Environment and sustainable development an Ethiopian perspective

America-Ethiopia-Court and Law of Reason

Posted by 4kilo on April 6, 2007

Below is a paper presented by professor Mesfin Woldemariam as part of a series of discussions, Vision 2020, organized by Ethiopian Economic Association held November 2003.Remember ,this script is written way before May 2005 election and before the existence of CUD! .Part of it is read as follows

”…….The principles that enjoyed universal respect in the preceding century(Gregorian calendar) are now being violated.The sovereignty of states has now become something contingent upon the consent of superpowers.We are all familiar with what happened in Yugoslavia,Afghanistan and Iraq in this regard.The threats directed to North Korea and Iran as well as against Syria by America and the consequent climate of uncertainty are an indication of superpower dominance.The American demand to replace an elected leader is now followed by Al Qa’ida.Looking at the state of affairs today,mass slaughter of human beings and the destruction of property and development of infrastructures have become the standard practice and a matter of right not only for the powerful but also for the weak.Moral rectitude has reached the bottom in the realm of the spiritual,let alone in the secular sphere.The time is such that people are ready and willing to sell not only their bodies but also their souls.Human dignity and honor have no longer any value.This is how the world we live in today appears to me.And it is in such a world that we[Ethiopians]live in utter destitution and helplessness.

Although the general climate in the world we live in appears to be unfavorable to oppressive regimes,the superpowers,nevertheless,show tendency to use oppressive regimes as instruments of their interest and policy.As far as terrorism is concerned the principal problem of the Western powers is their failure to comprehend that terrorism is a consequence of western relations with oppressive regimes.As long as oppressive regimes continue to exist and peaceful political struggles are suppressed,there will always be rebellion and terrorism.It is,consequently,inevitable that the target of rebellion and terrorism will be the destruction not only the oppressive regimes but also the powers behind them.I do not believe there is any other reason than this for America to be targeted as an enemy by terrorists.In spite of the fact that the American ideals of freedom,democracy ,justice and property rights are of great benefit to all humanity,the American government has not demonstrated unshakable faith in them and made them instruments of its foreign policy.On the contrary,the American government,for various reasons,becomes the supporter and defender of oppressive regimes.I think that is the problem.

”………….If we were guided in our efforts by the law of reason,we would not have found it difficult to understand that the empowerment of the people,or what we call democracy,is crucial to any kind of growth and development.The stifled physical,mental and spiritual potential will be released only when the people are liberated and become a sovereign power with confidence in themselves and in the law;it is only then that they can become true agents of their own lives.The repressive and stifling influences on the Confederation of Ethiopian Labour Union,The Ethiopian Teacher Association,The Ethiopian Free Journalist Association,and on the urban dwellers associations and peasant associations will not help the development of democracy in Ethiopia.Democracy can be established and cherished only by citizens who have confidence in themselves and in the law,and where all the struggle for power will be peaceful and in accordance with law,without intimidation.In addition the benefit of democracy is that each citizen and the people as a whole will assume responsibility for their own lives and for the progress of the country.People in a state of subjugation have neither freedom nor responsibility.


I think there are people who believe that the issue of the people’s sovereignty and that of the supremacy of the law,which will save coming generations from poverty,famine,war and self-annihilation,will be favorably resolved in the coming election(2005).I align myself with such people,whether in terms of wishes or aspirations.However.I still have my doubts. Twelve years earlier,i had ,when i think of it now,rather naively said something:if the weyyane group were to run in the elections then and were to win legitimately,I would have had no problem;if,however,it did not win,then it would have at least opened a new chapter for a democratic Ethiopia and give itself another chance at the next round of elections.But this wish of mine,on second thought,reminds me of the proverbial peasant who went looking for the dung where no cattle were supposed to go grazing.”

I will invite you to read the rest of this paper.


Posted in Politics | Leave a Comment »

How to Blog Safely

Posted by 4kilo on April 4, 2007

By Ethan Zuckerman

This is a quick technical guide to anonymous blogging that tries to approach the
problem from the angle of a government whistleblower in a country with a lessthan-
transparent government. It’s not intended for cypherpunks, but for people
in developing nations who are worried about their safety and want to take practical steps
to protect their privacy.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s guide, “How to Blog Safely”
(http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Anonymity/blog-anonymously.php), also offers some very
good advice on this.Read here more via. global voices from reporters without borders

Posted in Books | Leave a Comment »

Jeffrey Sachs

Posted by 4kilo on April 3, 2007

there is always one thing i envy about American scholars,engineers,economists,sociologists etc if they came up with some sort of design,philosophy or some other theory they always have a chance to give it a try.With huge American wealth in the backing their decisions or recommendation, at U N’s different organization or world bank ,always gets implemented whether it is the best available option or not. When they get it right nothing will stop them they will do it in such degree comparable to none but when they get it wrong lots of money and time gets lost.As so many of them are successful they have contributed a lot in building superpower nation but there are few which do otherwise.

Jeffrey Sachs is one of those American scholars who is wasting money supporting African dictators giving them moral support as he beliefs or at least doesn’t care about democracy or human right ,when it comes to his ‘development’ theories.His favorite leaders in Africa are well in known in suppressing their own people.Being a special advisior to UN’s secretary general Ban Ki Moon ,Africa is now his lab for his poverty reduction theories which is already going no where.Yesterday via meskel square he was taking about stepping up “targeted investments” and so it continues …”The key, in my view…is a mass of scaling up of targeted investments in key sectors of each of your economies,” by stepping up targeted investment to dictators & Co. companies in Africa he thinks poverty will be reduced and because in his theories democracy is a secondary thing the masses will have no say on how this billions flowing into Africa will be utilized.He expects the masses to keep quiet till their oppressors had enough.No one ever doubts his academic credentials ,however putting into practice them specially in Africa is not like proving your academic theories to bunch of students Columbia university.I don’t why in the first place democracy was not at the center of his theories.Here is book review from washington post


”But that’s too neat. What about the World Bank studies in Guinea, Cameroon, Uganda and Tanzania, which estimated that 30 to 70 percent of government drugs disappeared into the black market rather than reaching the patients? Sachs calls for huge increases in aid to his favorite countries, like Malawi and Ethiopia, overlooking inconvenient factors such as the worsening of Malawi’s famine because corrupt officials sold off its strategic grain reserves and because autocratic Ethiopian rulers have favored their own minority Tigrean ethnic group. Sachs is right that bad government is not disproportionately an African problem; democracy has been making progress in Africa, while rulers in Azerbaijan, Cambodia and Turkmenistan make some African autocrats look like Thomas Jefferson. But Sachs’s anti-poverty prescriptions rest heavily on the kindness of some pretty dysfunctional regimes, not to mention the famously inefficient international aid bureaucracy”…..Washingtonpost.com

Posted in Development | 3 Comments »

Green Building and construction

Posted by 4kilo on April 1, 2007

What Makes a Building Green?

A green building, also known as a sustainable building, is a structure that is designed, built, renovated, operated, or reused in an ecological and resource-efficient manner. Green buildings are designed to meet certain objectives such as protecting occupant health; improving employee productivity; using energy, water, and other resources more efficiently; and reducing the overall impact to the environment.Read here more

Kazanchis area
view from kokeb resturant

Lots of construction is under going in addis ababa today.Most of them are medium seized buildings of different kinds:office complex,shopping mall,apartments and Hotels.Nearly all of these buildings are constructed by demolishing existing relatively small dwelling houses,commercial outlets along main roads of the city.It is good thing to see this construction is happening in a city of millions where once called a big village.Being a civil engineer myself and in fact participated in some of the buildings as a designer there are lots of constraints behind this constructions which involves the government,contractors , consultants and investors.

The Government

Unfortunately the lease price each investor is paying for plot of land is very expensive. Investors otherwise could have used it to build better building.Buildings are not by themselves an end but basis for other investments.It seems the government is using it as a primary income means.This has to be changed for long term benefit of the city.

The Investors

Instead of copying the building type right beside them they should give a chance to their architects to give them something new.have you noticed those building along Bole road? they all are the same,box shape with similar glass frame with slight difference in colour.Look those buildings built years ago how they become the city’s icon,the commercial bank building near national theater,the A.A city administration building ….

Contractors and Consultants

The construction industry clearly has a lot to learn, specially finishing works and construction time.Consultants or designers should be in a position to influence their customer in a way they can be able to produce a design which really could become an integral part of the city instead of reproducing the same design again and again.

a collective effort of all these stake holders could result a good and unique buildings the city deserves.

When coming to the already changing climate of addis the environment should be given priority.It is time to enforce Green building design and construction standards.Architects and engineers should make themselves ready for green design and construction.The government should make ready the required codes and standards and enforce them to build an environmental friendly city.

Read here checklist for green building and construction and also here for Green building basics

Posted in Technology | 2 Comments »

Using the waters of Abay(Blue Nile)

Posted by 4kilo on March 31, 2007

Ethiopia is a country with many natural resources …. and yet the country is one of the poorest nation on earth! people are still dying out of hungry.A number of social ,political and economical problems can be attributed to this effect.Miss use of it’s natural resources is the root cause of it’s present day problems.Unable to use its natural resources the country is heading to the worst,starvation year after year.Using it’s water resources will at least alleviate problems related to food shortage if not all.The river Abay(Blue Nile) holds the key in this regard.Ethiopia Must use its rivers to get out of this shame.The downstream countries should face this fact.The countries internal problems together with the prevailing geo-political condition of eastern Africa has been Ethiopians biggest challenge to use its water resources.The unfair usage of the Abay river by only few downstream countries notably Egypt has exacerbated the problem even more.Equitable use of Nile waters is a distant future.The so called Nile basin initiative is basically, designed by Egypt and its allies, United states of America,world bank …. to maintain the status quo.No one ever doubts the importance of Nile to the peoples of Egypt, however one also should note the importance of it to Ethiopians.The last two or so wars with Egypt over Nile waters was ended with Ethiopians victory but now Ethiopia is in no shape for war. You can read here the background up to the Nile basin Initiative.In the Nile basin initiative Ethiopia is destined to be land for Hydro power generation and sale the power back to its neighbors and Egypt will still continue using the water as before.This will not bring sustainable development only prolongs the problem for a while.The only way out is when all the Nile basin countries work together ,however not as Nile basin Initiative where only certain group is beneficiary.The predicted war (UN report) in this region over the waters of Nile even after the Nile basin initiative confirms the need for real dialog among the stake holders

Ethiopians should also work hard and create awareness what really Abay holds for the country development.We should be able to tell fellow Ethiopians using the waters of Abay means using hundereds if not thousands of tributaries from the northern tip of the country :Tekeze and its tributary,Abay and Tana,Fincha & Dedissa,Baro to southern west corner.This also means developing highly populated parts of the country Tigray,Gondor,Gojam,Wollega,Illubabur,Gambella….

The previous Ethiopian governments efforts to utilize this resource specially by the Dergu regime after the 1984 drought should be realized.

Posted in Environment | Leave a Comment »

Latest Addis pics

Posted by 4kilo on March 25, 2007

to those of you who miss Addis, and it’s new looks i got new pictures help yourself more will come soon……

checkout my flicker page here

Posted in Other | 4 Comments »

Global Heating and/or Global Warming!

Posted by 4kilo on March 9, 2007

according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Global warming is the observed increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s near-surface air and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation.

I found the word ‘Global warming’ a bit vague and it only describes the situation on west were the temperature is normally cold and warming could mean mild temperature people could enjoy.On the contrary people who live in Africa and other part of the world the effect of ‘Global warming’ is an increase in temperature that would normally represent hot or hotter to hotter or hottest situation.This practically mean heating not warming.I personally believe representing this global climatic condition with a word ‘Global warming’ may have stolen some voices in the fight against ‘Global warming’.I think we need a word that precisely describes what ‘Global warming’ is really meant for!

Posted in Environment | Leave a Comment »

Baro and Karadobi Hydropower projects

Posted by 4kilo on February 16, 2007

The Baro and Karadobi hydropower projects have been identified by Nile Basin Initiative as potential source of income and improvement in the region in several areas and create win win situation for the counties involved. In addition to sale and export of the electricity, the Baro and
Karadobi projects are expected to provide improvements downstream with regards to flooding, siltation, irrigation and water conservation. The objective of this project is to undertake feasibility study of Baro and pre-feasibility study of Karadobi hydropower projects.
The Baro Hydropower Project on Baro River includes two dams of 30 and 80 m height; two underground hydropower stations with installed capacity of totally 660 MW; and totally 20km tunnels for waterways and access. The project is a multipurpose project and comprises flood control as well as evaluation of irrigation potentials.

The Karadobi Hydropower Project on the Abay River (Blue Nile), comprise an up to 250 m high dam; a hydropower station with planned installed capacity of 1000-1600 MW. The project is a multipurpose project and includes flood control, irrigation, and navigation potential on the Nile in Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt

NORPLAN has been engaged as the Main Project Consultant with an overall
responsibility towards the Client for the project. Main responsibilities are:

• Geological and geotechnical field investigation
• Assessment and analysis of benefits of multipurpose use of water downstream
• Environmental impact assessment of the project
• Assessment and analysis of economic and financial viability of the project
• Project planning and scheduling
• Procurement
• Meetings and workshops
• Training of personnel from the Ministry of water resources
• Cost control

source: www.norplan.com

Posted in Other | 1 Comment »

Humans to blame for Global warming!

Posted by 4kilo on February 3, 2007

well known group of scientists has for the first time agreed upon on who is responsible for the cause of global warming.

Posted in Environment | Leave a Comment »

Wutet Tekor!

Posted by 4kilo on January 30, 2007

Wutet tekor (performance based management)

Today in Ethiopia wutet tekor performance based management(i am not sure for the translation),is a common word among government employee in nearly all public utility’s. It is kind of management theory the Ethiopian government is fall in love.However,on the other hand nearly all the worker’s supposedly to benefit from it, are against it.In all workshops or seminar’s held to convince the workers,officials faced fears opposition.Unfortunately they didn’t listen and i am not surprised,it is for the simple reason that they are ordered to do so.I don’t know how far these people are planning to implement by force what they think is ‘the only management theory for the countries development’ but i am sure it is a complete failure.It has in fact already failed.I personally believe it has failed due to the following reasons among others,

1.the workers supposedly to benefit from it,have opposed it from the start and no one asks why or is willing to listen and make arrangements may be bring another management theory

2.those people who brought this idea have little or no knowledge of the countries working conditions and personalities.Clearly people would like to get as much as their effort,off course with few exceptions but the fact on the ground doesn’t allow you to compete it will only allow you fight between workers to do specific job.I remember in one of organization i was working with, the number of workers needed on that specific section was three but there were 27 people! their job doesn’t require big skill, they were only recording incoming and outgoing letters.For which of these three people shall the work be assigned? what about the others? here comes the problem! now employee has to beg or even bribe to their closest boss to be assigned to do that job because it is the only way for promotion.To be honest most of government offices are more like charity organization where elder men and women in the name of ‘working’ get paid.The number of employee and the amount of job is not compatible,people hired or transferred to by somebody who want them to be there one way or the other way regardless of the amount of work actually existed.This is to show you just tip of the problem.I can give you another example, EEPCo one of Ethiopia’s biggest stated owned power corporation has a total number of employee close to 9000 may be more yet the company runs a total installed capacity of 700Mw let’s now compare it with one Europe power company,Statkraft which runs an installed capacity of more than 28,000Mw employe’s a total of 2000 professionals! here i realize the difference we have but just look the difference(40 times).Are they using wutet tekor? certainly not! The key here is for skilled person with his/her equipment or machinery(if any) it is known that standard amount of job will executed.In this case the system as whole is evaluated not only the person.Let’s put processionals in their respective position and evaluate the system as whole! for one professional it is well known how much it delivers for specific job.

3.It may work for some service providing small enterprises like what the government claims as successful in in capital .But this doesn’t mean it will work for government organization and services.Hence it is important to treat each kind of services and products separately.

There is still good chance to make things right,drop this wutet tekor! and don’t impose by force this obsolete management theory.

Posted in Society | 1 Comment »