The Afar region has faced an unprecedented locust invasion since August this year.
AFAR, Ethiopia, October 28, 2020 – Mohammed Ali, 30, a pastoralist, is visibly tired, but relentlessly searching for pasture for his cattle under scorching sunshine. He leads over 400 head of cattle from Ewa to Asayta Woreda in the Afar region. Although pastoralists like Mohammed are accustomed to making the annual 200 km trek in January when the rains stop, they were compelled to make the journey in October – three months early.
“Desert locusts destroyed all the natural pasture including green vegetation cover. Our livestock would starve to death if we did not move,” he said.
According to Ayalew Shumet, the Afar region’s coordinator of desert locust operations, about 10 million head of livestock in the region are currently affected by the scarcity of natural pasture. Because pastoralists rely on the weather and environment to secure livestock feed for their livestock, they are heavily impacted by the damage desert locusts have caused on pasture.
Desert locusts have also destroyed entire crop fields leaving farmers, and local authorities worried. Hussein Hundolpe vividly remembers the day locusts invaded his six-hectare maize field in Afambo Woreda with sadness.
“My family and I worked hard to clear the field. I bought an irrigation pump and fuel and ensured that my maize crop received enough water. When the plants were about one meter tall, locusts devoured everything in a few hours”, he said.
Recounting the incident, Ahmed’s neighbor, Fatouma, said a large swarm covered their village’s sky.
“We threw objects at them, but nothing helped. Although the government moved swiftly to spray the swarm, the damage was already done. Every single farmer in our village lost all their maize and sorghum crop”, she said.
The Afar region has faced an unprecedented locust invasion since August this year. Despite ongoing control efforts, numerous hopper bands have caused immense damage in 33 out of 34 Woredas of the region.
“Farmers need urgent support to re-plant their crops and pastoralists require emergency feed supply otherwise, the food security in the region is at risk,” said Wogris Hafa, the Head of the Livestock, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Office of Chifra Woreda.
Ethiopia has been battling locusts since June 2019. Up to October 21, 2020, over 607 000 hectares of land had been sprayed through aerial and ground operations. Despite these efforts, the desert locust threat prevails due to cross-border movements and prevailing conducive breeding conditions in the country. Numerous immature adult groups and swarms are still moving in the Amhara/Tigray highlands and Somali region (Desert Locust situation update: 19 October 2020).
Floods exacerbate the risk
Between June and September 2020, heavy and prolonged rains led to flooding in the Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Gambella, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples (SNNP)’, Sidama, and Somali regions, affecting over one million people, with about 350 000 displaced.
In Aysaqita Woreda in the Afar region, Medina Solea recounts how floodwaters overflowing from the Awash River washed away all her household property, livestock, and crops.
“We ran to the mountains from where we were rescued by a helicopter.”
Now living in an Internally Displaced Persons Camp with her family of 10, Madina says, “We have nothing to start with.”
Although the Awash River frequently floods in August/September following heavy rains in the eastern highland and escarpment areas, this year’s flooding is unmatched, according to Aydahis Yasin, the Early Warning and Emergency Response Director, Afar Region.
“Over 46 000 hectares of cropland and 26 000 hectares of pasture in Afar were destroyed by floods, “he said.
Food security at stake
According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report, about 6.7 million people (in seven regions) are expected to be highly food insecure, in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), or worse between October and December 2020.
However, the new wave of desert locusts, exacerbated by economic hardships resulting from COVID-19 restrictions, and flooding will likely amplify food insecurity unless urgent action is taken, to assist the affected communities.
Alongside efforts to control desert locusts, FAO is implementing a programme to safeguard productive assets and livelihoods of the affected population in Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Somalia, SNNP, and Tigray regions. The Organization is supporting over 70 000 households with agricultural inputs (seeds, tools, livestock feed, and veterinary drugs), cash transfers, training, and extension support. These interventions were informed by the May-December 2020 funding Appeal of $79 million, which is now 60 percent funded.
“With the growing humanitarian needs, we require more funds to support additional households”, said Fatouma Seid, the FAO Representative in Ethiopia.
While the Oromo people’s uncertainty about their well-being and safety in Oromia is so high and the Horn of Africa as a whole is under a cloud of fears and insecurity, targeted killings of the Oromo Youths will rather aggravate the situation than calming it down. When political parties like the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) are proposing a resolution for the current crises, such an inhuman way of killing innocent citizens rather worsen the situation.
Simply putting, it’s immoral and inhuman to kill these innocent youths. It is also against the law of the land as well as international law. Whoever committed this heinous killing, OLF condemns with a strong word possible such extrajudicial killing. These youths are the hopes of our freedom and our future and nation’s fate lies in their hand.
The various massacres that recently took place in South-Eastern Oromia in Bale Robe, Eastern Oromia in Awaday and Machahara, and Western Oromia in Nekemte clearly indicate the lack of peace and security in Oromia. We believe that such murdering of the Oromia youths on street, in their homes, and basically everywhere is orchestrated by those who used to be in government structure but are an anti-Oromo struggle.
Therefore, the Oromo people and the citizens of Oromia as a whole must realize these facts and act in unity to defend themselves from such genocidal killings.
Those who are currently working in security and police forces, and military personnel born of Oromia citizens, have Oromia citizens relatives or friends, and are residing in Oromia should refrain from committing such extrajudicial killings on Oromo youth.
We call upon you to rather stand up and protect your family, relatives, friend, and the citizens with whom you live from criminals. Remember, you took an oath to protect the people and nation, but not the interest of government or politicians.
To curve the current looming crises in Oromia, the OLF has called for the establishment of the National Transitional Government of Oromia. Taking this opportunity, we would like to remind all political parties, Oromo human rights Organizations, civic institutes, Oromo professionals/elites, non-governmental and private organizations, and the overall Oromia citizens, to own your responsibilities in supporting and working toward the realization of the Oromia National Transitional Government.
Lastly, these targeted killings on Oromo youth across Oromia is being committed by those few individuals or groups within the government structure. OLF would like to reaffirm that people’s struggle for freedom, peace, and democracy will never be reversed with such inhuman action, and those who have committed and are still committing such heinous killing will never escape from accountability, be it history or legal.
This politically motivated killing and harassment of citizens in Oromia only come to an end by establishing the Oromia National transitional government that can be trusted by the people. We should strengthen our struggle in all aspects to protect ourselves and defend our nation and interest.
Extrajudicial killings and intimidations across Oromia have been taking place on Oromo youths for over two years and still, there is no glimpse of hope that this will stop. In fact, such unjustifiable killings increase the concerns and anxiety of our people about their overall safety and security.
We as people should realize these real concerns and work toward bringing an end to it by establishing Oromia National transitional government.
Victor to the masses
Oromo Liberation front
October 25, 2020
“It’s a very dangerous situation because Egypt is not going to be able to live that way. They’ll end up blowing up the dam. And I said it and I say it loud and clear — they’ll blow up that dam. And they have to do something, they should have stopped it long before it started” – Donald J. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office with leaders of Sudan and Israel on speakerphone on Friday 23rd October 2020.
For some strange reason the United States President is like a whipped man in favour of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. All through the term of Trump he has praise the man. His so positive to the Egyptian leader, that its weird. He even called him favourite dictator at a G-7 Meeting during his term. That is the sort of man Trump is and who wants to be associated with.
Al-Sisi can get whatever he wants because of his favours with the US. That is why the US President is speaking favourable of Egypt and their power. Defending their rights without respecting the Ethiopian counterparts. It is like the President has his heart in Cairo and couldn’t careless about Addis Ababa. That is why he has suspended aid to Ethiopia too over the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations.
Instead of getting all parties to negotiate and even find a middle ground. Where everyone is respected and talking about grievances. Trump wants to create war between nations over their rights of the river Nile. Where the President is initially showing his means and his support military behind Egypt.
I wouldn’t be shocked, if President Trump was neo-colonial mindset and wants the Ethiopian state to accept agreements made in colonial over the usage of river Nile. That doesn’t make sense and only would do so. Since, Trump needs al-Sisi as an ally to Nethanyahu and Israel. That is all to work for the interests of Israel, which is his major achievements in foreign affairs. If it wasn’t for that. It would be abysmal to say the least.
This is why his defending the Egyptian stance. That is why he even goes far over his mandate. Showing he has no interests to a bilateral or third-party. He could just be in bed and make out with al-Sisi. Because, he has no interest or understanding over the consequences for Ethiopia in this regard. That comes second or third for him. He rather amp up a phony war to be friendly with Cairo. Than actually talk of peace and negotiate the GERD dam and the shared water.
However, Egypt should remember that they have the United States backing them with Trump. Who knows what would happen if Biden gets into office. There might not be as shared interests or the same support. The ones in Cairo better believe there is uncertain tomorrow. What Trump did is showing blind loyalty and not considering the implications of what he did. Just like he always does and hoping someone in his team bails him out.
The Ethiopian came with a honourable stance and press release after the Trump remarks reached Addis. They are righteous in their claim. The US cannot been seen a third-party. When they are embedded with the Egyptians. It doesn’t matter what the Sudanese or Ethiopians would say. It is only the Egyptians that matters to Trump. That is clearly his politicking in this matter.
It is now proven that Trump is in the pocket of al-Sisi and their needs. That because he needs to a cordial friendship. Since that is important to his allies in Israel. This is why he ditches and disrespects the Ethiopians. That shows how lack of senses does to you and also what sort of man Trump is.
The man clearly doesn’t have any care or understanding of the matter. Only acting like a fool and hoping his allies wins. This is the sort of diplomatic dispute get taken out of proportions and doesn’t get settled. However, at this point. The US better step out the negotiation table and get another supposed “third party” in. Since, the US is the puppet of Cairo. Peace.
The US Presidency and US Foreign Policy is going bonkers. The latest move to sway Addis Ababa is just obnoxious. It is neither productive nor sincere in its action. That the United States are involved as a partisan influence on a development project and electrification of Ethiopia. They are putting in hurdles and international set-back to stop a infrastructure project from happening. This being the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Because the US wants to support their ally Egypt.
The US if it had been sincere and cared about its standing in the Horn of Africa or even with all the counterparts of the region. They would have used other means to halt aid. Which isn’t implied in the development of the GERD. However, the brilliance and the brains has left Washington DC a long time ago it seems.
Just look here:
“U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo approved plans to halt some aid to Ethiopia as part of its effort to mediate a dispute over a dam on the Nile River that’s pitted the Horn of Africa nation against Egypt and Sudan, Foreign Policy reported. The decision could affect about $130 million of assistance to programs including security, counter-terrorism and anti-human trafficking, the news website said, without saying where it got the information. The cuts won’t impact funding for emergency humanitarian relief, food assistance or health programs, it said” (David Malingha – ‘U.S. May Cut Funding to Ethiopia Over Nile Dam Dispute’ 28.08.2020, Bloomberg News).
If the Trump Administration had some balls, had some finesse and some flex. They would have halted aid for other reasons. There are plenty of mischief and misgivings in the current leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali. His whole Prosperity Party is dissolving the civic space, getting rid of activists and opposition. His using the means of extra judicial killings, political prisoners and oppress the voices of dissidents. There are enough blood, sweet and tears in the Republic.
To use the GERD just seems like the Ethiopian state is just supposed to accept treaties of colonial times. That the Republic should be bullied into submission by force. That their hand is tied, because the financial system would crack and the US support would vanish.
That is the sort of behaviour, which only shows how much love the US has for Cairo. It is really obvious that they are serving them and want to deliver for their needs. Just like when Pompeo went to Khartoum to serve Israel with a symbolic victory there.
The Trump administration thinks this is smart. It is not. Especially, that the Ethiopian side would feel the hurt. They are more alone in Addis Ababa and they do need the GERD. While they are using force against their own. Which the US doesn’t condemn or even state word of reckoning. That shows where the heart of Washington is.
They only want to serve their allies on a gold plate. While bullying others to submission. Not even have the skills to use the extra judicial killings and political prisoners as a bargain chip. That one would have not implied the relations to Cairo, but it does by doing it because of GERD.
The Trump Administration and its foreign policy is a hack-work and this is yet another one of those. It shows that they are not that knowledgable nor have the skills to prove their point. They are just like an bull in a china shop. Peace.