Ethiopia: Environmental Safety in the Eyes of the Law

Without a shadow of doubt, Ethiopia is endowed with substantial environmental resources that would regain their past productivity within a shortest time possible if properly protected and coped. The environmental sustainability can be achieved through awareness creation, development and reinforcement of appropriate environmental policies and strategies.

In principle, keeping the place where human beings reside needs to be well kept tidy as it helps them bolster their health condition, make them productive and happy. This issue is even legally confirmed. For instance, Article 44 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia stipulates that "All persons have the right to a clean and healthy environment."

Since the constitution acknowledges this crucial issue and having a clean and healthy environment is a constitutional right, every citizen has to be well aware of creating an orderly environment actually via applying a number of schemes.

The aforesaid idea entails that all people living in a certain area have a full right to enjoy having a healthy environment. This right has not been infringed following the recklessness of some individuals and groups, families and community members.

The constitution also obliges the government or any responsible body to create a healthy environment for citizens stating as such, "Government shall endeavor to ensure that all Ethiopians live in a clean and healthy environment." This portrays that the government is duty bound to well supervise the health of its citizens.

Taking this concept into account, this writer approached Alemu Bayleyegn, a staff member of the previous Environmental Protection Authority, and asked him what does creating a healthy environment mean? He said, "Creating a healthy and clean environment emanates from self-initiation. If a person is keen to keep their respective environment clean, the cumulative effect undoubtedly covers the wider spectrum and helps the nation make a difference.

The problem comes here. If one is curious in managing waste in order to have a clean residence and if the other spontaneously acts reflecting the sentiment saying 'who cares,' there will be a zero sum game. For example, planting trees should be made a culture as it enables people to sustain a healthy life and need to be well nurtured and passed from generation to generation as an inheritance," said Alemu.

Ethiopia has so far faced myriad of sustainable development and environmental challenges of which sustainable management of environmental resources takes the lead.

Not only is the government responsible for protecting the environment to have a healthy society and bionetwork but it is also duty bound to raise public awareness about the significance of environmental protection. The active participation of the general public irrespective of sex, social status and age level is of predominantly useful to come up with meaningful engagement in creating a healthy environment.

According to Alemu, thanks to relentless effort of the youth and other partners, the tree plantation program in Ethiopia has been fostered and the target set of planting 5 billion trees this summer will be met within the shortest time possible. It is recurrently said that environmental protection should be the responsibility of all government organs, not only that of environmental protection agency, which has the ability to anticipate and prevent environmental damages. Having protected and well administered environment helps people in particular and the nation at large to well buttress the effort geared towards augmenting the economic, trade, energy, agricultural and other decisive sectors.

The issue of keeping the environment clean and inviting is not left only to one party be it the government or other concerned body or the society; rather it demands the collaborative effort of all. Yes, environmental protection should be well focused on as it is of expressively useful in improving the environment, provision of safe water, safe sanitation, and management public health.

If trees are planted and get prolific, air pollution, which remains one of the leading causes of multifaceted disorders can be reduced and its contribution towards poverty and abridged life expectancy is going to be diminished.

More From: Ethiopian Herald

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