Ethiopia: Internal Capacity to Mitigate Natural Disaster Growing –

by Zelalem

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited drought affected areas in Arsi Zone of Oromia State during his stay for the AU Summit held last February in Addis. Following the visit, Ban said: ” When political leaders unite and show compassionate leadership drought problem would be arrested.”

He lauded the aid distribution on the spot and the commitment the Ethiopian government showed to address the problem.

The recent El Nino induced drought has been characterized globally a devastating natural disaster the world has ever faced over the last 50 years. Stressful situation also loomed in Ethiopia due to this natural phenomena.

But, the government was proactive to deal with the situation. It had never waited the hands of foreigners, though they came at last for gesture. The people and government of Ethiopia have successfully resisted the drought. International organizations have also described the government’s reaction to the situation as ‘ exceptional ‘.

As many say, the capacity Ethiopia displayed during the El Nino induced drought is a clear manifestation that it is on the right transformation track.

National Disaster Risk Management Commissioner Mitiku Kassa said that the very reason for coping with El Nino impact and disasters emanates from the incumbent’s viable strategies and policies.

He said the Commission unveiled a national response to deter El Nino impacts and cope with any disaster phenomena through intensified efforts in natural resources conservation , forest development and also building food reserve capacity.

The Commissioner said the government has swiftly responded and closely followed the situation through the national committee whose structure was cascaded up to the kebele level. “This enabled the government to coordinate resources and logistics solicited at home and abroad to reach out the needy.”

He said the government allocated 16.5 billion Birr to buy wheat and distribute human and animal feed , water and other assistance to the drought victims. “No more hunger that claims citizens lives. Whatsoever the drought is costly, it won’t be out of control.”

According to Mitiku, Ethiopia is now in a different orientation. The country is creating wealth among the nation as its economy has been growing rapidly. The growth of the national economy has created millionaires if not billionaires.

These entrepreneurs are behind the development of the country and potential partners to the government as well. This has also contributed to build the national potential in mitigating natural disaster, he said.

According to him, the process of identifying and designing strategies to manage risks is undertaken in a coordinated manner from federal down to kebele level.

Presently, flood risk is a threatening disaster because of La Nina likely to affect 1.5 million fellow citizens. The Commission has accordingly prepared all food and non food items allocating own resources.

The Early Warning, Alert and Response System (EWARS) approach developed with development partners to conduct public health surveillance, detect disease outbreak and cases of severe acute malnutrition during emergencies in flood prone areas of the country.

As the phenomena surfaced, directions were put to build Strategic Food Reserve capacity and those involved in saving life and minimizing its impacts have marched in a coordinated way.

The double digit economic growth registered over the last two decades had created the potential to withstand drought and other natural problems. But this does not mean everything is over we still need to boost productivity and enhance natural resource conservation, among others.

The Ministry of Farming and Natural Resource told Ethiopian Press Agency that preparations have already been made to harvest over 300 million quintals this crop season. All agricultural and natural resource development activities are aligned with the national response to cope with any disaster.

Ministry Public Relation Directorate Director Alemayehu Birhanu said that over 13 million hectare of land has been cultivated so far. The Ministry is working to boost productivity this main rainy season to cover 2.2 million hectare with seed and also expand irrigation development.

He attributed the increased production and productivity to the practical training for farmers and improvement in the supply of agricultural inputs.

Farmers have been acquainted with mechanisms to protect flood and use it for harvest if the rain distribution is below the normal average.

The government has allocated over 7.6 billion Birr for farmers who have not attained food security at household level through developmental safety net programme. He said 187,000 families embraced in the programme would have been graduated but could not be realized due to the drought.

Along with the safety net programme, the federal government also allocated over 304 million Birr for 233,000 households to improve the livelihood of the families.

“We do have a grand success story that surpassed targets by a significant margin in the area of natural resource conservation and management in GTP I. In the GTP II the performance should be replicated to cope with any disaster.”

Strategic Food Reserve Agency Public Relations Coordination Director Tesfaye Alamirew said: ” The country’s actual stock has reached 673,000 metric tonnes while additional 238,714.59 metric tonnes of food was purchased by the government showing its capability to absorb shocks posed by El Nino.

The Agency delivers grain demand immediately and is to build the stock up to one million metric tonnes. The International Humanitarian donors and the commission collect grains from the warehouses. The commitment of the government enabled to create coordination among actors. ” Presently, the country could deliver any food or non food item to the needy if disaster happens, ” he said.

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Public Relations Director Debasu Bayileyegn said there is a national plan to boost forest coverage and this summer over 4.3 billion seedlings would be transplanted on a million hectare.

Other rewards could be reaped with less carbon emission, increase soil fertility and underground water reservation capacity that all give to deter climate change influence, he said, adding the ultimate goal is to build the capacity of the nation in mitigating drought.

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