Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ethiopian Women: Adanech Admassu

I’m always really excited to learn about Ethiopian women who are movers and shakers. In our patriarchal culture, we tend to honor and highlight male heroes, which is fine and dandy but it’s also important to recognize the countless women who have contributed to our societies and continue to do so. Their work is great inspiration for a new generation of women doers.
Meet Adanech Admassu, filmmaker and storyteller. She is part of a group called Gem TVin Ethiopia, which brings together young independent filmmakers. They receive support and training to pursue their work from the Ethiopian Gemini Trust, a nonprofit NGO founded in 1983 to promote health, educate and welfare. Members of Gem TV make documentaries and dramas on various social topics in order to bring about behavioral change for a just and healthy society. According to the website, “These films raise awareness, educate and inspire people all over Ethiopia to change their lives for the better.” Topics include girls’ education, HIV/AIDS, female genital mutilation (FGM), safe sex, forced marriage, family planning, etc.
Adanech has this to say about where she derives inspiration:
As a woman, I share the problems that a woman faces due to her gender and other cultural influences. Through film I get a chance to address these problems and be part of the solution – and this makes me happy.
Click the picture to hear from Adanech, interviewed by the BBC after winning a prize at this year’s One World Media Awards in London. Gem TV was honored with the Special Award for its film Stolen Childhood, which focuses on forced marriage.
From the Gemini Trust website:
The Special Award, which is sponsored by the Thomson Media Foundation, recognises an outstanding project working on the ground in the developing world where media activity has made a real impact on people’s lives.
Shown in the Ethiopian parliament, their film, Stolen Childhood, was a drama-documentary which addressed early marriage and told the true-life story of how a young girl from the countryside was condemned to a life on the streets.  Its searing portrayal left the members of parliament shocked and played a role in getting new legislation passed.
Congrats to Adanech and the Gem TV team! While you’re at it, watch this brief clip Adanech made about going deep into a Gurage rural community to celebrate the holy Meskel (the Founding of the True Cross) holiday. It’s a great clip, entertaining and helps us learn more about Adanech. It’s in Amharic but has English subtitles :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Boldin_World - YouTube

Boldin_World - YouTube: ""

By Ray Frager

Anquan Boldin isn’t just spending his off-season rejuvenating his body for another year in the NFL. The Ravens wide receiver also reached across the world to help people who truly need aid.

Earlier this year, he joined former Cardinals teammate Larry Fitzgerald on a trip to Ethiopia, joining Oxfam, an international relief organization, to raise awareness of efforts to help those hit by famine and drought. Boldin recently spoke about his trip on CNN’s “World Sport.” (Thanks to for the tip.) You can watch the video below.

Asking what struck him the most about his trip to Africa, Boldin said: “Just the spirit of the people that are there. … The people still have a spirit. They smile. They’re happy for the small things in life.”

While he was in a contemplative mood, Boldin also was asked about how he feels the impact of Junior Seau’s death. “It makes you think what effects does this [playing in the NFL] have on your body long-term,” he said.

Boldin said he’s being proactive about trying to combat any lasting issues from the pounding he takes playing football, particularly when it comes to his head.

“I’m doing research myself to try to find ways to rectify brain damage,” Boldin said.

To that end, Boldin said he had been consulting with a doctor who has advised him how the use of a hyperbaric chamber – which produces greater air pressure – could protect against long-term problems to a brain whose owner has been subjected to multiple concussions.

So Boldin is using his brain to protect his brain. Would that the rest of the NFL did so.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Activists to Obama: reassess Ethiopia partnership The Associated Press:

Activists to Obama: reassess Ethiopia partnership
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Rights groups are asking President Barack Obama to re-evaluate the U.S.-Ethiopia relationship over allegations the leader of the East African nation is becoming increasingly repressive.
The requests came just before Obama on Friday announced $3 billion in private-sector pledges to help feed Africa's poor. The U.S. is a major contributor of aid to Ethiopia.
The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia and the Oakland Institute asked Obama in a Thursday letter to "reassess the terms" of U.S. aid to Ethiopia during weekend talks with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Meles is one of four African leaders invited to discuss food security at Camp David. The longtime leader has been accused of restricting freedoms and the media. Some in Ethiopia see him as a dictator.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a Wednesday letter to the White House it was concerned that Ethiopia had charged 11 independent journalists under sweeping anti-terror laws.
"Since 2011, under the guise of a counterterrorism sweep, the government of Ethiopia has brought terrorism and anti-state charges against 11 independent journalists, including blogger Eskinder Nega, who may face life in prison for his writing about the struggle for democracy," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said in the letter. "Such policies deter reporting on all sensitive topics, including food security."
CPJ called on Obama to "encourage Prime Minister Meles to end his repressive practices."
Meles was invited along with John Atta Mills of Ghana, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and Yayi Boni of Benin to represent Africa at hunger talks on the eve of a G8 summit. Meles seized control of the Horn of Africa country in a 1991 coup and has ruled longer than the combined terms of the other three.
The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia and the Oakland Institute also urged Obama to press Meles on what they say is forcible relocation of people in a government program to lease land to foreign investors.
"By continuing to provide huge amounts of aid to Ethiopia, the U.S. is in partnership with a repressive regime that puts large-scale agricultural investment and for-profit access to Ethiopia's fertile lands over the well-being and land rights of indigenous and local people," the groups said in a joint letter.
A January report by Human Rights Watch accused Ethiopia's government of forcibly resettling about 70,000 people in the country's western Gambella region.
The Ethiopian government denied the allegation, saying people are being relocated to places where there is access to secure water points, health facilities, schools, and fertile farmland.
Under Meles, Ethiopians have enjoyed relative stability and steady economic growth. But some critics say this growth has come at the expense of democracy and good governance.
The U.S. has rarely criticized Meles, a key ally in the war on terror in the Horn of Africa.
Meles has long insisted economic growth can be accomplished without practicing Western-style democracy.
"There is no direct relationship between economic growth and democracy, historically or theoretically," he told the World Economic Forum in Ethiopia last week. "I don't believe in bedtime stories, contrived arguments linking economic growth with democracy."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ethiopia charges 10 suspected al-Qaeda members [501811674] |

A Kenyan citizen was charged along with 9 Ethiopians after they were arrested last month in the southern parts of Ethiopia on allegations of "organising, providing training and educating recruits with assistance from a East Africa Al-Qaeda group".
The group were also allegedly in contact with Al-Qaeda militant cells in Kenya, Sudan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
Police recovered email exchanges between the group and the external bodies and this will be used as evidence against them.
Only four of the suspected terrorists appeared in front of the Federal High Court on Tuesday, facing 11 counts of espionage, while the others were charged in absentia.
This is the first such case to be tried in Ethiopian courts.
According to the charge filed by federal prosecutors, the defendants were involved in recruiting, training and weapons and arms possession for their activities using religion as a cover.
They are believed to have entered Ethiopia from Somalia.
The case was adjourned and will proceed Thursday.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Adanech Admassu: From vendor to film prize winner -BBC News -

Adanech Admassu, one of Ethiopia's few female film-makers, has won a prize at the One World Media Awards ceremony in London.
She took the Special Award for her film Stolen Childhood, which tells the true story of a young girl who is forced into marriage.
She says it is a fate she managed to avoid with the help of The Ethiopian Gemini Trust.
Ms Adanech, who grew up in a one-room house in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, and sold snacks on the street to help her mother, told BBC Africa's Akwasi Sarpong how she made the journey from vendor to award-winning film-maker.
For more African news from the BBC download the Africa Today podcast.

Billions of Barrels Oil found in Ogaden of Ethiopia - Businessweek

SouthWest Energy, an Ethiopian oil- exploration company, said it’s optimistic about the results of a seismic survey in the Ogaden basin and has met oil majors to discuss a possible partnership in the Horn of Africa country.
The initial findings from the survey completed in February are “very encouraging,” Chairman Tewodros Ashenafi said in an interview on May 7 in the capital, Addis Ababa. “Discovery could very well possibly happen next year.”
Infrastructure needed for production, which would start at least four years after any discovery, may cost as much as $3 billion, according to Tewodros. “That can only be done by the big boys,” he said, without providing further details.
No oil has been found in Ethiopia, which relies on exports of coffee and other agricultural commodities to generate most of its foreign-exchange earnings. The Somalia-bordering Ogaden region, where PetroTrans Co. of Hong Kong operates the Calub and Hilala fields, has 4 trillion cubic feet (113 billion cubic meters) of natural gas, said Tewodros, who is in the Ethiopian capital to attend the World Economic Forum on Africa that begins today.
Tullow Oil Plc (TLW), based in London, and Canada’s Africa Oil Corp., in March announced they struck oil in Turkana, a northern region in neighboring Kenya. The companies hired China’s BGP Inc. to survey similar terrain across the border in Ethiopia’s South Omo Block.
SouthWest, based in Addis Ababa and registered in Hong Kong, is also prospecting in Ethiopia’s southwestern Gambella region. The 17,000 square-kilometer (6,564 square-miles) concession is “exactly the same” as South Sudan’s oil-rich Muglad Basin, said Tewodros. Muglad contains an estimated 6 billion barrels of oil in place, according to a 2010 report by FirstEnergy Capital Corp. in Calgary, Canada.

Billions of Barrels

“I think two to three billion barrels of proven reserves is not something that is unreasonable” for the sites being prospected in the Ogaden, Omo and Gambella, he said.
The company has invested about $50 million in Ogaden blocks 9, 9A and 13, which cover 29,000 square kilometers, and plans to commit a further $150 million over the next three years, Tewodros said. Drilling is expected to start in the first quarter of next year, he said.
The banned Ogaden National Liberation Front has waged a 28- year campaign for self-determination in the Ogaden, which is populated mainly by ethnic Somalis. In September, the rebel fighters said they attacked a PetroTrans convoy, while the company denied the incident. In April 2007, the rebel group attacked an exploration site operated by China’s Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau, killing nine Chinese workers and 65 Ethiopians.


While security “challenges” exist, SouthWest spent 1 million man hours during eight months of surveying without “a single major accident or injury,” Tewodros said.
Oil produced in the Ogaden would probably be exported via a pipeline to the coast of Somaliland, an autonomous northern region of Somalia, which is as close as 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the blocks, he said.
Ogaden oil may be light in sulfur and “easier to refine,” while Gambella’s could be “waxy” and need chemicals “to have it flow,” according to Tewodros.
To contact the reporter on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa via Nairobi at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson in Nairobi at

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Taming Hunger in Ethiopia: The Role of Population Dynamics Laurie Mazur for the Wilson Center-New Security Beat:

Ethiopia has been deemed a population-climate “hotspot” – a place where rapid growth and a changing climate pose grave threats to food security and human well-being. 

Certainly, the landlocked East African nation faces outsized challenges. One in ten Ethiopians ischronically food insecure, and nearly one in five go hungry in drought years. With almost half its peopleunder the age of 15 and an average fertility rate of nearly five children per woman, Ethiopia’s population is the fifth fastest-growing in the world.

And climate change is hitting Ethiopia hard. Increasingly unreliable rainfall is disastrous in a country that depends heavily on rainfed agriculture. The last two decades have seen a sharp upturn in the frequency of droughts in the Horn of Africa, a deadly trend that is likely to worsen.

Given these challenges, does continued rapid population growth consign impoverished Ethiopians to chronic hunger? Some, in the spirit of Thomas Robert Malthus, would answer yes. Malthus famously argued in the 19th century that human numbers would inevitably outstrip food supply, because population grows geometrically while food supply can only increase arithmetically. Others, inspired by Ester Boserup, contend the opposite is true: population growth spurs invention that keeps supply ahead of demand.

A closer look at Ethiopia shows that neither the Malthusians nor the Boserupians quite get it right. The connections between population and food security are extraordinarily complex. Numbers matter, but so do other dynamics, such as migration and age structure. And context is paramount: the right policies are essential to encouraging – and reaping the benefits from – positive demographic trends, but those policies must be tailored to local circumstances.

Contrasts and Contradictions

Ethiopia is a land of stunning contrasts and seemingly contradictory truths.

Most Ethiopians live in brutal poverty, their per capita income among the lowest in the world. And yet, Ethiopia is one of the so-called “African lions:” its economy grew at a brisk 7.5 percent last year, more than twice the rate of emerging economies as a whole.

Ethiopia is a nation where small farmers struggle to eke out a living on tiny, degraded plots of land: in the densely populated highlands, roughly half the land is significantly eroded. Yet Ethiopia is also the target of aggressive “land grabs.” Since 2008, the government has leased or sold nearly 10 million acres of prime farmland in the less-populated lowlands to investors from China, India, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere, according to Human Rights Watch.

How do we reconcile these contrasts?

First, national averages are of limited use in a country like Ethiopia, with its diverse topography and staggering inequities. Geographically, Ethiopia’s regions are as distinct as, say, Arizona and Minnesota – and the outlook for environmental quality and food security vary accordingly. There are also huge disparities between rural and urban Ethiopians. To understand the relationship between population dynamics and food security, then, it is helpful to remember that there are many Ethiopias.

It is also helpful to set aside any preconceived notions about population and food.

Malthusians argue that population growth inevitably leads to hunger, as the resource “pie” is divided into ever smaller slices. The most obvious flaw in this theory is that technology has thus far allowed the size of the pie to increase. Another is that food and other resources are not distributed equitably; some people get much larger servings than others. The pie as a whole may be big enough for everyone, but only the slices of the poor continue to shrink.

The Malthusian narrative doesn’t fit Ethiopia, where the areas with the highest population densities are not usually the hungriest. In The Demographic Transition and Development in Africa: the Unique Case of EthiopiaCharles Teller found that “high density can either increase vulnerability or strengthen resilience,” depending on a host of other factors, including technology, infrastructure, education, urbanization, and effective implementation of population and development policy.

On the other hand, Boserupians would contend that population growth can actually diminish hunger, by forcing societies to modernize agriculture and improve productivity. But realities on the ground in Ethiopia don’t fit that narrative, either.

Tewodaj Mogues of the International Food Policy Research Institute said in an email, “The [Ethiopian] government’s various attempts at increasing agricultural intensification have not been very successful, therefore continued population growth creates substantial pressure on the land, especially in Ethiopia’s northern highlands.”

Of course, agriculture is modernizing in Ethiopia, but the benefits don’t necessarily accrue to the nation’s hungry. In the western lowlands, where land grabs are underway, tens of thousands of small farmers have been removed from their land to make way for agribusiness. According to Oxfam International, Ethiopia now supports the export of fruit, vegetables, and flowers worth $220 million a year. Those exports boost the nation’s foreign exchange, but they may also undercut the food security of poor farmers and reduce production for the domestic market. One displaced farmer told Human Rights Watch, “We want you to be clear that the government brought us here…to die....They brought us no food, they gave away our land to the foreigners so we can’t even move back.”

Beyond Malthus and Boserup

If the Malthusian and Boserupian explanations fall short, what are the root causes of hunger in Ethiopia, and how might they be addressed?

Mogues cited several “deep determinants” of hunger, including geography (for example, rugged mountainous terrain and a changing climate) and institutions (a broad term that includes the rule of law, governance, policies, investments and property rights). Many small farmers in Ethiopia lack secure land tenure, for example, which removes incentives to improve the land and discourages them from seeking employment off the farm, lest their land be taken away. The government’s ineffective aid to small farmers and concessions to agribusiness also fall under this heading.

Population dynamics matter too, especially at the household level. Mogues observed that high fertility rates affect food security in several ways:

In Ethiopia, women in rural areas play a key role in agricultural production, food purchases, non-production activities in the agriculture value chain, and in home preparation of food. Thus, high fertility rates mean that women are less able to devote time to these agricultural activities as they need to allocate more time and resources to child rearing, which has food security implications above and beyond the fact that produced or purchased food will have to be shared with household members in a larger household.
Age structures are also important. Nearly half of the Ethiopian people are “dependents” – under age 14 or over 65. This high dependency ratio diminishes productivity in agriculture and other sectors, because a lower share of the population is in the workforce.

Finally, migration – or the lack of it – plays a role. Government policies aimed at keeping ethnic groups in their home regions suppresses migration to cities and more productive rural lands. Freer migration could reduce pressure on overworked land, allow more appropriate division of labor, and energize development.

A Comprehensive Approach

How can the government and donors address the myriad causes of hunger in Ethiopia? With a “comprehensive approach to food security that includes attention to the full spectrum of population dynamics and geographic distribution,” said Charles Teller in an interview.

That means a robust safety net for the most vulnerable, integrated with ongoing programs to bolster nutrition and health. It means flexible migration policies and stronger rural-urban linkages, coupled with better planned urban development.

It also means agricultural policies that help small farmers improve their productivity, rather than displacing them. According to Ethiopian development expert Fantu Cheru, those policies can include foreign direct investment, as long as the government negotiates terms of engagement that are transparent and fair. For example, the proceeds from cash crops should be invested in improving production of staple foods through extension services, infrastructure, and better equipment for poor farmers.

And it means policies that support – and capture the benefits from – the transition to lower fertility. Thatdemographic transition could improve food security in Ethiopia by freeing up women’s time and lowering the dependency ratio. But the transition is not automatic; it requires supportive policies, such as girls’ education, employment opportunities for women, and enforcement of laws against child marriage.

Importantly, it requires access to family planning and reproductive health services. Today, just 27 percent of married Ethiopian women use modern contraception. One in four have an “unmet need” for family planning – they wish to prevent or delay pregnancy but are not using an effective method of contraception. Addressing that unmet need would have important benefits for women and their families, and it could also help fight chronic hunger.

In this land of contrasts and contradictions, the causes of food insecurity are numerous and complex. Neither Malthus nor Boserup could fully capture that complexity, but both perspectives offer insight on the limitations of current policy – and help point the way to a less hungry future.

Laurie Mazur is a consultant on population and the environment for the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program and director of the Population Justice Project.

Sources: CIA, Central Statistical Agency (Ethiopia), Food and Agriculture Organization, Human Rights Watch, Journal of Peasant Studies, MEASURE DHS, Overseas Development Institute, Population Action International, Population Reference Bureau, Rodrik (2002), Teller (2011), The Economist, The Global Mechanism, UN Population Division, U.S. Geological Survey, United Press International, World Bank.

Photo Credit: “Early morning in Lalibela,” courtesy of flickr user Dietmar Temps.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ethiopians in Stockholm Protested against Neo-Colonialism - CNN iReport

Ethiopians in Stockholm Protested against Neo-Colonialism

Ethiopians in Stockholm Protested against Neo-Colonialism

Yesterday (May 1, 2012) Ethiopians who reside in Sweden protested against land grab, the eviction of natives from their land, the imprisonments of journalists and opposition parties leaders by the ruling TPLF's regime in Ethiopia. They demand donor EU member countries and others to stop supporting dictatorial regime in Ethiopia. To date, over 200 opposition parties members and journalists including two Swedish journalists were imprisoned and charged since March 2011 under the guise of the sweeping Anti-Terror law. The Ethiopian protesters urged for immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners and journalists in Ethiopia.

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Prof. Muse Tegegne has lectured sociology Change &  Liberation  in Europe, Africa and Americas. He has obtained  Doctorat es Science from the University of Geneva.   A PhD in Developmental Studies & ND in Natural Therapies.  He wrote on the  problematic of  the Horn of  Africa extensively. He Speaks Amharic, Tigergna, Hebrew, English, French. He has a good comprehension of Arabic, Spanish and Italian.