EPRDF’s persistent failure to handle minor droughts independently
By Berhane Kahsay
Tigrai Online, October 14, 2015
The EPRDF government has a bad record as it always tends to rush and summon donors every time the country is afflicted by drought
Ethiopia’s persistent double-digit economic growth of the last couple of decades has hugely helped in altering the image of the country which was synonymous with grisly famine and bloody conflicts. International financial institutions have predicted that the East African nation would be become the third largest economy in the continent in three to four years time. Ethiopia has now reached a stage where it can comfortably manage multiple mega projects such as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Bole International Airport expansion, building of oil pipeline to Djibouti and the construction of 5060 km railway lines to name but a few.
No doubt, the current government has done a magnificent job in elevating the stature of the country globally but a great deal of hard work remains to be expended in order to entirely leave behind the association of drought and famine with Ethiopia. This is achievable provided the world headline grabbing sustained economic growth and wealth creation continues unabated. To earn the respect of our continent and others, we also have to unequivocally show our ability to deal with periodic draughts without external intervention. It would not be too difficult to make this a reality as all that is needed is to pull the nation’s financial and human resources in order to ensure self-sufficiency in food production.
But in this regard the present government has a bad record as it always tends to rush and summon donors every time the country is afflicted by drought. At present 7.5 million Ethiopians are in need of food assistance and it is embarrassing and humiliating indeed to observe our smartly dressed leaders scuttling from one donor meeting into another with their begging bowls. Many Ethiopians must have been sizzling with rage when the Minister of Information, Mr Redwan Hussein, told reporters that ‘’ the support from donor agencies has not yet arrived in time to let us cope with increasing number of the needy population.’’ Mr Hussein said this with a straight face and no trace of shame.
How is it possible that a country whose economy has been growing by over ten percent for a number of years cannot cope with a drought of this magnitude without knocking at the doors of donors? According to the UN’s estimate, $273million is needed to help the victims, and the three large scale projects currently underway in Ethiopia alone, are expected to cost $5.95b. With the huge wealth created over the last twenty years as well as the capacity to manage multiple mega projects simultaneously, it surely shouldn’t be beyond Ethiopia’s capacity to handle minor droughts without the necessity for the degrading foreign aid.
If the government is not able to cope with a rain failure that has only affected 7.5 million out of a population of 90 million people, then it should do the honourable thing and give way to those with strategies and vision within the party that can tackle the natural problem once and for all. The party in office ought to bear in mind that national pride is innumerably important than the hundreds of high rise buildings and asphalts of all sorts that have been built since the collapse of the military junta.
By running to the UN for help, the EPRDF has gravely injured the positive image of the country that has been in the making since 1991. The organisation has inflicted a serious political harm upon itself and the exemplary and envious track record that it succeeded in cultivating over the years has been affected substantially. And to regain its hard toiled reputable status, it has to prove to its own people and the world at large that, if a similar situation was to recur, it wouldn’t plead for external relief and that it would only balance food shortages using national wealth at its disposal. It is utterly humiliating coming across of headlines splashed globally reporting ‘hunger’ in Ethiopia in a graphic manner. Those managing the country must shield the good name of the proud nation by ensuring that nothing of the sort is repeated again. Enough is enough.