By Zerihun Getachew
Ethiopia nowadays is increasingly setting an example on how to combat climate change while also achieving economic growth.
“It is very well known by the international community that Ethiopia is one of the front-runners of international climate policy, if not the leading African country,” Fritz Jung, the representative of bilateral development cooperation at the Addis Ababa German Embassy, tells IPS.
This Horn of Africa nation has learned more than most that one of the most critical challenges facing developing countries is achieving economic prosperity and counters climate change.
According to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “maximum and minimum temperatures over equatorial East Africa will rise and … climate models show warming in all four seasons over Ethiopia, which may result in more frequent heat waves.”
Ethiopia has also recognized how its abundance of waterways offer huge hydro-electric generation potential. Today, massive public infrastructure works are attempting to harness this potential to lift the country out of poverty.
In Africa, the primary concern is adapting to the negative impacts of climate change.
The report recognizes Ethiopia as one of the countries that have “adopted national climate resilience strategies with a view to applying them across economic sectors.”
Along with China and India, Ethiopia provided a case study for researchers conducting a year-long investigation into issues such as macroeconomic policy and impacts; innovation, energy, finance and cities; and agriculture, forests and land use.
Ethiopia’s Climate-Resilient Green Economy (CRGE), a strategy launched in 2011 to achieve middle-income status by 2025 while developing a green economy, “is proof of Ethiopia’s visionary engagement for combining socio-economic development as well as environmental sustainability,” Jung says.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a German government-backed international enterprise for sustainable development, has partnered with Ethiopian government organizations to tackle environmental issues.
One program has been the Sustainable Land Management Program (SLMP), launched in 2008.
Northern Ethiopia suffered significant soil erosion and degradation — with farmers driven to cultivate the steepest slopes, suspending themselves by ropes — before attempts were made to counter ecological destruction.
Since then approximately 250,000 hectares of degraded land in Ethiopia’s highland areas of Amhara, Oromia and Tigray — in which over 50 percent of Ethiopia’s 94 million people live — has been restored to productivity.
This has been achieved through promoting sustainable land management practices such as the use of terracing, and improvement of pastureland and permanent green cover, benefiting more than 100,000 households.