By Staff Writer
Several decades back, about 40 per cent of the landmass of Ethiopia was reportedly covered by natural forest. Excessive dependence on bio-fuel for generating energy at household level, alarming deforestation and land clearing for agriculture, climate change induced drought and run off from the highlands of the country leading to degraded lands, over grazing by livestock all led to unprecedented densification and loss of natural flora and fauna of the country. As one of the poorest countries that depended on bio-fuel resources while not producing none of it, Ethiopia was plunged into a vicious circle of poverty failing to feed its population and remained dependent on foreign food aid. Despite her endowment with multiple sets of natural resource Ethiopia failed to use and enjoy the natural gifts provided to the country by nature lot of water has passed under the bridge since those days with further deterioration of the natural vegetation of the country.
However, the formulation of Climate Change Resilient Green Economy Policy of Ethiopia and the ground breaking ceremony on the construction of GERD brought a gigantic change in the development policy of the country setting example for Africa and the rest of the world which is experiencing accelerated levels of global warming. And the country had launched a large scale forestation campaign across the nation with a view to help accelerate the nation’s green economic development by protecting the natural environment of the country and ensure food self-sufficiency. Particularly, the plant seedling activities carried out over the past three years was remarkable in all standards in achieving the aforementioned goals.
In an exclusive interview with ENA, Getachew Gizaw, Deputy Chairman of the National Green Legacy Initiative Coordinating Committee and water expert at the Ministry of Water and Energy said “Since 2019, according to the theme of planting 40 seedlings per head,4.9 billion trees were planted. In 2020 5.7 billion trees were planted and the theme of planting and caring for the trees. In 2021, 6.7 billion trees were planted across the country with the theme of Beautifying Ethiopia”
He noted that the Green Legacy Initiative renders immense contributions to the natural water resource and soil fertility of the country. He added, the initiative contributes to “promotion of soil conservation, promoting the increase in surface and ground water and would help to regulate the amount of water in various hydropower dams in the country. The initiative is of critical importance for reducing the challenges of drought and would help to strengthen watershed management around the catchment areas of river basins.
Mentioning the importance of collectively approach for caring for water resources from pollution he noted that “ the benefits that Sudan and Egypt can get from water resources of the Blue Nile depends upon their shared responsibility in supporting the initiative to increase, ensure the purity of the water and also its sustained utilization. Ethiopia expects that Sudan and Egypt should participate in ascertaining the regular flow of the Blue Nile through their support by technology, knowledge, finance and human power as they have a substantial share in the utilization of the water from the Blue Nile.”
Getachew noted that as water is perishable, it is important to engage in effective cooperation in conserving such an important source which effectively dissects through all sectors of the economic development of each country that is crossed by the Blue Nile. He mentioned that it is important to cooperate in the entire water development cycle right from the source up to its final destination.
Known as the water tower of Africa, Getachew said that Ethiopia has 12 river basins that bisect through the highlands and lowlands of the country. “ Quite a number of these rivers basins are transboundary rivers and that some of them cruise through various regions of the country. For instance, the Awash River flows through Oromia, Afar and touches upon Amhara Region in Wollo, Somali Ethiopia Region, Dire Dawa, Addis Ababa and SNNPR.”
Water experts stressed that rivers, specially transboundary rivers like the Blue Nile connect the neighboring countries and are natural catalysts to promote people to people friendship and are also useful for joint development ventures with nearby countries. He stated that the Blue Nile must not be taken as a threat or a point of confrontation but must be used in an equitable manner to promote mutual cooperation for joint development.
As third round of filling GERD is just at the corner, Ethiopia again calls upon Sudan and Egypt to realize the importance of cooperation in collectively nurturing the sources of the Blue Nile and in helping to maximize the utilization of the GERD as a major sources of hydropower for promoting renewable energy resources across Africa. Confrontation must necessarily be replaced by joint cooperation between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. Ethiopia has set an important campaign in the Green Legacy Initiative and other African countries can enjoy the benefit of launching such an initiative in their respective countries.
It must be noted that the National Green Legacy Initiative is part of the global effort against global warming and creation of carbon free world. As Ethiopia is one of the 20 most vulnerable countries to being affected by the adverse effects of climate change, the world should support the countries efforts as the nation continues to implement Climate Change Resilient Green Economy Policy and Strategy over the next years of Home Grown National Economic Plan. The positive effects of the National Green Legacy Initiative is now visible but there is more to be desired in the future.
The Fourth Round Green Legacy Campaign was officially launched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in the presence of diplomats, African Union Commissioner Musa Faki Mahamat, and senior government officials at Gulele Botanical Garden here in Addis Ababa. More efforts would again be exerted to promoting the Green Legacy Initiative in the Horn of Africa.
This year as in the past, billions of agro-forestry trees including various types of fruit trees are expected to be planted on various agro-ecological terrains across the country. Getachew also noted that the National Green Legacy Initiative is a unique type of investment in which huge amount of fund is expended to raise seedlings in various nurseries across the country. He said the minimum cost for a single tree seedling is about Birr 25-30 and fruit tree seedlings could cost about Birr 100 or even more for special fruit seedlings.
Therefore, Egypt and Sudan have to understand the fact that Ethiopia’s Green Legacy is vital to boosting their water resources in addition to the other critical advantages in mitigating flooding and sedimentation among other things and demonstrate their willingness to be part of the initiative.