Daily Archives: March 21, 2020

Coronavirus Hits Somalia’s Khat Sellers

The new coronavirus has woven itself into the daily lives of Somalis’ pocketbooks, hitting small businesses, including sellers of the herbal stimulant khat.
 
Khat, the red-stemmed, green-leafed plant that is chewed for its amphetamine-like properties, is grown in Kenya and Ethiopia but is very popular in Somalia, Djibouti and Yemen.

On Thursday, Somalia banned all international flights, including those carrying khat, for 15 days, as a part of measures the country has taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
 
The normally bustling market in Mogadishu known as Beertakhat, which translates into khat farm, has been practically deserted because of the suspended flights.
Hundreds if not thousands of Somalis who directly or indirectly depended on the khat business could be affected by the decision.

Despite its popularity, khat markets have always been fragile because there are no stockpiles available. Traditionally, it has to be sold fresh.

A mother’s income

One khat seller in Mogadishu, Faadumo Abdurahman, told VOA Somali that her family’s livelihood had been jeopardized because of the flight stoppage, which she said had come without warning.

“Vending khat was the only way I managed to feed my children. Therefore, this decision came at a time I was not prepared for,” she said.
 
“One side, the suspension of khat flights would hit us hard economically. On the other hand, I see the decision as temporary and lifesaving,” said liban Mohamed Isse, a spokesman for khat traders.

Not only Somali traders and consumers but also growers of khat in Kenya, where it is called “miraa” and nicknamed “green gold,” are feeling the economic effects of the coronavirus.

Normally, more than 15 cargo flights of khat arrive in Mogadishu and other major cities in the country every day from Kenya. Somali anti-khat activist Abukar Awale said the crop is worth $840 million a year.
 
“In research we have done only on the khat that is air transported into Somalia, at its peak, we have recorded 35 cargo flights, carrying about 95,000 bags of khat a day, which have a total retail value of $400,000,” Awale said.

Source: Voice Of America

Bold Standpoint Crucial to Ensure Fair Utilization of Nile River: Scholars

Addis Ababa: Ethiopians need to have a bold stance for fair and equitable utilization of the shared water resources of Nile River in their move to overcome poverty, scholars said.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, President of Addis Ababa University Professor Tasew Woldehan said Ethiopians are in need of electricity.

Researchers have proved that Ethiopia’s electricity demand is growing by 25 percent every year but the country has wide gap behind its much-needed power supply.

So, the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is a principal development project of Ethiopia to showcase its overwhelming efforts to combat poverty through electricity production from its water resources, he said.  

According to Professor Tasew, Ethiopia can not meet this huge demand without pursuing economic growth and industrial development using its intact resources. 

He noted that Egypt is tarnished for its sneaky and adamant stand on Nile River blowing hot and cold while it is creating perturbs on the process of the tripartite negotiation which was began in ‘good faith’ of Ethiopia and Sudan.

“We have to boldly show to the rest of the world that Ethiopians are committed to utilize our resources so as to overcome poverty,” Professor Tasew underlined.

“So, Ethiopians have to be stand together on the issue of GERD regardless of our differences,” he added.

President of Kotebe Metropolitan University, Doctor Brhanemeskel Tena said for his part that efforts which have been undertaken by the government to cut back the recent pressures from various parties are encouraging though it remains a lot.

He stated that Egypt is cracking to pressurize Ethiopia and trying to block every spot that can lead to a fair and equitable use of Nile waters.

“The recent move by Egyptian government is based on their gluttony interest. There is no legal or natural back ground to deny Ethiopia as the origin of Blue Nile or Abbay,” he stressed.

“So, if all Ethiopians all over the world could stand together, we can achieve what we want. This is not an issue of one party or two. This is a national issue”.

Brhanemeskel noted that along the government and the diplomatic community, Universities and other educational institutions have the responsibility to make the international community conscious the reality by and large the enigmatic policy of Egypt towards unfair Nile waters use.

Ethiopia temporarily suspended its participation in the U.S.-mediated negotiations over the filling and operation of the GERD demanding for fair negotiations.

In 2015, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt agreed on a Declaration of Principles that stipulated an “equitable and reasonable” utilization of the Nile that will not cause “significant harm” to other riparian countries. Source: Ethiopia News agency

FAO Grants Aircraft Sprayer to Boost Ethiopia’s Fight against Desert Locusts

Addis Ababa: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) handed over today an additional sprayer and information collector aircraft to enhance Ethiopia’s fight against the spread of locust.

Fatouma D. Seid, FAO Country Representative to Ethiopia said that the aircraft will help intensify aerial and ground locust control efforts.

The donation raised the total aircrafts delivered to Ethiopia to two, she said adding that FAO will also provide three additional aircrafts on the top of vehicles, and motor cycles to improve the desert locust control efforts.

Minister of Agriculture, Ummer Hussien commended FAO for its response to the desert locust risk that is damaging crops, animals fodder and plants in Ethiopia and beyond.

Noting that locusts have been causing massive agricultural and environmental damage in Ethiopia, FAO has been making immense support to protect the spread of locust and losses caused by the swarm.

The additional aircraft is very timely and will help to boost the efforts of monitoring the movements of desert locusts and their pattern.

The ministry will cooperatively work with stakeholders through properly administer and use the assistance provided by FAO, he pointed out.

It is to be recalled that FAO has provided one spraying aircraft to Ethiopia to fight against locust in the country on March 6, 20120.

Locust swarm, which originally migrated from the Arabian Peninsula, are currently affecting large parts of the Horn Africa region. Source: Ethiopia News agency

USAID Funds 1.85M Assistance to Combat COVID-19 in Ethiopia

Addis Ababa The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a 1.85 million USD assistance to support Ethiopia’s efforts in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. 

In a statement the USAID noted that the agency is working closely with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and other partners to support capacity-building, preparation, and response to the ongoing public health emergency related to COVID-19 in the country.

USAID assistance is supporting information campaigns to inform the public on reducing the risk of spreading or contracting the virus.

“We’re also supporting training for healthcare workers on infection prevention and control measures, and training for Ethiopian Airlines staff on how to recognize COVID-19 symptoms,” the statement added.

Furthermore, it indicated that the USAID will also donate personal protection equipment.

USAID has been partnering with the Government of Ethiopia for many years to strengthen the ability to prevent, detect and respond to emerging infectious diseases of pandemic potential like COVID-19.

Source: Ethiopia News agency

WB Approves 500 Million USD in Grant, Loan to Ethiopia

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved 500 million USD in grant and loan for Ethiopia in continued support of the homegrown reform agenda.

The Board of Directors on Thursday approved the stated amount in the form of grant 250 million USD and the rest is loan from the International Development Association (IDA).

In a statement the bank said the funds would go towards sustaining reforms in financial sector including boosting investment climate and the energy sector.

The Second Ethiopia Growth and Competitiveness Development Policy Operation (DPO) is intended to accelerate Ethiopia’s economic growth and achieve its vision of becoming a lower-middle-income country.

This operation is the second of a series of DPOs and provides both financial and technical support to Ethiopia’s economic reforms, the statement stated.

The operation is designed to help Ethiopia revitalize the economy by broadening the role of the private sector and attaining a more sustainable development path.

Ethiopia, with support from the operation has continued the implementation of reforms in the energy sector to improve efficiency and cost recovery, while protecting the poor.

World Bank Task Team Leader for the Operation, Miguel Eduardo Sanchez Martin, said “this operation builds on the structural reforms initiated in 2018 and contributes to Ethiopia’s efforts to improve competitiveness, boost exports, generate jobs and accelerate inclusive growth.”

The DPO focuses on three pillars: maximizing finance for development, improving the investment climate and developing the financial sector; and promoting transparency and accountability.

Senior Energy Specialist and Task Team Leader for the program, Mikul Bhatia, said on his part that “The reforms implemented will help turn-around the electricity sector’s financial performance and support Ethiopia’s ambition to provide universal access to electricity.”

This operation is aligned with the World Bank Group’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity, the Country Partnership Framework for Ethiopia, as well as the Government of Ethiopia’s development strategy. Source: Ethiopia News agency