Cyclic famine in Ethiopia
Ethiopia, the historical land, the land where the oldest remains of mankind was found,
the country that is blessed with unique plants and animals that are not found anywhere in the would, the nation that is the
beacon of political hope for millions of Blacks and colonized people is once again exposed to the ravages of famine. It appears that once again, Ethiopia has embarked on the search for food
donors. Famine is threatening the lives of millions of Ethiopians. The government of the day is blaming the impending famine on rain failures.
In fact, all accounts suggest that the root cause of Ethiopias misery is the disastrous policies
and programs of the governments of the day.
Successive Ethiopian governments have all had their fundamental flaws exposed by the famines
that have devastated the country. In 1973, university students and the ordinary
people exposed the hidden famine in Tigrai and Wello provinces and contrasted the Emperor's total negligence of the catastrophe
with his more than ordinary concern for his pets. The situation fuelled the 1974 revolution that brought down the monarchy. In 1984, the tragedy struck again as the totalitarian military regime played havoc
with the lives of famine victims and contributed to the deaths of no less than a million people while it was busily engaged
in the importation of whiskey for its 10th anniversary. The local and international
protest generated by this callous behavior on the part of the government also contributed to the subsequent downfall of the
The present government is no different than its predecessors. Ethiopias famine situation in 2000 resembled that of 1984 during the military dictatorship. A minority governments disastrous political and economic policies, a war situation, a regime more concerned
in celebrating its party formation, or its anniversary in power, a failed agricultural policy that has alienated and hurted
most of the peasantry, a government filled with cynical officials who care little for the majority of the people and who are
feverishly trying to use the famine for their own enrichment, and millions of innocent Ethiopians once again helpless in front
of a devastating famine. The ethnic based government, which has divided the country
along ethnic lines and alienated the vast majority of the people, is once again responsible for the present famine in Ethiopia.
It is perhaps necessary at this point to deal with the question of drought, which, as
in the past, is being presented as the cause of the famine that is presently threatening the lives of no less than 15 million
Ethiopians. Ethiopia is not an arid land and every rain failure need not have to necessarily lead to a serious famine
situation. Ethiopia has a lot of arable land, and areas that have adequate annual precipitation to even produce two
crops a year. It has also major rivers and watersheds that could be tapped for
Past experiences had adequately shown the need for a disaster alert, for stocking grain
and making all the crucial preparations to combat food shortages so that unexpected rain failure should not have to lead to
starvation and famine. Drought did affect many areas but it did not have to lead
to the famine situation Ethiopia is forced to face up to now. The government is responsible for exacerbating the situation by its
wrong political and economic policies.
The tribalist regime was obsessed with the partisan development of its home region of
Tigray. While most of the areas hit by the drought, and other adjacent areas
cried for long term development, and short term preparedness, the TPLF clique was busily enriching itself, and building infrastructure
and development projects in Tigray. The ethnic regime did not care for the people
living in the other parts of the country. The government in Ethiopia needs severe
rebuke and international sanction to make it change its damaging political and economic policies. Those who want to help the
victims must not lose sight of the fact that, as much as it may try to project a different image, one of the main causes of
the famine is the existing government itself.
Presently it is reported by several media outlets that 15 million Ethiopians are affected
by famine. The current government of Ethiopia attributes the
famine to failure of rain. In fact, there were rain failures and as a result
there were intermittent famines all across the globe. But in its modern history
in the twentieth century, Ethiopia has more than its share of mainly man-made disasters. If
indeed rain failure was the main cause, then appropriate measures should be taken to avert the impending famine. Government policies and programs should be geared to the path of development by supporting the productive
sector of the society; such should have been the focus of development and famine prevention.
Ethiopia must not be perennially identified with famine. The cycle of famine
every few years have to be stopped. This could only be materialized if the government
takes some concrete and tangible steps. The ethnic regime should abolish state
monopoly of land ownership. In a country where opposing political programs cannot
compete for the peoples democratic choice, TPLFs program passes as the program of the country.
Accordingly, land is the property of the regime in power. This has denied
the millions of peasants historical attachment and sense of ownership of their piece of land.
They are prevented from maximizing their production on their land for fear of government reprisal. Indeed, the regime or its local chieftains, have come down hard on the peasants by denying them fertilizers,
or forcing them to mortgage their farm implements to pay up government debts.
The ethnic government of Ethiopia should respect basic human and democratic rights
of its citizens. It should open the doors of its prisons where it locked over
15,000 political prisoners and let the prisoners free. It should also initiate
national reconciliation with the people of Ethiopia and their lawful representatives, the opposition political parties and civic associations.
The people need help. The Ethiopian Society of Winnipeg, appeals to the international
community to help the victims of the famine and government misrule in Ethiopia.
However, such help should not be handed over to the government in power, which has a dismal record when it comes to
fairly distributing food aid, and is a well known and proven to be misappropriator of relief aid. International relief agencies should distribute the food aid directly or distribution should be done under
their strict supervision and fight against the ruling front's inevitable attempt to use certain NGOs for its swindling acts.
The Ethiopian Society of Winnipeg calls on the international
public opinion to realize the gravity of the famine situation in Ethiopia and to be mobilized to help the victims of the minority regime whose disasterous policies
are as much to blame as drought for the prevailing famine