19 October 2017

Ethiopia: Green Growth Program for Sustainability

Poor environmental conservation has caused huge difficulties on the lives of many of the world's population. Drought and hurricane, among others are the major threats posed on the globe, a result of negligence of the environment.

However, the international community has started to give due attention to the critical issue of environmental conservation. The world leaders have also put their signature in Paris in an agreement to play their own role in conserving the environment through reducing carbon emission and subsidizing the third world countries that suffered the most as a result of global warming.

Ethiopia has been one of the developing countries to be repeatedly affected by severe drought for a long period of time. Since recently, the country has been providing food and non-food assistance to its peoples affected by the El-Nino induced drought using internal capacity with a budget of about 200 million USD. The government, in order to raise enough finance, was forced to transfer fund from the budget initially proposed to other development projects. Therefore, as a country that has been highly affected by climate change, a green growth strategy is not just a matter of choice but is mandatory.

As a country that ratifies the Paris Agreement (COP 21) and repeatedly affected by climate change, Ethiopia has been striving to prevent drought through increasing its forest coverage. Accordingly, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MEFCC) is making its level best in supporting the national endeavor to build green economy that could withstand the impacts of climate change.

Over the past five years alone, various seedlings were planted under the patron of the ministry. It also coordinates efforts to cultivate and nurture seedlings during the dry season. Consequently, the ministry achieved to full-grow 67 percent of the seedlings planted in the 2008 EC, says State Minister Kebede Yimam. The greenery program is vital to prevent soil erosion. It also supports the initiative to expand irrigation and increase agricultural productivity. Ethiopia's effort is also significant to the neighboring countries as its highlands are major source of water for the region and beyond.

Planting seedlings is not the only activity of the reforestation program. Nurturing and protection are also its critical parts. The increment of forest coverage is helpful to have stable rainfall and achieve increased agricultural productivity. The success of the agricultural sector is also central to achieving the industrialization ambition of the country by supplying ample raw materials.

Currently various seedling plantation programs are taking place in rural areas. Farmers are actively engaged in supporting the effort to increase the forest coverage to 20 percent as stated in the Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II). This summer alone, the ministry together with stakeholders has planted 3.5 billion seedlings. It has also set to enhance this effort in various urban areas of the country.

Today various stakeholders are raising hands to assist the green growth program by providing essential supports of various kinds. For instance, the Ethiopian Environment Forest Conservation Institution is supplying hybrid seedlings, pesticides, and other technologies for the achievement of the green growth program. This year, it has provided over 58 technologies that highly support the program.

Ethiopia has a wide range of biodiversity including various flora and fauna. Increasing the coverage of forest is crucial to create healthy environment the sustainability of the biodiversity. There are two basic factors that pose threat to biodiversity. These are failures to protect and conserve the environment locally and environmental pollution globally. "If we fail to accomplish this program, we would put our biodiversity in danger of extinction," Dereje Taye, Institute Public Relation Officer tells The Ethiopian Herald. The institute is working by giving special attention to the three Es which are economic, endangered and endemic biodiversity protection.

As to him, the country's green growth program is very suitable for environmental protection. Ethiopia has plenty of renewable energy sources that would enable the country to build pollution-free economy. And this is important to conserve biodiversity and sustain the national development. He mentions that the country is producing a wide range of energy from geothermal, hydroelectric power and wind to meet the demands of its growing industries. "Shortly, we are building our economy on a sustainable and basic foundation," he emphasizes.

The reforestation program enables the country to prevent climate change impacts and side by side increase input for the construction sector and improve agricultural productivity. Moreover, it would enhance the nation's resilient economy program mainly through balancing the climate condition and prolong the lifetime of hydroelectric dams by protecting them from siltation, the State Minister notes.

While rescuing its forest coverage, the country has faced various problems including illegal settlement, expansion of farmland and wild fire among others. The ministry is highly committed and working to enable the country to get incentive and profit from the climate resilient economy building projects, Kebede says.

Today the country's green growth program is successful as it improved the forest coverage from three to 15 percent. The country also rescued large hectares of land of forest from deforestation. Here, the effort made by the ministry, in collaboration with Oromia Forest and wildlife Enterprise and Farm Africa could be mentioned as a model.

The Bale REED plus project develops 20,000 hectares of land forest under its forestry program and could be able rescue 12,500 hectare land from deforestation. This helped to reduce heat and greenhouse emission and to increase water flow and agricultural productivity in the area, Project Forestry and Natural Resource Management Head Dr. Mulugeta Lemenih says.

Accordingly, the project enabled the country to reduce 5.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emission. This would help build a positive image for the country in the international arena for implementing the COP 21 agreement by reducing carbon release. "We are set benefit from the achievement in reducing carbon emission. We would get incentives for extra greenery projects that the country is going to implement." As to him, the project enabled the country to achieve 62 percent reduction of greenhouse which could worth 18 to 28 million dollars at the global carbon market.

Ethiopia could receive incentives from the developed world and generate profit from the reduced carbon emission. But this needs all stakeholders' strong commitment to rescue the wide range of forests.

Moreover, it would enhance the nation's climate resilient economy. Expanding such programs is critical to protect the existing forests from deforestation side by side to the reforestation program. Today, the country is advocating green growth at local and international level. It is also praised globally for keeping its promises. This week, the Global Green Growth Conference is taking place here in Addis.

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