Posts tagged ‘Dagim Terefe’

February 7, 2017

Nile Basin Water Journalists, Researchers Excited By a UNESCO-IHE Project Targeting Bringing Them Together

Fredrick Mugira
February 07, 2017

Dr. Emanuele Fantini, the Project Manager, Open Water Diplomacy Lab in the middle with officials from project partner organisations

Dr. Emanuele Fantini, the Project Manager, Open Water Diplomacy Lab in the middle with officials from project partner organisations

For over 20 years Ishraga Abbas has practiced professional journalism in Sudan – one of the most water-stressed countries on the earth – she has had an ambiguous relationship with water researchers.

She actually does not remember teaming up with any water researcher to work on a water story based on the researcher’s findings. In the answer to the obvious question – why hasn’t she been collaborating with water researchers? She says: “Some researchers shy away from journalists. They prefer communicating their findings to their fellow researchers only.”

This ambiguous relationship can perhaps even trace its roots back to journalists. Some journalists misrepresent the researchers’ facts; lack exposure to water issues or simply are not interested in covering the multifaceted water issues.

This subsequently manifests itself, as neglected coverage of water stories. But, a new project –Open Water Diplomacy Lab – has kicked off targeting bringing journalists, water scientists and researchers together.

Among others, Open Water Diplomacy Lab addresses the needs and demands of water journalists in terms of facilitated access to potential sources of information – getting scientific research on water communicated in an accessible and ready to use, meeting and working with water researchers and water diplomats – and opportunities to support and promote media coverage on water issues. The project focuses on the Nile basin and it is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs “Global Partnership for water and development”.

“First, we are going to study how Nile issues are communicated in both mainstream and social media in Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. Building on the research findings we will develop join training activities for journalists and scientists coming from the Nile countries. Finally, they will be pulled together to work at original projects to promoted shared narratives about the Nile, overcoming the mainstream national interest perspective” explains Emanuele Fantini, Senior Researcher at UNESCO-IHE and project coordinator.

He was speaking at the kick-off workshop “Mapping Nile controversies: media, science and water diplomacy” held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2017.

Now, journalists like Ishgara – who actually attended this workshop – say this project will boost the quality of water journalism in the Nile basin.

Likewise, Dagim Terefe, an Ethiopian journalist and documentary maker states that Open Water Diplomacy Lab project will help to give birth to a generation of journalists that specifically concentrate on investigating River Nile issues.

Such journalists, as Dagim notes: “Will no longer write the story of the sharing of Nile waters with a nationalistic thinking as it is now but an informed broader context that caters for other countries where the Nile meanders.”

True. This is a responsibility journalists in the Nile basin cannot simply walk away from. It makes sense to believe that journalists have a crucial role to play in ending the Nile wars between countries that share this longest river on the planet.

Actually, Wondwosen Seide, a doctoral student at Lund University in Sweden, who has been researching on the River Nile issues for the last 10 years, believes that Nile wars are: “Mainly in the media landscape than on ground.”
According to Wondwosen, this project is: “Very crucial in bridging controversies and contradicting reporting among the riparian states.”

It is no surprise that this project, will lead to a more responsive relationship between journalists and water researchers. And as Prof. Dr. Yacob Arsano of Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia argues, this project will bring journalists and researchers together to identify the real issues in the Nile discourse.

Against such a background, Open Water Diplomacy Lab will truly breed journalists that can help researchers and agencies working on the Nile to disseminate the story of the Nile.

Having story of the Nile in the media, as Dr. Wubalem Fekade, the head of the Social Development and Communication Unit at the Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO) of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) based in Addis Ababa contends, would: “Help decision and policy makers in the Nile basin to make very enlightened and bold decisions that contribute to sustainable management of the river.”

It is easy to understand that water is a strategic resource for livelihoods. This is the reason why Atta el-Battahani, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Khartoum contends that: “It is important that we know about it so that we can manage it very well for the benefit of the people.”

February 3, 2017

Access to Credit and Technology Can Improve Crop Yield among Smallholder Farmers: UN University Report Confirms

Dagim Terefe
February 3, 2017

Several farmers in Africa lack access to credit and technology

Several farmers in Africa lack access to credit and technology

A study supported by the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA) confirmed that access to credit and technology can increase crop yield among smallholder farmers in Africa.

The research findings, reported in the Institute’s working paper entitled “Crop Yield Volatility among Smallholder Farmers” revealed that smallholder farmers who had access to credit obtained an increased yield of 35.5 percent per acre compared to their counterparts who did not have access to credit.

Similarly, the results showed that smallholder farmers who adopted farming technologies such as improved seeds and fertility-restoring technologies like organic manure, had about 65.7 percent increase in yields per acre than farmers who did not adopt any farming technology.

The research, led by Dr. James Atta Peprah, explored factors that influence crop yield volatility among rural and urban smallholder farmers in Ghana.

According to Dr. Peprah and the research team, the findings confirm the significant roles that credit and yield-raising technologies such as improved seed varieties, fertility-restoring and conservation technologies can play in improving the yield of rural smallholder farmers.

He noted that “the results back calls to make credit available to rural farmers to purchase farming inputs so as to increase their productivity”.

The study therefore calls on policy makers to strengthen existing agricultural policies to target reduction of the cost of credit for smallholder farmers so as to enhance their access to credit.

It also admonishes financial institutions to put in place special packages for farmers as well as measures to ensure that funds given out to farmers for agricultural activities are not diverted for other purposes.
In addition to access to credit, the paper calls for education and training of smallholder farmers, especially by Agriculture Extension Officers, on the use of technology.

More specifically, the study is advocating for farmers to be trained and advised to adopt yield-raising technologies such as organic manure, improved seeds suitable for local conditions, and modern agricultural machinery to facilitate their farming activities for poverty reduction.

February 3, 2017

Ethiopia: Why Conservation of Wetlands Makes Sense

Dagim Terefe
February 3, 2017

As the world celebrated the 2017 World Wetlands Day on Thursday, February 2 2017, the focus this time around was on the role played by wetlands in reducing the impact of natural disasters. Defined as land areas that are flooded with water, either seasonally or permanently, wetlands are said to be a natural buffer against disasters. However, no governmental and nongovernmental bodies have been observed in celebrating this year’s World Wetlands Day in Ethiopia.

According to Ramsar Convention Secretariat wetlands are defined as: “Areas of marsh, fen, peat land or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres.”

wetlands-day

It is obvious that Ethiopia exhibits a wide range of geologic formations and climatic conditions which create numerous wetland ecosystems including 12 rivers, eight major lakes, and many swamps and floodplains.

Natural resource researchers list a total of 77 wetlands in Ethiopia and the country of Eritrea, finding that Ethiopian wetlands span a 13,699 km2 area. Even though an exhaustive inventory of wetlands is not done yet, wetlands are estimated to cover about 2% of the country’s land coverage. Ethiopia is often referred to as the “water tower of Africa,” as Ethiopia spans an entire watershed area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Despite their small area coverage, wetlands in Ethiopia are among the most productive ecosystems, and have immense economic, social, and environmental benefits. However, there is little or no awareness of the current status, threats, or values of Ethiopian wetlands, or even the need for their conservation and sustainable utilization.

Although there are individuals in various organizations with various expertise and awareness, no coordination exists between these organizations for the conservation, management, and wise use of wetlands in Ethiopia. At another scale, the mandates of stakeholder institutions to address wetland issues are not clearly defined. As a result, there is no entry point for one to initiate any effective wetland undertaking at the moment.

According to Tadessse Amsalu (PhD), researcher, wetlands provide with various benefits to global ecosystems and local communities. They are vital sources of water and fodder, particularly during dry season and in times of drought, to both domestic and wild animals.

Wetlands also serve as important sources of food, construction and fuel wood, raw materials for making household furniture, fodder, and medicine to rural communities. Poor rural households, particularly women, rely on wetlands for additional income to their families. Hence, wetlands contribute significantly to efforts aimed at poverty reduction and food self-sufficiency. Growing number of people in Ethiopia, in both rural and urban areas, depend on wetland resources for their survival.

Many peasant farmers in the western parts of the country make their living from wetlands. Communities who live around the wetlands in the Rift Valley lakes, and Lake Tana benefit a lot from fishing and irrigation farming.

According to Amsalu (PhD), wetlands serve to slow down storm flood, trap sediments, protect property damage in downstream, and the siltation of dams. Studies also reveal that wetlands have a role in ameliorating adverse climatic variations. As scientific understanding of wetlands has increased, more subtle goods and services have become apparent. Wetlands have been described both as “the kidneys of the landscape”, because of the functions they can perform in the hydrological and chemical cycles, and as “biological supermarkets” because of the extensive food webs and rich biodiversity they support.

Notwithstanding their diverse services and values, the misconceptions on wetlands have led people to consider them as waste lands that are infested by malaria and other vectors, Amsalu stressed.

The loss of ecosystem services of wetlands can have both economic and environmental consequences. While rates of wetland loss are documented for the developed world, the limited study of these ecosystems in Ethiopia leaves majority with little to say.

Wetlands serve a variety of important ecological functions including recharging groundwater supplies and trapping floodwaters

Wetlands serve a variety of important ecological functions including recharging groundwater supplies and trapping floodwaters

Although wetlands provide wide ranging social, economic, and environmental benefits, because of mismanagement and inappropriate utilization, Amsalu(PhD) noted that, several of them have either disappeared or are on the verge of drying out globally. He mentioned out that recent total drying up of Lake Alemaya and the precarious existence of Lake Abijata as clear evidences of the looming danger on wetland ecosystem. Unless the necessary management and conservation strategy is in place, the disappearance of more wetlands appears to be unavoidable, he stressed.

Ethiopia’s economic growth and development put growing demands on the river system and the basin’s resources. Wetlands are key natural environmental assets providing crucial ecosystem services that support livelihoods and socio-economic development in the basin. Their role in mitigating climate change and supporting climate resilience as well as safeguarding water, food and energy security is currently threatened through their insufficient protection and management.

According to Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), the Nile Basin is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change owing to a multiplicity of factors. Basin communities have limited ability to cope with the negative impacts of climate variability. There is scientific consensus that the region can expect an increase in frequency and severity of extreme events like floods, droughts, and heat waves, and an intensification of natural variability.

The socio-economic consequences of climate change in the basin will be severe and exacerbate the impacts of existing challenges. These include, among others, negative impacts on agriculture, fisheries and livestock, with strong implications for food security and future economic growth. Hence, according to NBI’s Wetland Management Strategy, member states need to cooperate in order to tackle the existing threats and ensure sustainable socio-economic development is crucial.

On the other hand, recognizing the value of wetlands in the livelihood of local communities as well as in sustaining a productive ecosystem and biodiversity, Ethiopia is in the process of developing a protocol consistent with the Ramsar Convention and also has drafted a National Wetland Policy awaiting approval of the law makers. A number of National and Regional Wetland Awareness creation and consultative workshops have been carried out in Ethiopia to attract the attention and win the will of policy makers on wetlands management.

Therefore, organizations such as the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Organization, the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change; various scholars from Universities and research institutions, the Ethiopian Wetland Research Programme (EWRP) and the Ethio-Wetlands and Natural Research Association (EWNRA) should keep their efforts to promote the importance of wetlands and.

November 5, 2016

Ethiopia: Jimma University Boss Urges Research into River Basins and Dams’ State

Dagim Terefe
November 5, 2016

Negash Teklu, Executive Director Population Health Environment Ethiopia Consortium , Executive Director Population Health Environment Ethiopia Consortium

Negash Teklu, Executive Director Population Health Environment Ethiopia Consortium.

Population Health Environment Ethiopia Consortium also known as PHEE in collaboration with Jimma University and Health Bureau of Oromia has conducted a workshop on linkages of climate change, population dynamics and Reproductive Health/Family Planning in river basins, forests, protected and pastoralist areas of Oromia Regional State in Ethiopia.

More than one 100 people from research institutions, government organizations, house of people representatives and NGOs participated in the workshop in Addis Ababa.

Negash Teklu, Executive Director of PHE noted that they aimed at exploring the linkages among climate change, population dynamics, RH/FP, development issues and to recommend multi-sectorial partnership and share best practices in adapting to climate change challenges from the various regions taking in to account Oromia region.

Representative of the Minister, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said that integration to achieve the country’s Growth and Transformation Plan II (GTPII) in line with building Climate Resilient Green Economy is essential and thus appreciate efforts for the organisation of the workshop.

“Due to the fact that participatory natural resource conservation, reforestation and other related activities have been carried out during the past decade, Ethiopia’s forest coverage has been significantly improved,” Dr. Sheferaw says.

Speaking during this occasion, Dr. Taye Tolemariam, the Vice President of Jimma University pointed out that research findings on river basins of Gilgil Gibe I Electricity Dam and Omo Gibe revealed the risk of siltation and said such research findings and measures which were taken should be expanded to other river basins and dams in the country.

“The main recommendation is to solve the existing problems that were raised in pastoralists, river basins and protected areas and thus a joint platform is necessary where a different line ministries, stakeholder NGOs, and universities take initiatives and discuss the issues to bring a tangible solutions to the communities,” Negash says.

October 31, 2016

Ethiopia: Spring Brings Hope from Summer Rain

Dagim Terefe
October 31, 2016

Many Ethiopians rely on rainfall to grow crops, feed their animals, and maintain their livelihoods.

Many Ethiopians rely on rainfall to grow crops, feed their animals, and maintain their livelihoods.

For the last several decades, Ethiopia has been hit by persistent drought that damaged agricultural production and resulted in malnutrition, especially among the most vulnerable members of the population, who live in north eastern and eastern parts of the country.

Last year also, the country was hit by one of the worst droughts in over 50 years. Due to the El Nino and the resulting drought, some 14 million people were at risk and more than 10 million were in need of emergency food aid. However, in an effort to save the lives of Ethiopians, mostly the government, and humanitarian agencies have spent more than one billion USD and are still striving to curb the effects of the El Nino.

According to recent USAID assessment report, in the agro-pastoral and pastoral areas of Afar, a regional state which is highly affected, the drought has caused the death of approximately 105,000 cattle, more than 440,000 goats and sheep, 15,000 camels, and an estimated 4,500 donkeys. The assessment report also revealed that food security and reduction in access to safe drinking water across the region increased reliance on relief food assistance.

As part of the response to tackle the risk of communicable diseases in drought affected areas due to delayed and incomplete food assistance distributions, as well as limited access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services, the government and its humanitarian partners have pushed to vaccine 25 million children to prevent the occurrence of disease against measles in more than 500 drought affected Woredas (districts), reports have shown.

While the delegation team led by state minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Wondirad Mandefro visited farming sites during harvesting at Siltie and Guraghe zones in South Nation’s Nationalities and People’s Region on 27 August 2016, Wondirad discussed with farmers how they were conducting their farming and whether they were using fertilizers and modern agricultural technologies such as urea, dap, special seeds, pest sides or not. The state minister stated that the awareness of farmers needs to be raised in order to achieve their farming process successfully. He, also, underlined that farmers should use alternative water sources by making local river water diversions.

Responding to question about the farming condition, Wondrad also noted the some 11.3-million-hectare of farmland has been already covered by seeds excluding chickpea and vetch from the total plan of 13-million-hectare farmland. He added that since there has been adequate rainfall, it is expected to harvest high crop production at the end of this year, which may compensate last year’s low level of production as a consequence of the Eli Nino. Currently, there is hope due to normal climate pattern during harvesting in summer and post harvesting (October-January 2016/17). The farmers are preparing themselves to collect good agricultural productions.

Ethiopia experiences highly variable climate patterns and is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Ethiopia experiences highly variable climate patterns and is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

According to National Metrological Agency of Ethiopia report, the onset of the ‘Kiremt’ (summer) rain was normal over most ‘Kiremt’ rain benefiting areas of the nation. No pro-longed dry spell observed over northern half, central and eastern parts of the nation. The rain has continued in September over Kiremt rain benefiting areas. Moreover, in ‘Bega’( October-January 2016/17) northeast, central and eastern Ethiopia are highly likely to receive normal with the possibility of below normal rainfall at some places of the country will create favorable condition for general agricultural activities and availability of pasture and water, according to National Metrological Agency of Ethiopia report.

The Ethiopian Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) strategy which was launched at Durban during climate change conference (COP17) clearly set that the country experiences highly variable climate patterns and is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The recent drought is a good scenario in this regard. To counter these effects, Ethiopia aims to build a strong and diversified economy which is ‘climate resilient’.

As a country, largely reliant on rain-fed agriculture and in the process of diversifying its economy, climate dependency should not stand in a way of Ethiopia to achieving middle income status by 2025. However, on the other hand, conducive biological, social and economic conditions are being observed in Ethiopia to achieve climate resilient green growth, according to researchers.

As Ethiopia is rain dependent, and has largely backward farming practices, agriculture is seriously challenged by successive rain shortages. Hence, according to environmentalists, engaging in integrated water shade management at large scale and sustainably utilizing both underground and surface water for farming, sanitation and hygiene services are highly recommended to alleviate the ongoing problems.

The Government of Ethiopia is continuing to work with the aim to mitigating the vulnerability of climate change by giving emphasis in developing and expanding renewable energy sources and technologies. The government is becoming aware of safe drinking water and healthy sanitation to agriculture, water is essential for life.

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