a sizable Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow and backs an imminent boost in export trade in recent years.
The results obtained so far are quite impressive in overhauling the poor infrastructure status. Starting from very poor levels of infrastructure, Ethiopia has invested heavily in energy, transport, communications, agriculture and social sectors. And the government has invested massively in infrastructure development, focusing on transport and power generation. Power generation capacity increased from 473 MW in 2002 to 4260 MW. More than 10,000 MW generation capacities will be available by 2020 once major ongoing hydro, geothermal and wind projects are completed. Hence, the country is set to quadruple its power generation capacity once the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile is finished.
Overall, state investments on railway, road networks, maritime, dry ports, airline cargo, and industrial parks among others are significantly heightening private sector investment in line with the government’s development goals. Road and railway connectivity to neighboring countries are also crucial in promoting trade and investment as they avail port alternatives to the country.
Service sector has been performing well
The services sector was one of the driving forces behind Ethiopia’s growth. In the last decade, the sector was the largest in terms of economic output and generated half of the economic growth. Moreover, the service sector is the second biggest employer next to agriculture and created about 15 percent of the employment opportunity. It has also played a crucial role in lifting millions out of absolute poverty.
In the last decade, the service sector has been the largest contributor to economic growth, according to the World Bank reports. Accordingly, the trade and hotel sub-sectors increased by 17 percent, while foreign merchandise trade increased by 13 percent. In the case of transport and communications, Ethiopian Airlines’ passenger traffic and cargo services have also increased by 13.3 and 6.8 percent respectively.
Similarly, due to substantial growth in electricity generation, power sales to industries grew significantly. A sizable amount of power has also been exported to neighboring countries.
Promising manufacturing sector
GTP I and II seek to transform the economy from a predominantly agrarian to a modern and industrialized economy. GTP I provides the medium-term strategic framework that guides the country’s efforts towards accelerating GDP growth and employment creation. It seeks to transform the country to an industrialized and middle-income economy by 2025.
Yet researchers argue that Ethiopia has some distance to go in its attempts to close the large human capital gap as compared to other low-income countries, if it is to accelerate industrialization.
Integral to the achievement of a vibrant and competitive industrial sector is a policy focused on the development of the manufacturing sector, for instance through the use of Industrial Parks (IP) to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). To leverage efforts and facilitate this transformation, the government puts special focus on five sectors thought to maximize the country’s endowment and comparative advantage in the manufacturing sector: textiles and garments; leather and leather products; sugar and related products; cement; and the metal and engineering industries.
But the GTP has not been able to foster and accelerate structural transformation of the economy and the share of the manufacturing sector in GDP remained stable at a rather low level. In fact, Ethiopia’s past high growth in the past decade has been fueled by large services and agricultural sectors.
While privately owned local firms do not seem to feature prominently in Ethiopia’s industrialization process, the government continues to take some bold initiatives to accelerate growth in manufacturing and achieve the GTP targets. One such initiative is the establishment of major industrial zones
Meanwhile, in a bid to tackle the challenges in the manufacturing sector and increase the sector’s share to GDP, the government has been vastly investing in industrial parks and encouraging private investors to take part in industrial parks. Accordingly, the established IPs are already luring high profile investors to the nation. The Swedish apparel giant H and M, which is set to export at least a million pieces of apparel every month is a good example in this regard.
Similarly, to expand the sugar sector with the ambition of becoming one of the top ten sugar exporters in the world, the government has planned to build 10 sugar factories. The state owned Ethiopian Sugar Corporation owns the implementation of the project. Though its completion would enable nation to export an excess of two million tons of sugar, unfortunately the project lags behind schedule.
Economic growth averaged 10.9 percent per year for the last consecutive years surpassing the regional average of 5.4 percent. Whereas the service and agriculture sector still remains to be the backbone of the economy, together accounting for almost 90 percent of GDP, the manufacturing sector’s share to the GDP would substantially increase with ongoing efforts. The manufacturing sector has grown at an average of 10.9 percent in last decade about the same rate of expansion as real GDP.
The goal of the second GTP is to increase the GDP share of manufacturing sector 15 per cent. The agricultural products would provide the necessary inputs to the industry. Infrastructural investments are convincing private investors to step into manufacturing. These merged with the massive human capital development that the sector requires, the coming years apparently hold the best and would certainly enable the manufacturing sector to flourish.
BY HOMA MULISA
The Ministry of Agriculture and Natural resources called for timely and adequate provision of raw materials ahead of the construction of agro industries in four states.
Abdulsemed Abdo, Agricultural Development Adviser to the State Minister tells Ethiopian Press Agency that the nation plans to build 17 agro-industry parks in the second GTP.
Cornerstones have already been laid to commence construction in the Amhara, Oromiya, Tigray and South Nation Nationalities and Peoples States. To realize the vision, sectors should do their home works, like crops and dairy products, he adds.
He further notes the ministry of industry should undertake the construction of the industries in a full-fledged manner and in line with the standards set. The livestock and fishery and the ministry of agriculture and natural resource should work hard and in collaboration to supply the required raw materials, which is the basic component for the agro-industries.
"As a ministry we have prepared a strategy. Discussions have been held with the respective bureaus of the four states. inter ministerial meeting have been ongoing among the ministries. the construction of the industries is taking long while some states have made themselves ready to commence operation” says Abdulsemed.
According to him in order to make agriculture the engine of growth, there has to be progress in terms of commercialization, with more intensive farming, increasing the proportion of marketable outputs. Accordingly, the rationale behind agro-industry is to strengthen the interdependence between agriculture and industry by increasing the productivity of farmers, expanding large scale private commercial farms.
"In fact, what we need is make sure the supply raw materials arrive before production. what should come first is to come up with quality raw materials." he states.
There is potential market for agro industrial products both in domestic and international markets. so what worries most is not just the construction of the industries but the provision of raw materials , he underlines.
BY DESTA GEBREHIWOT
Being the mainstay of Ethiopia's largest population with about half of the national GDP, the agricultural sector is going through mixed trajectories.
Last year, agricultural productivity has seen an 8.83 percent growth and this year it is estimated to persist on the upward growth. On the other hand, some areas have been languishing due to rainfall shortages over the past few years. The question then is, what does it take to tackle this discrepancy and transform the sector despite years of productivity boost and two years of difficult time due to El-Nino induced drought?
What needs to be done to sustain the sector by reducing the heavy reliance on rain-fed cultivation is also another concern. Agriculture has long been the focal point of the government with best policies and government commitment put in place. Two concerns have been surrounding the sector: usually poor utilization of technology, dependency on rain-fed practice, not to ignore challenges posed by climate change.
While the sector maintained a substantial growth, experts call for more and practical effort to promote mechanized agriculture and irrigation to at least partially substitute the rain-fed agriculture.
There is considerable room for investment when considering that significant percent of Ethiopia’s crop production is rain-fed, says Yenenesh Yogu, Agriculture Expert at the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resource.
“To ensure the continuous growth of productivity and production, it is imperative to minimize the heavy reliance on rain. There are areas with full irrigation potential. What it takes to exploit this opportunity is acquainting farmers with new technologies and improved farming package”, she adds.
She also emphasizes the need for developing the country’s irrigation systems and water-harvesting techniques. “Interms of technology utilization, what we need to prioritize is to embolden and create demand from the agrarian population to look for technologies, says Yenenesh adding, "we should give the technologies what the farmers need not what we wanted to give".
“Before introducing technologies we need to assess what is best for the farmers and best fit to the geographic and weather condition of localities. Nowadays, farmers are desirous to adopt new technologies with the help of development agents” she affirms.
In addition to deepening technological progress, Yenenesh believes, providing the farmers with improved seeds, fertilizers and farming packages also requires timely step.
Dr. Legese Wolde, Researcher at Holeta Agricultural Research Center on his behalf says modernizing the sector is a work in progress and requires a fixed eye and continuous commitment. To do so, introducing new technologies, creating robust experts, raising the awareness of the farmers are prerequisites, he says adding that to counter unavoidable impacts of climate change, promoting irrigation is the best alternative.
Once technologies are introduced what should be done is to encourage the farmers to adopt them, he further notes.
At times, improving the functioning of markets for agricultural inputs such as fertilizer, seed and outputs could also be a means to increase production, according to Dr. Legese.
Making agricultural inputs affordable and available can also help farmers get increased production. “There should also be feasible market linkage for smallholder farmers. This is what I think we hardly do”, says Dr. Legese.
Strengthening and diversifying cooperatives to provide better marketing services that serve as bridges between small farmers and the private sector is crucial.
For long mechanized farm has been on the table, but it seems to take place in slow motion. Mechanized farm is both time and cost effective, he believes.
Mechanized farming has been there for long but is at early stage. That is why the ministry designs mechanization strategy that focuses on smallholder farmers, says Tamiru Habte Mechanization Director at The Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resource.
"Mechanizing the sector is capital intensive. It demands huge sum of money to get combiners, tractors and other machineries. The smallholder farmers cannot afford to buy the machinery, hence private investments is expected to play critical role in availing them to users in reasonable price. Interestingly, famers are demanding more for technologies," states Tamiru.
The ministry works with small and micro scale enterprises and other businessmen to provide the machinery in the form of rent, reveals Tamiru.
According to him manufacturers should turn their face to producing agricultural equipment to substitute imported machinery and make them available to farmers. At the same time, the famers must learn how to operate the equipments. To do so, agricultural vocational colleges should be capacitated to train and guide the famers.
Usually, polices and strategies are designed in the way that bring positive impact on the sector but the implementation has been compromising the very objectives of such policies, says Tamiru.
As a check and balance, there is Agriculture Affairs Standing Committee at the House of People's Representative that monitor the sector's performance.
Almaz Mesele is the Chairperson of the Standing Committee. She says one of the limitation facing the sector is shortage of improved seeds. The problem is not about the demand of the farmers, it is up to supply of the seeds not to forget the quality of the seeds as well. There is discrepancy on the distribution of improved seeds, some areas have adequate access while other hardly get them, she stresses.
"We have witnessed production boost but could come under challenge unless the supply of improved seeds and fertilizer is enhanced. Besides ensuring utmost utilization of every drops of rain and expansion of irrigation need to be scaled up", she underscores.
One of the best yet simple way to create productive farmers is to scale up best practices and model farmers. there is no doubt that if farmers are supplied with the required technology and farming package, they would only be able to feed themselves but the whole nation, emphasises Minister Dr. Eyasu Abriha.
The demand for technology should come from the farmers' side. There is a clear understanding that those farmers with the required technology and package gains surplus production while the reverse is also true, according to Dr. Eyasu. That is why the performance of the sector differs among states, and there should be equal commitment and uniform practices to address the discrepancy, emphasises Dr. Eyasu.
What determines productivity is strict application of fertilizer and improved seeds and packages. Of course the sector is transforming. productivity is in steady growth, but brining structural change is far from over. "We need to get out of subsistence farming to commercial one," adds the Minister.
“With estimations showing production to register sharp growth, we need to do much to increase the profits of farmers. it is the combination of leadership commitment , farmers' hard work that help to revolutionize the sector. the nation is self sufficient but it needs to ensure national food security. It is when surplus production is attained that the country be able to feed itself. but what is important is, even if the country is hit by the worst drought, it has been able to contain the impacts and reduce human suffering”, he claims.
BY DESTA GEBREHIWOT
The Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity set to launch a new “Youth Irrigation Program” that would ultimately benefit hundreds of thousands of unemployed youth by involving them in modern commercial agriculture.
The program, set to be effective in the coming Ethiopian fiscal year, is expected to be quiet a success in engaging large number of unemployed youth in commercial agriculture, Dr. Seleshi Bekele Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity told The Ethiopian Herald.
According to the Minister, the youth would be offered with agricultural lands, access to state-developed irrigation outlets, capital and machineries so that they become investors in commercial agriculture. “Once the program is launched, more than 25,000 educated yet unemployed will be recruited to take part in the program,” said Dr. Seleshi.
This development initiative is believed to be prospective as it enables the youth to gain lucrative income, create employment opportunities for others and potentially become investors themselves. “It has a multiplier effect”, stated the Minister. The focus of the youth would be producing inputs for the industries that are being established across the country.
“Therefore, the program is designed to benefit at least 250,000 young people across the country and the implementation will be owned by state governments”, Dr. Seleshi further explained.
In addition to substantially reducing unemployment and benefiting a vast number of young people, Dr. Seleshi added, the program ensures that these young people would pioneer the expansion of modern commercial agriculture in Ethiopia.
BY HOMA MULISA
We usually hear people say 'reading makes a person complete', or other variations of those lines. But, what does that mean – being a complete person. It can mean anything for anyone. It can mean a person that is well-equipped and prepared to face the future. Or in another words, it can mean reading can allow a person to be fit to better face that challenges of what lie ahead.
Nevertheless, reading is an indisp- ensable tool in learning that forms an integral part of any learning situation, and the bedrock of education.
Reading can empower people with the knowledge and skills required for tackling paramount issues that ranges from poverty to climate change. Considering how developing countries face such issues such as poverty, hunger, disease, environmental degradation and others phenomenon, upping the reading culture of the nation is a no-brainer.
It is also important when considering reading culture can help students cultivate enough ability to cope with the changing dynamics of a fast changing economy, technology and the competitive nature of the globalization era. Through a well-drilled and consistent pattern of reading and study, students can go beyond just understanding academic subjects and passing exams. they can and should achieve academic progression by cultivating their reading habit.
Otherwise, a country will only be getting students that are made to read only materials necessary to pass exams, which will limit their perspective as their understanding will be within that pocket-sized scope. They can’t relate what they have learned to the outside world.
According to International Labor Office (ILO) G20 training strategy, countries will need to strengthen the ability of their workers to adapt to changing market demands and to benefit from innovation and investment in new technologies and so forth. Ultimately, young people today must be agile learners, able to adapt and learn new things quickly in a new fast-changing environment.
Thus, this means that countries, including Ethiopia, should prioritize an education system that involves lifetime learning, and skills development strategy. And one way of enshrining lifetime learning is by cultivating reading culture in schools among young students.
In an interview with The Ethiopian Herald, Dagnew Gebru, Deputy Head of Addis Ababa Education Bureau said that the country's national development plan, GTP, accounts for producing the manpower from our schools that can shoulder the ever growing economy of the country and the changing dynamics that comes with that.
“The GTP is an integrated plan that designs the level at which the economy will reach at certain time, along with the teaching and learning process, the education quality and the manpower that would achieve and shoulder the planned economic growth.”
How is the reading culture in Ethiopia?
Reading culture among school children and even adults is fast being eroded and is giving way for various reasons, says Firehiwot Assefa, an Expert at Addis Ababa City Government Education Bureau. She adds that the attention and focus given to reading by the society, youth and students is low to the point that it is hard to say that we have a culture of reading.
In contrast to Firehiwot, Tayachew Ayalew, Director of Mother Language and English Language Directorate with Ministry of Education, believes that reading culture is getting attention in the country. “There is an advocacy work that is being undertaken with the Prime Minister and other high officials in the lead to make reading a culture in the country.” Also, Mother Tongue Day that is held in collaboration between Ministry of Education and Tourism gives the perfect platform to educate the society on the importance of reading, he adds.
“It is because the government believes that education and reading as key ingredient to bring about economic, social and political change that the government allocates up to 25 percent of the yearly budget to the education and training sector. And one of the attention given at the education and training chapter of the national plan is on strengthening student's reading and comprehension skills.”
For Firehiwot, reading is the fundamental element in the teaching and learning process in any given society. She opines the reason anyone come to school is to learn and that happens when that person reads or have a reading habit. “Skills like listening and speaking can be learned from parents and from the environment where they grew up as kids, but when it comes to learning, they are sent to school.”
By and large, the importance of reading cannot be overemphasized, because no learning activity or situation can take place without reading.
She went further to say that a better reading culture would result a strong academic skill, which in turn would lead to producing better generation or crop of students that are capable of performing at global level, going toe-to-toe at global level, or that are competent enough to lead the country into the age of the vastly competitive globalization world that we live in.
Many people have convincingly pointed out that reading spurs children's imagination and encourages quick learning as well as widen their views, expand their horizon and help them understand the actual realities surrounding them. Furthermore, reading boosts their curiosity and ability to handle complex ideas. This brings advantages to students with good learning habit.
There has been many research that linked student performance with reading culture. According to many researches done in African countries, it has been found out that “reading habit is the most effective way of developing reading skill among youth, and it can improve their academic performances, and become productive memeber of a society.”
Ethiopia's case is no different to other African countries, as Tayachew affirmed that there is a link between reading culture and student performance. He also stressed that learning through mother tongue should be given attention in order to cultivate reading habit of children so as to improve the instructional and learning process which will improve students academic performance.
In regards to Ethiopia, Tayachew states that “there have been a research that was done back in 2006, which found out that learning through mother tongue/ first language should be given attention in order to cultivate reading habit within children”, and thereby improve their academic performance.
Further explaining, he said that, among other factors, the research found out that learning outside of their mother tongue for children bring too much load on their mind to have to translate what their teachers said to them at tender age. The thinking here is that the additional load of translation brings makes it reading for the children an unattractive proposition.
Although not fundamental, immediate improvement has been seen with regards to the reading culture among young students and children, and a severe decrease has been recorded in the number of zero readers, after adjustments have been done as a result to the research's findings, the Director summarized.
“Language has huge role in reading culture. Moreover, it has been found out that learning with mothers tongue/ in first language has benefits in terms of learning in second languages like English, and other subjects like math and science.” Making his point further, he said that researches done whether here or at international level have all agreed that learning in first language contributes positively to reading habit.
Firehiwot for her part also noted that children not being able to learn in their mother language have impacted negatively in the reading culture, and ultimately their performances saying reading is very much dependent on language skill and works have been done at national and regional level to rectify the issue with good results.
In addition to this, the Director mentioned that as one way of helping students cultivate good reading culture in a bid to better cope with the global dynamism that exist in the technology or economy and better shoulder the future, the education and training sector have prepared and distributed supplementary reading books (to the main text books) that are prepared in their mother tongue to their local libraries. This is aimed at encouraging students and children to read by themselves and make themselves capable in line with the times.
The quality of development any country achieves depends on the type of education it has – or in other words the competency of manpower or experts it produces. And the core of this success lays on the ability to read and write. So, what should be done to cultivate and nurture reading culture in schools, libraries and in the country as a whole – approaching the issue at policy level, according to Tayachew.
“Reading is a lifelong learning process. For me, the role it must have in the vision of our country (to enter middle income status) is irreplaceable. Any student or person at any level should read in order to always change himself or herself for the better.”
The fact that the government is giving it huge attention can be taken as good and should be commended for the fact that the issue being handled at ministerial level, saying that he recommends for the approach to go further than this with political commitment.
As an expert or professional, people should be readers, and a directive should be put in place to guide them in that regard. Reading culture in our country should be lead by a vision, an objective, and a strategic goal. If we do that, we can bring many positive changes in making reading a culture within the society.
BY ROBEL YOHANNES