About 85 percent of Ethiopian population lives in rural areas. Most rural livelihoods depend on subsistence farming which is highly backward. Realizing this, the government has been striving to lift citizens out abject poverty over the last two decades.
As a result, per capita income has transformed to 794 USD in 2016 from 377 USD in 2010. This helps the nation to cop up with the severe drought broke out back in 2016 with own capacity. Thus, rural people, particularly pastoralists and semi-pastoralists, have built resilience.
Though many improvements have been noticed in the life of rural livelihoods over the last two decades, there are still many problems which pertinent stakeholders are toiling to address.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources 2017 report, unemployment rate in Ethiopia was an all-time high of 26.40 percent in 1999. But it has seen a record low of 16.80 percent in 2015.
From this, one can understand that there tough challenges ahead which the government and development partners need to overcome.
Land allocation seems to be one of the important areas that the government has to work hard. Many youths have not owned land to create job and change their life.
Meanwhile, the government has been working to reduce absolute poverty. In the First Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP-I) (2010/11-2014/15), great range of development endeavors have been accomplished in the rural areas. Infrastructure and social-service providing institutions such as roads, bridges, hospitals, schools and universities have been built. These institutions have hugely benefited the rural society.
The Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTPII) (2015/16-2019/20) has aimed at sustaining and transforming the fast economic growth to higher level. Besides, it has planned to empower the rural livelihoods. A number of youths who were graduated from public and private universities are landless and lacking job opportunity. As a result, they were vulnerable to migration to urban areas and other countries. What makes the situation more tragic is that the youths have been affected by illegal human traffickers. They have been facing such challenges due to their weak economic muscle.
Taking this into consideration, the government has been implementing various programs which could solve the economic problem of the rural youth.
As part of the economic empowerment scheme, rural youth have been supported by the government and development partners to engage in animal husbandry, beekeeping, poultry and other activities. The Federal government has established 10 billion Birr revolving fund in 2017 to empower the unemployed youth in rural and urban areas of the country.
Ethiopia has immense natural resources, favorable climate and sustainable peace and stability. More than anything else, the 70 percent young demographic base would be huge driving force for the overall development.
The government should step up its efforts in creating job and social service opportunities to the youth and other low income societies. In this regard, the rural youth and poor livelihoods should be supported to engage in various agricultural activities. Modern agricultural technologies are highly needed to change the rural life. Thus, the government is diligently working to scale up the success stories being gained in the rural areas in GTPI. If so, the nation would set itself to middle income status by 2025.
BY TSEGAY HAGOS