Minority Farmers surrounding Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: ‘The Master Plan’ and Non-observance of Development Ethics By Biraanu Gammachu

Ethiopia draws two remarkable but contrasting images before global eye. On one side an oldest independent state, cradle of human civilization, location of human origin. On the other side still struggling to shove off disgraceful part of human history – poverty (underdevelopment, bad governance, negative peace) which is one of the most challenging human errors of all times.

A fall of socialist military regime in 1991 in Ethiopia ushered EPRDF (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front), a TPLF (Tigray Peoples Liberation Front) led coalition ruling party in the country. Then TPLF engineered Ethiopia’s Constitution of 1995 charted the country into 7 ethnically defined regional states (Tigray Kilil, Amhara Kilil, Afar Kilil, Oromia Kilil, Somali Kilil, Benishangul-Gumuz Kilil and Harari Kilil), 2 geographically defined regional states (Gambella Kilil and Southern Nation, Nationalities and Peoples’ Kilil) and 2 Provisional City Administrations (Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa).

First-time, the late Meles Zenawi regime has officially introduced multiparty democracy, ethnic federalism and market economy as a move to curb historic political, social and economic injustice in Ethiopia. In reality; however, two decades down the road there is still glaring facts that the frame work introduced has done much harm than good to larger population of Ethiopia than few in power. The institutionalization of ethnic politics and ill conceived ethnic federalism in Ethiopia mainly served to weaken critical dissents against the state and remained an important assurance to TPLF’s indefinite grip on the state power.

With no acknowledgment on hitherto poverty reduction efforts (especially health and infrastructural development), Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) 2014 update report, a multidimensional poverty index informed by Amartya Sen’s capability approach ranked Ethiopia second poorest country in the world. However, relentless state sponsored media and information manipulation towards public make-believe of total economic boom, social wellbeing and good political environment in Ethiopia since 1991 contrary to the country’s overbilling unemployment, income disparity, and political impasse. Though huge but less transparent infrastructural developments are being witnessed Ethiopia’s sitting regime behavior, attitude and structure of governance is continually enabling and provoking dormant conflicts between and among different sociolinguistic communities in the country, impairing collective sprit and cooperation, supplying mistrust among the population and diminishing critical citizens. International crisis group an organization which is working to prevent conflict worldwide profiled well that in various accounts the country remains structurally dangerous.

‘Addis Ababa under siege’

Located at 9°1′48″N 38°44′24″E coordinate, with year-round moderate temperature and explosive population, Addis_Ababa is a capital city and core economic geography of Ethiopia. It is the country’s home to financial hub, business transaction, industries, technocrats and main gateway to external world. Shagar, unofficial name for Addis Ababa as a diplomatic city of Africa hosts AU (African Union) headquarter and other various global, continental and regional missions’ headquarters and liaison offices. It has increasingly attracted international summits, conferences and workshops. Therefore, Addis Ababa is the most sensitive geopolitics of Ethiopia.

Placed on 54,000 ha of land, Addis Ababa is encircled by predominantly ethnic Oromo inhibited areas; Lagatafo, Sululta, Sabata, Holota and Dukam. These are minority farmers surrounding Ethiopia’s capital city. Agriculture and animal husbandry is their major economic activity. Land is at a center of their livelihoods. However, they do not have full control over their land. In Ethiopia, Land is unabatedly a property of the state. Alarmingly, they are losing their land to state-directed immoral labor-intensive agribusiness, land lease/investment and state land grab. The farmers are heavily excluded from all businesses concerning their land in the name of development. The government of Ethiopia brushes off on such grave concerns’ of the local farmers explaining it as consequential and bearable development challenge. In reality, however, the farmers are victims of ill-planned urban development.

Urbanization and urban development is a growing challenge of human phenomenon and Addis Ababa is no exception. Therefore, it is rational for government of Ethiopia to develop proper plan to address stakeholders’ political, economic, social, and environmental interest and thus ensure and set sustainable urban development on course. (please continue on page 2)

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