30 October 2012

Ethiopia: Assessing the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Affairs Standing Committee Activities

Not only is environmental and natural resources conservation a choice but it is also a matter of life. Hence, a strategy was designed and efforts have been exerted to internationally introduce the activities undertaken in this respect.

The Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Affairs Standing Committee of the House of Peoples' Representatives Chairperson Honourable Kebede Kanchula touched upon the issue of environmental conservation and other related ideas.

A range of activities taking the strategy in rural and urban areas into consideration have been carried out. Of the major activities undertaken what they call a work of winter (yabega sira) is the predominant one which is practiced amongst the farming community.

As far as the pastoral community is concerned, said Kebede, since the way of life they are leading differs from that of the farming community, activities undertaken in that regard target towards addressing the fundamental problems.

It is obvious that the pastoral community relies on cattle raising. They have also led a mobile life. But the farm land around the pastoral community is very fertile and it is very suitable for agriculture. The pastoral areas do have not only surface water but it has also ground water. So, it could be possible to provide the pastoral community with stable life style as it would be possible to find water and fodder for the cattle at their places. The federal government in collaboration with sates is doing its level best to help the pastoral community have stable life through employing irrigation possibilities.

When we talk about the development aspect around pastoral areas, there should be feasibility study or impact assessment to single out the impacts of these projects on natural resources. For example, in Afar State, there is huge sugar development project constructed by the federal government. There is also huge dam---the Tendaho Dam. Basically, when a certain project is planned an environmental impact assessment is carried out before commencing the project.

The study or the impact assessment is done not only by a body implementing the project but also by other partners. Hence, the way to proceed the project would be workable. And the outcome of the project and its impact on the natural resources and environment is well known and the way how to protect the impact, if any, is worked out hand in hand with the project.

The standing committee again supervises, follows up and assures activities and studies particularly those designed to tackle the problem. It also closely investigates to what extent a number of activities are undertaken to abate impacts. Based on this approach, the standing committee visited what is happening in Afar and Bensghangul Gumuz in person. The standing committee is working with stakeholders and other implementing bodies to find lasting solutions to the problems through rectifying the potential areas.

The green economy development

The green economy development is a strategy designed to nurture environment at national level in 30 October 2012 (Hidar 8). But this doesn't mean that, said Kebede, we have never done anything in this regard before that. There were a number of activities consumed labor force estimated to millions of Ethiopian birr. Biological works are done in summer (Kiremt in Ethiopia). For instance, tree seedlings taking the environmental situation into account have been transplanted. It is known that carrying out environmental impact assessment is not an easy task as there are a number o complicated and scientific issues in it. Apart from this, the standing committee along with the concerned body is working to raise public awareness in this regard. The awareness campaign comprises issues: what is environmental conservation? What is green economy? What is the economy with unwavering foundation for climate change? Raising this and other related important issues, various public sector offices are playing their part to this end. The issue of environmental conservation is not the issue of one or two bodies as it knocks everyone's door. It is rather called a cross-cutting issue. It is not the activity undertaken by the Ethiopian Environmental Protection Authority but it calls upon every government or private sector. The Ethiopian Environmental Protection Authority has been appointing other offices as representative and bodies to implementing activities. For example, the Ministry of Agriculture does have its own share. There is also another dimension to be given to the ministry of Health. Water resources development also acts accordingly. Generally, every sector office does have their duties and responsibilities related with the area of engagement and specialization. According to the chairman of the standing committee, environmental conservation is not only the responsibility of every individual but it is also every country. All countries are interlinked.

For instance, if Ethiopia conserves its environment well and other its neighbours fall to do so, their problem affects Ethiopia. Thus, neighbouring countries should, are duty-bound to, preserve their respective environments. It is on this ground that Ethiopia is said potential state to produce renewable energy which is environment-friendly energy. And it is capable of meeting local demand as well as that of neighbouring counties. Ethiopia, said Kebde, has been intensively carrying out a range of crucial activities advocating green economy doing the aforesaid and other related environment friendly engagements.

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