Ethiopia is demonstrating that humanitarian needs or crises in Africa does not have to subsume and/or dominate the narrative. Humanitarian needs can be addressed within a larger national goal of economic growth.
Three years of drought across Ethiopia has not distracted from the economic viability and attractiveness of Ethiopia for foreign investment. Ethiopia is ranked among the top 10 most attractive investment destination in Africa in 2017, according to the latest Africa Investment Index 2018.
An independent research arm of Quantum Global (QG), reported that Morocco ranks first, followed by Egypt and Algeria in the second and third places. Botswana ranks 4th, Cote d'Ivoire 5th, South Africa 6th, Ethiopia 7th, Zambia 8th, Kenya 9th, and Senegal
Ethiopian Investment Commissioner Fitsum Arega told reporters on Wednesday that despite unrest, the country attracted 2.2 billion USD in the first half of this fiscal year, up by 22 percent from that of same period last year. Accordingly, various companies with over 2 billion USD have also expressed interest to invest in the country over the coming year.
It is important to note that this has not happened by chance. In 2016, Ethiopia faced one of its worst drought in 50 years with over 10 million people affected and with prediction of possibly rolling back years of economic achievement. While recognizing this potential challenge, the country took on the leadership of the response in ways unprecedented in the country and Africa.
Ethiopia’s very strong and decisive leadership in responding to the 2016 drought crisis not only ensured that a humanitarian catastrophe was avoided, but that its economic trajectory stayed on track.
For a start, recognizing the critical role of humanitarian reporting in fostering appropriate response, Ethiopia through the 2016 response was intentional about the messaging of the drought impact and response.
For the country, it was important that the drought response showcased the country’s economic achievement in the last 50 years. Ethiopia was the major funder of its humanitarian response, and the humanitarian response was implemented through national systems established, developed and strengthened over the last 50 years. Ethiopia’s achievement in the response was celebrated and showcased at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016. At the event, the country noted that in the past, droughts of this magnitude killed many, and caused profound suffering, but the impact of this drought in 2016 has been different.
Humanitarian reporting on the crisis struck a balance between the severity of the crisis as well as the economic achievements through which the response was being mounted. Partners did not minimize the crisis neither did they undermine the strong national systems through which the response was being carried out.
Ethiopia’s strong health system, with over 38,000 Health Extension Workers on Government pay-roll and a ‘Health Development team’ of over 3 million volunteer women from rural Ethiopia, provided the backbone of the 2016 drought response. Humanitarian partners supporting in the response, realized quickly that this was indeed a new Ethiopia and a new way of responding to humanitarian needs in the continent.
`Our preparation and priorities over the past decade has meant that we have been focusing on pro-poor policies, introducing disaster response management into all aspects of governance, strengthening government ministries, introducing satellite imagery and evidence-based analysis, and intensifying support to the agriculture sector.” Says Ethiopia’s spokesperson at the WHS two years ago.
From the recent FDI report, Ethiopia is still on track with its strategy and very clear national vision to achieve middle-income status by 2025 while developing a climate resilient economy.
Two sets of meetings and events will be taking place in, and about the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from March to April. One, a series of visits to DRC by CEOs of foreign mining companies to advocate for a new bill to increase taxes for foreign mining companies in DRC to be revoked. The second will be taking place in Geneva in April when humanitarian donors gather to advocate for funding to address humanitarian needs in DRC.
A humanitarian appeal with significant increase in funding has been launched for the DRC to address humanitarian needs, caused by internal conflict, which have doubled since 2017, says the U.N. Humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock to the Security Council on Monday March 19. The DRC has become Africa’s displacement crisis, with 4.5 million internally displaced people and another 746,000 who have fled to neighboring countries.
Yet at the same time, foreign mining firms are opposing the plan to increase taxes and government royalties from foreign mining firms. These firms say their operations in DRC would stop being profitable. DRC has considered changing its 2002 mining code for years for putting too many profits in the hands of foreign companies. The foreign mining companies opposing the new bill have argued that the legislation would deter future investment and violate existing agreements. For the millions of Congolese, many of whom have depended on humanitarian aid for decades, these arguments do not matter, after all, current investments from foreign mining groups do not benefit the majority of the people in the country.
A BBC article aptly captures the abundant wealth of DRC: “Limitless water, from the world's second-largest river, the Congo, a benign climate and rich soil make it fertile, beneath the soil abundant deposits of copper, gold, diamonds, cobalt, uranium, coltan and oil are just some of the minerals that should make it one of the world's richest countries.”: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24396390 Mineral-rich yet destitute DRC produces almost 70% of the world's cobalt whose demand has increased and price doubled with high demands for electric cars, requiring cobalt for batteries.
But today, the international community is asking for 1.7 billion to fund humanitarian assistance for 13 million Congolese in dire need. More than 4.6 million children are acutely malnourished and the country is facing its worst cholera outbreak in 15 years. In April, international donors will meet in Geneva to advocate for funding. The amount being requested is nearly four times the amount requested in 2017, at the April 2017 pledging conference. DRC has appealed for humanitarian aid every year since 1998.
While calling on the international community to support DRC’s 2018 humanitarian appeal, Mr. Mark Green, U.S. Administrator for the Agency for International Development noted rightfully that boosting assistance without insisting on concrete, measurable action “is the opposite of compassion.” Mr. Green has called for the international community to demand that credible elections take place this year. The United Nations has also condemned the use of excessive and lethal force against protesters. I will like to add that continued efforts must also be made and intensified to leverage the role and economic interest of foreign mining industries in finding a lasting solution to DRC’s crisis.
The story of DRC’s crisis is one where millions have been left destitute from the complicity of both the international community and national authorities. A scathing UN report published in 2002 following findings by an independent panel of experts noted that 85 multinational companies based in Europe, the US and South Africa had violated ethical guidelines in dealing with criminal networks which have pillaged natural resources from war-torn DR Congo. No doubt that the conflict in DRC has presented the required haze through which the country's wealth has been exploited. The planned tax increase could be a step to address it, but it certainly will not make a dent on the unaccounted for profit that has been amassed from DRC for decades.
In addition to the humanitarian appeal and the call to urgently address pressing governance issues, the role of foreign mining companies in DRC must be leveraged in the quest for a long term solution that addresses the root causes of the country’s current crisis. In the article, Mineral Wealth in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Blessing or Curse?, blogger Emma Bentley noted that the bloody conflicts that have ravaged DRC’s for decades have been funded largely by mineral wealth. “In the eastern part of the DRC, illegal trade of minerals, especially coltan and gold, helps finance rebel groups. But the majority of profits made from mining in the DRC is also used to line the pockets of CEOs in foreign countries” she writes. https://borgenproject.org/the-democratic-republic-of-congo/.
According to the five-member panel from Egypt, Canada, the United States of America, Belgium and Senegal, and British and Swiss technical advisers mandated by the security council to investigate the scramble for Congo's resources in the wake of four years of war, western multinational corporations’ attempts to cash in on the wealth of Congo’s resources have supported the war in DR Congo that left millions dead.
One way foreign companies can address the optics or perception of complicity in the face of growing conflict with increasing humanitarian needs is to fund the current humanitarian appeal on DRC and to support it generously.
As well as the urgent need to address the growing humanitarian needs, more investment should be made on security in DRC. Because as volatile as this country has been projected to be for decades, appropriate and adequate security is still being provided to enable the continuation of mining activities. Insecurity has not derailed or affected the extraction of DRC’s vast natural and mineral resources. Surely, if much and such efforts can be invested to secure the interest of mining industries, efforts should and can be made in providing security so that displaced people can be resettled and millions who have been dependent on humanitarian aid year in year out can recover their lives and livelihoods in dignity.
The Government of Ethiopia and humanitarian partners today launched the Ethiopia Humanitarian and Disaster Resilience Plan (HDRP) for 2018. The HDRP seeks US$1.66 billion to reach 7.88 million people with emergency food and non-food assistance, mainly in the southern and south-eastern parts of the country.
This is the nineteenth year of Ethiopia’s Commissioner for Disaster management, Ato Mitiku Kassa, overseeing annual humanitarian appeals for Ethiopia and he is convinced the time is right for a shift in approach to a response plan that incorporates disaster prevention and resilience building. “I have personally overseen eighteen annual humanitarian appeals. This appeal is my nineteenth. Humanitarian assistance save lives, but it is not sustainable, now is the time to move from dependency to investing in recovery, sustainable livelihoods, and the resilience of vulnerable populations.” Says Commissioner Mitiku.
Moving away from years of isolated short-term response in a context of mostly predictable humanitarian needs, Ethiopia’s 2018 Humanitarian Requirements Document, now newly named the Humanitarian and Disaster Resilience Plan (HDRP), represents a first step towards the development of a multi-year planning framework that will seek to increase the quality and predictability of delivery; and mitigate future needs.
“We know drought is here and getting stronger, so why do we respond with short-term unsustainable measures. Why do we continue to transport water to drought affected areas instead of digging emergency boreholes which is more sustainable? Why do we transport fodder to pastoralist areas instead of producing the fodder in the communities? Medium to long term intervention is the key.” Says Commissioner Mitiku.
The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia, Mrs. Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onuchie, echoed Commissioner Mitiku’s concerns. “The Government of Ethiopia and partners are hopeful that through highlighting the need for longer-term investments, while advocating for timely response to current urgent needs, that affected and vulnerable communities can get the support they need to build back their lives following three years of back-to-back droughts,” Says Mrs. Eziakonwa-Onuchie.
The message is loud and clear: drought does not have to trigger humanitarian needs. The key is investment in long term development interventions that support the recovery of affected communities, and build vulnerable populations’ resilience to future shocks.
I spent Sunday, March 11, with my 16-year old son at the run/walk to end violence against women in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was a very successful and energized day, but in the sea of at least 10,000 women/girls, only two men/boys were in sight: one of them was my son.
This was one event I did not have to cajole my son J into attending, he had announced the night before that he would be participating, this is important to him. From when he was born, I raised him to understand that a core element of what makes him a man is how he treats women and this treatment is affirmed by the women in his life, girls in his school and eventually his wife, daughters, his female colleagues at work and all women in general.
The easiest part for us in the women’s march was starting the run/walk. As it proceeded we realized he was the only man in sight. Towards the end of the run we saw another boy around 12 years old.
There were men on the sideline, outside the march, condescendingly laughing and cheering the women along. Some of the younger men on the sideline even jeered at my son who walked on proudly with his sunglasses on. He started and finished the walk. At the finishing line, some young girls whispered and giggled and one of them could be heard loudly whispering loudly “what is he doing here.”
I smiled at the group of teenage girls, walked up to them and explained that the only boy in our midst is my son and he is participating in the march today to demonstrate his commitment as a teenager to ending violence against women. He went further to share that my son’s presence in the march was a manifestation of his commitment as a teenage boy and eventually a grown man, to ending violence against women in every form in his personal and public life.
I also explained to them that as a single mother, I have raised my son in this way, and ending violence against women has become part of his core life values. And this includes him standing against physical violence as well as violence perpetuated through the exclusion of women, unfair pay to women in the work place. And we need boys and men to join in the fight. The young girls cheered in support.
Men should not be on the sidelines on the fight to end violence against women. We need them to be at the forefront. While men commit the majority of violent crime, it is important too to emphasize that the majority of men do not commit violent crime.
According to UN Women, in order to stop violence against women, it is increasingly recognized that the focus of attention also needs to be directed to men. Ending violence against women must start with men demonstrating public solidarity on the fight.
Men must be encouraged to feel comfortable in women’s spaces to demonstrate this solidarity. Many women in the 2018 Addis Ababa run/walk came with their daughters but not their sons, this needs to change.
My son and I use the list of what violence against women is by the White Ribbon Campaign. The White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) is a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls. It says:
Violence against women is also perpetuated because of very problematic definition of what it means to be a man. At the core of the fight to end violence against women, we must also be watchful of how misguided cultural definition of masculinity normalizes violence against women. Parents, and most especially, mothers of sons can begin by monitoring this and taking actions to correct it early.
For the 2019 run/walk to end violence against women, mothers please bring your sons. We need men to lead on the fight to end violence against women, and we need them to start early.
`To succeed, [the UN] must further strengthen the nexus between peace and security, sustainable development and human rights policies – a holistic approach to the mutually-reinforcing linkages between its three pillars’ UNSG Guterres, Vision Statement, April 4, 2016.
Nigeria’s middle belt has been fraught with intercommunal and herdsmen and farmers’ conflict for decades. This crisis has disrupted lives and livelihoods, rendering communities unlivable. Since late 2015, reports of herdsmen and farmers conflict has increased in frequency, and expanded into the south with increasing reports of attacks in the Niger Delta and Eastern parts of Nigeria.
Prior to early 2013, addressing intercommunal and herdsmen and farmers’ conflict was the priority for NGOs, with a couple of civil society groups engaged in peace building and conflict prevention in the affected states. Since the late 2015 to now, almost all interventions moved to the northeast crisis as the insurgency in the region gained global and media attention.
While serving as the Head of the UN Humanitarian Advisory Team from 2012 to 2015, it was important to me that response to the herdsmen and farmers’ crisis in the middle belt remained a priority even as I advocated and engaged with national authorities for more robust response to the emerging Northeast crisis.
In 2013, I led a mission to Nigeria’s Nassarawa state after an inter-communal conflict had left over 40,000 people displaced with hundreds injured and property including over 1,000 houses worth millions of naira burnt; seven communities were affected. The crisis which lasted from Friday the 13th of September 2013 to Sunday the 15th of September 2013, left the affected communities in charred ruins and deserted.
I spent the first hour making a case to the regional authorities on why I may not need a military escort as it could skew the perception of the community regarding the humanitarian role. The national authorities insisted, explaining that it was impossible to visit the affected communities without security military escort. In fact I was told it was the only way I and the team could undertake the assessment. They were right.
I conducted on the spot assessment within 12 hours after the incident, we drove through the empty villages with most of the houses burnt down to ashes. Over 70 people died in the clashes, and many of the perpetrators had retracted into the bushes nearby, probably observing us, we were told, as the assessment team drove through the villages. After visiting the affected villages, we drove about 30 kilometres to meet with the IDPs who had fled to the palace of the king of the next town.
Walking amidst the hundreds of people sitting and milling around in the palace compound, I assumed that their pressing need would be food and shelter. While addressing the group, I assured them that we would be mobilizing partners and the distribution of food, essential non-food item and eventually temporary shelter would shortly commence.
The spokesperson for the IDPs expressed strong appreciation for my prompt arrival to assess the humanitarian need from the conflict, but spoke passionately that what the IDPs and the affected communities needed was security. In his words ‘I am a very successful farmer and I can take care of my family and even my neigbours in time of need. I have two houses in my town right now and I cannot live in any of them. I need security. I am not begging for food or shelter. Please tell our government to provide us with the security we need to live and build our communities.’ As he spoke I jotted down his words quickly and looked up to see the other IDPs nodding fervently in agreement. Three other speakers endorsed what he said. In the words of the third speaker, ‘Giving me food and shelter without providing security and an end to the violence in Nassarawa is turning me and my family into beggars.’
Following my meetings with the IDPs, I met with senior government representatives including the Deputy Governor and the Senior Special Adviser on security and briefed on my assessment and advocated for security in the affected areas as well as the urgent need for immediate relief items like food and temporary shelter. The Deputy Governor assured the assessment team that the government had adopted a community based conflict resolution approach to resolve the crisis, and requested the assistance of the UN in the capacity building of state functionaries in the areas of peace education and conflict management. He lamented the high rate of proliferation of small and sophisticated weapons in the area and asked for assistance for a disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation programme for the restive youths.
The IDPs and the Deputy Governor did not request for the typical humanitarian support. The state was committed to getting the affected communities back to their homes and livelihoods in the next few days and told us that they were careful not to foster a culture of IDP camps as a way of managing the states recurring inter-communal conflict situation.
Nigeria’s middle belt is currently faced with major security challenges that is disrupting communities and people’s ability to pursue livelihoods. While many people are displaced from these recurring intercommunal conflicts requiring temporary shelter, many states in the middle belt remain determined to discourage the practice of creating and leaving communities in IDP camps. In the words of one of the top officials, `Nigerians are strong self-determined people, keeping them in deplorable camps that leaves them dependent on food aid because they cannot pursue livelihoods due to insecurity is not the answer. We must not turn Nigerians into numbers or statistics for global humanitarian caseloads.’
Recent attacks in IDP camps in the context of Nigeria’s northeast crisis and the rise of attacks on civilians sheltering in displacement sites also raise questions on how to implement humanitarian assistance in the context of insurgency, what protection means in such contexts, and the role of camps in this response.
The issue for Nigeria’s middle-belt states, and Nigeria’s northeast is security. Keeping displaced people in IDP camps without equally investing in adequate national and global resources to provide or restore security is a challenge.
Providing humanitarian assistance without prioritizing the provision of robust security to facilitate IDPs’ return to place of origin or resettlement to other appropriate communities fosters long term dependency on humanitarian aid, and as has been proven in the northeast, puts IDPs lives and security at risk. There have been at least 3 attacks on/in IDP camps in the last three years with fatalities. The risk to aid workers is equally as alarming.
As the displaced in Nassarawa informed me, they needed `a strong military presence in their communities more than food or temporary shelter’. I heard them clearly, they were happy to see me, but I cannot provide the security they needed.
Today Borno state, the epicientre, of the north-east crisis which has been the bread basket of Lake chad for decades is dependent on food aid. According to IOM, majority of the new IDP arrivals in December 2017 mentioned that the reason for fleeing their communities was due to fear of insecurity following the withdrawal of government military presence from the community. Communities felt safer having the military around.
Security is the country’s responsibility, and the Government implements this through its military. When an emergency or natural disaster occur with significant humanitarian needs arising, many countries around the world deploy their militaries or paramilitary agencies to respond. But often as international humanitarian actors in Africa, the `approach’ is to become suspicious of a military presence in the context of humanitarian needs, sometimes, and often, military response is treated as potential perpetration of rights violations.
Africa needs a well-supported military presence to restore the much needed security in the continent. Yes, we equally need good governance structures, a culture that recognizes human rights of its citizens, the implementation of robust peace building programmes in contexts of recurring inter-communal conflicts. Yes, we need all these too, but sometimes, for the conditions of all the other critical element to be implemented, we need security. And by this we mean simply the state of being free from danger or threat, and above all staying alive.
The foundation for development is the existence of peace and security. The best way a country affirms and values its citizens is by providing a secured environment for its people to pursue livelihood and leisure. The provision of security is a humanitarian assistance that allows people to live in dignity, free from fear and in pursuit of livelihoods.
The United Nations understands this role and facilitates dialogue and interaction between civilian and military actors, essential to protect and promote humanitarian principles, avoid competition, minimize inconsistency and, when appropriate, pursue common goals. The United Nations Civil Military Coordination programme is a framework that enhances a broad understanding of humanitarian action and guides political and military actors on how best to support that action.