Advocacy for Ethiopia* Press Release, 22 April 2010 — As the world celebrates Earth Day today, the inequitable impact of climate change and environmental degradation on Africa and the developing countries makes it important that Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia take a moment to reflect on the state of our planet and the environmental degradation taking place in Africa, as it is manifested in Ethiopia. Africa remains the most vulnerable continent to climate change in the world.
It is expected that if green gas emissions continue at the current rate, Africa will heat up by at least 4 degrees Celsius which will make most parts of the continent uninhabitable. Moreover, it is expected that within the next 10 years agricultural output in Africa will decrease by 50%. The lack of sound infrastructures and environmental policies, coupled with leaders who are dictators and autocrats whose sole interest is to strip the continent of whatever resources, have exacerbated the colossal environmental problems throughout the continent.
As the world community celebrates Earth Day, Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi is engaged in lip service to impress western communities. His recent lectures and workshops on the protection of the earth are not truly reflective of the otherwise disastrous state of environmental degradation taking place under his watch. His unabashed betrayal of Africa at the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December 09, the trade policies of his regime which allows for land grab by international firms that promote the total exhaustion of the land; the use of pesticides that has led to the depletion of the soil: his industrial development policies that have caused the pollution of significant water resources throughout Ethiopia, and the pervasiveness of child and maternal deaths and diseases due to air and waterborne pollution and toxicity are in stark contrast to his government’s empty claims of stewardship to the natural resources of the country and the guardian of the environment. We find it therefore ironic that Mr. Zenawi is taking the mantle of spokesperson for Africa’s environment.
While Mr. Zenawi’s governmental representatives state “the Ethiopian Earth Day Celebration will look at human health, gender roles, wildlife protection, water, sanitation, agriculture, suitable business practice, land protection/management, etc.”, Ethiopia is facing an ecological catastrophe: deforestation, desertification, water pollution, air pollution, soil erosion, and overgrazing are the realities of the Ethiopian environment. Massive environmental degradation and lack of a sustainable development policy and practice are the glaring features of Zenawi’s regime. Moreover, 87 % of the population depend on agriculture for their livelihood but do not have ownership of the land. This is in line with Prime Minister Meleses’ policy which denies the populous of basic human rights that includes the right to clean air, water, and sustainable use of resources that are glaringly lacking in Ethiopia.
*Advocacy for Ethiopia is a global coalition formed to advance human rights, rule of law, good governance, the protection of the environment and sustainable development in Ethiopia.