The ruling party is confident in telling us about its leadership that will make poverty history at the end of the Growth & Transformation Plan (GTP). But, now, its leadership faces the history books of drought, rather than of poverty.
I believe drought caused by climate change is uncontrollable, but food insecurity driven by drought is controllable. It directly correlates with the economic status of the country. Anywhere in the world, ensuring food security is one of the main duties and responsibilities of government.
In discussion with the Ethiopian Diaspora, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn declared his government’s capability to cope up with drought saying, “Ethiopia is able to feed itself”. Additionally, former government spokesman, Redwan Hussien, not only told us about governmental capacity to handle food insecurity without international assistance, but he also told us that pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities’ failure to deliver water to their cattle is the main factor aggravating drought impacts on livestock. I believe the statement by Redwan comes from ignorance about indigenous knowledge of pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities. He seems to have neither indigenous knowledge of pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities coping with climate change related drought, nor knowledge of their close association with their cattle.
Various international organisations, including the United Nations, report about more than 8.2 million people need food aid in our country. We have started to listen to ruling party officials calling for international assistance. For me, these reports about food insecurity due to the current drought not only make the ruling party’s double digit economic growth propaganda a mere fantasy, but it tells us that the the government is incapable of sustainably tackling hunger and feeding its people.
The big question is why the EPRDF failed to tackle the drought cause on the ground. I think a corrupt governance system, coupled with government’s land and agriculture policy, render the party incapable of feeding millions that are looking for help. It is such a puzzle that this is all happening after 24 years of leadership under a single party.
In discussing the problem of food shortage, we must clearly recognise the role of governance in the overall scheme of things. Good governance, the antithesis of corruption, must be embraced and adopted wholeheartedly because it holds the key to food security on a sustained basis.
Systematic corruption by top government officials has already created the yawning gap between the rich and the poor in our country. It inhibits social and economic development, and negatively impacts national as well as regional development. It deprives ordinary citizens of the benefits that should accrue to them, such as freedom from hunger.
No initiative, whether on food security or poverty alleviation, or anything else for that matter, will work in the absence of ethical public behaviour as a result of poor governance culture. Over the past years, no significant intervention in terms of increase in income and sustainable agricultural productivity has been achieved. Countries that are apparently incapable of providing sufficient food for their people, need help with restructuring their economic, social and governance systems, to bring them into the mainstream of regional and international best practice so that they may enjoy a higher degree of prosperity, better education, gainful employment, and freedom from hunger on a sustained basis.