post Environmental Conditions

May 31st, 2009

Filed under: Environment — Lissan Magazine @ 22:56

Taken from the abstract:
Ethiopia’s Environmental Conditions Today and Twenty-Five Years from Now

By Shibru Tedla
Translated by Yonas Admassu
The link to the full version

Environmental Problems in Ethiopia:

What are they? Profile of Ethiopia’s Natural Resources
In order to better understand Ethiopia’s environmental problems, one would do well to have an idea of the profile of the environment. The highland parts of Ethiopia have an elevation of 1800 meters above sea level, and their climate is suitable for living. While the highlands get an annual rainfall of 700-2200 mm, the lowlands get an annual rainfall of 200-700 mm. There are also regions that get no rainfall at all. In order to grow crops and plants, a region with an annual rainfall of at least 700 mm is required.The area of the country’s arable land has been estimated varyingly (indicating such wide differences as 12-60% of the country’s total land mass). However, when we take into consideration the estimates provided by the Ethiopian Environmental Protection Authority, 51% of the land mass is believed to be cultivable, while the remaining 49% is said to be uncultivable.Forty years ago, 3.37-4.4% of the country’s land mass was covered with dense forest. During that period, also, the area covered with bushes and undergrowths was estimated to have been 22% of the country’s total land mass.It is known that Ethiopia has huge water resources. While 0.66 % (7500 square kilometers) of the land is covered by lakes, the country has 12 major river basins.The total volume of water handled by these river basins annually is estimated to be 111 billion cubic meters. It is, moreover, estimated that the country has no less than 2.56 billion cubic meters of underground water. Of the water draining in the major river basins, 75% (82.5 billion cubic meters) goes to benefit neighboring countries. In other words, the annual per capita contribution of water to these neighboring countries of Ethiopians amounts 1250 cubic meters (125,000 litres).This draining water resource, combined with the country’s topography, is believed to be the country’s major wealth, since it represents a huge source for hydroelectric power generation. The slopes of the basins are also considered big resources.  We all know the value of salt-free water for the development of agriculture.

Biodiversity resources (plants and grains):
Ethiopia has a huge pool of biodiversity. The plant biodiversity especially provides a rich source for the population’s medicinal needs. Ethiopia also has an equally huge pool of biodiversity in grains. An example or two of the uses of biodiversity will help clarify the importance of the resources. A barley species found in Ethiopia has saved the barley species used in California’s breweries from extinction. A barley species found in the Simien Shewa area in the middle of the last century was found to be resistant to a virus that almost destroyed California’s barley production. The gene that helped the barley resist the virus was extracted from the Ethiopian barley species (biodiversity resource) and was grafted onto the California barley species, resulting in a healthy, California barley, thereby, saving the State’s brewery from sure bankruptcy. This gene has, consequently, become the main agent in the brewery’s capacity to make an annual profit of 156 million US dollars.

Ethiopia’s Environmental Problems
If 85% of Ethiopia’s population, which lives in the rural areas and is engaged in farming and cattle breeding, cannot feed itself, we can simply decide that the magnitude and nature of the problem has no indicator and forget the whole thing.However, we shall be forced to look into some of the details. The main and visible environmental problems in Ethiopia, as well as in other developing countries, are the following:·  Population increase;·  Soil erosion by water and wind;·  Degradation of soil fertility and decrease in productivity;·  Deforestation and soil exposure;·  Inability to improve the contribution of the agricultural sector to growth; the sector’s stagnation and, in fact, degeneration;·  Lack of appropriate policies, strategies, and regulations, or inability to implement those that are available.In order to even better understand the problem, we need to probe into the nature of rural life in Ethiopia.

What does the life of the majority of Ethiopians look like?
Because of the poverty it wallows in, the majority of the country’s population relies for its energy on wood and/or cattle dung; on forests for its supply of medicines; on rivers and springs for its water supply; on wood cut from forests, grass mowed from the fields, and mud taken from the soil in order to build its huts; on cotton and hide for its clothing. The land on which it produces its food is farmed year in year out without any break; the animals it uses either for farming or as food sources sustain themselves through their own effort by grazing the surrounding lands, with no care and protection from anywhere. Because of such poverty, the majority of our people completely rely for their livelihood on what nature provides.  Consequently, the plants that are cut down, with no replacement at all; the land that is being farmed, without any break, year in year out; the domestic animals that breed without any human care and protection; the wildlife hunted down without any compassion; all these constitute a complex of reasons for the country’s environmental crisis.

Let us look into some of the concrete problems in some detail:

Farm and soil management
The majority of Ethiopian farmers inhabit the dega (highlands) and the woinadega (mid-highlands). The farming technology they use and the types of crop they cultivate render the land vulnerable to erosion both by rain and wind.The water that drains in this manner from every plot of land turns into streams and rivers flowing away with a full load of fertile and rich soil. When the soil is thus washed away by flooding rivers, it is not only the soil that the country loses, but also the microbes that sustain the fertility of the soil. Because of shortage of farming land, the slopes of the river basins as well as those at the foot of mountains and hills are cultivated thereby contributing to the washing away of soil from farms.

Depletion the Earth’s vegetation cover
Trees are cut down, without replacement, for fuel, for the construction of houses, for making farming equipment, etc.

Population increase (in relation to the sectors people engage in)
In reality, increase in population size does not result in environmental crisis in and of itself. If, however, a given community of people is hostage to poverty, it will negatively affect the environment. To the extent that the size of the population increases, the demand for additional farm plots, huts, and fuel wood increases. This situation will result in the depletion of the country’s biodiversity resources. If the livelihood of the majority of the population depends essentially on natural resources accessed from land, every time the population increases, to the same extent will increase the grumbling and lamentation in every household, as well as the number of mouths that go unfed as the days go by.

Let us have a closer look into the ways of the country’s rural life.
When the number people in rural communities increases, the commodity supplied to urban centers will be fuel wood instead of grains. The grain the farmers produce will not even be sufficient for their own consumption. The fuel wood and charcoal the rural population supplies to the market is not a by-product of trees that they themselves have planted, but gathered and cut down from natural forests. The source for the rural population’s cash needs will be naturally grown bushes and forests. The energy sources for the farmers’ own cooking needs will be cow dung, manure, maize stalks and wheat stalks. If the grain stalks, dung and manure that are supposed to farm inputs are used as fuel instead, the fertility of the soil and the land will degenerate, resulting in the decrease of land productivity.When the bushes and forests available in the different areas are completely cleared and depleted, the fuel supplied in the market will be animal dung instead of wood. The dung that ought to have been used as fertilizer will become the major source of the rural population’s cash needs. When drought occurs while the rural population is in this state, the people will be exposed to the lashes of hunger. The farmers that already are shoulder-deep in the mire of deprivation will altogether sink in that mire when drought occurs. When the size of the population increases, to the same extent will the land area needed for farming expand. The land area on the slopes or river basins and the wetlands adjacent to water bodies, which were not supposed to be cultivated to begin with, will be cleared and used for farming. Grazing land will be crowded. At present, grazing land for cattle in the highlands and mid-highlands of rural Ethiopia has been greatly reduced. As a result, domestic animals do not get adequate fodder, in which case both their productivity and energy will diminish.According to the estimates of experts and professionals in the field of natural resource management, by the year 2004 (G.C.), all grazing land in the highlands will be fully appropriated for cultivation. This area is domicile to 70 percent of all domestic animals. Any additional grazing area cannot be made available. Similarly, in the year 2017 (G.C.) all arable land in the highlands and mid-highlands will be cultivated. After that there will be no cultivable land in these regions of Ethiopia.

Land tenure insecurity
Because the Government runs the administration of rural land in Ethiopia, the farmers, who are the direct beneficiaries of the land, do not feel secure about their holdings. There has been much debate, and various positions have been taken, on this issue. However, the problem requires immediate solution.Although, in some regions, better opportunities have been created for farmers to feel secure about their holdings, it has become clear that there still are some situations that need to be improved.

Land use
Due to the absence of regulations and mechanisms by which to prevent the cultivation of river basin slopes, lack of any effort to protect and nurture farm plots, lack of a system as to what type of particular grains and food plants should be produced/sown, and where they should be sown, it has not been possible to properly manage and use the country’s natural resources, including, of course, land.

Air and water pollution
The fuel that we use in each household for cooking pollutes the air inside each hut. Because of the polluted air as a result of the smoke emitted by the wood and dung fuel, many children have fallen victims of lung diseases, and will continue to do so.Because people are left free to relieve themselves of human waste, such as excreta and urine, at any time and any place, these waste matters have been responsible for the spread of many contagious diseases. Because, especially, human excreta and urinary waste stand a greater chance of polluting our potable water, children will be exposed to dysentery. Because of the combined effects of this and other similar situations, 170 children for every 1000 births will die before they reach the age of five.

Damages caused by development activities (projects)
Development activities (projects) implemented at different times have caused damages to the environment. The main source of the damages is the fact that the projects were undertaken without the appropriate feasibility study.In order to better understand the situation, let us look into the damage caused by the development project undertaken at Abijata.Because of the production of Soda Ash at Abijata, the type and amount of the chemical contents of the water has been altered. Because of this change, some of the small plants and animals inhabiting the waters of the Lake have completely disappeared, while others have diminished in number. The number of fish thriving on these plants and animals also has diminished. Consequently, the number of fish-eating birds has diminished. Lake Abijata, which was estimated, according to the bird count done 30 years ago, to be home to 12,000 pelican couples, thousands of fish-eating birds, flamingoes feeding on smaller fish and plant life, now finds itself in a very tragic situation. It is now said that thousands of pelicans and flamingoes have migrated and settled in Kenya.

Controversial solutions
One dominant issue here in Ethiopia is that of eucalyptus. Many a debate and discussion is still going on regarding the advantages and disadvantages of the eucalyptus tree. It was in the belief that eucalyptus will solve the problem of shortage of fuel that Emperor Menelik had 15 eucalyptus species imported from Australia in 1896 (G.C.).  Of these 15 species, only two are seen in several regions in great numbers. While one group is of the position that, because a single, well developed eucalyptus tree consumes 400 litres of water a day, it will contribute to the depletion of the ground water reservoir of the surrounding environment, another group argues that, but for the fact that ‘Mother’ Menelik brought eucalyptus, presently the people of Lasta, Agame, Gayint, Berenta, and Bulga would have honed their axes and felled every tree of the Congo jungle. That eucalyptus causes damage to the environment is not a new revelation. Because of the bad news that eucalyptus depletes the water in the area it grows, Emperor Menelik had ordered every eucalyptus tree to be uprooted and disposed of.But that was not to happen, for the tree’s fundamental advantage had an edge over the Emperor’s orders. I think the secret lies in how to cultivate eucalyptus. If one were to take into account where each tree is to be planted, at what distance from another plant, and when it will be harvested, the damage, if any, the tree would cause would be minimal. Whether we like it or not, at present, when considered from the vantage point of the utility the tree provides, eucalyptus still remains the exemplar as far as trees go. All farm equipments, the roofs, walls, doors of houses, beds, chairs, fuel, all these and more are products of the eucalyptus tree.



post Lost Identities

May 30th, 2009

Filed under: Opinions — Admassu @ 15:15

I came to love Sundays just for sake of the last song of the mass. They would keep on chanting the melody till all have paid their tribute to the church and gave their hard earned money. The longer they kept on repeating the melody the stronger was its grasping meditative power. And I wished each time it could went on like that forever.

When I have closed my eyes to disappear in the sad chorus of this last song, it felt as if I was bidding farewell to something essential that has been already gone.

“Israeli Gamadi” The last song of the mass.

It is now a ritual. I mean, this thing with the tribute paying. I see their faces and their expression when women, men and children stand up to give their final offer. It was obvious that they were doing it more for the others to see. They couldn’t have easily skipped what they have been doing for months or even for years. This community is built on repetitions that ended up being rituals. Rituals that has actually not been part of the historical identity of these people. Rituals that have started as a symbol of goodwill and ended up as an obligation.Normally the church is half filled but on special occasions over five hundred believers could fit in there.

I was fortunate enough to attend one of such occasions. Prior to this particular occasion they all were talking enthusiastically about these white preachers who were going to hold one of their country wide preaching-marathon here. The farmers have actually started to discuss about their coming for about a week before the awaited guests arrived. They were sure that these people from Norway were taking such a burden to come all the way to their small and poor village because they loved them so much and for that reason Jesus has shown them the way to them. They said those kind of things in such emotional manner that it usually left me irritated and speechless. So I preferred to keep my mouth shut and decided to make no comment. Though, I know the reality for I have lived in Europe for years. Nobody or no organization would take such a journey to remote places like this just because of love.

I asked my self: did these farmers really know about their own history and about who their ancestors were? Their ancestors, who have practiced the Gada System (The oldest democratic social system which has been practiced in the southern part of Ethiopia), have lived here for centuries long before Christianity found its way to Ethiopia. Not far from where this church was standing, there is an ancient graveyard with 3000 years old stone-curved obelisks.

But they were been told by the so-called messengers of the Almighty that all their past history and traditions were source of sin and they would not come to heaven if they keep on practicing them. They told them that their handicraft and handmade ornaments are earthly stuff that they should have to get rid of them if they want to sit beside Jesus in heaven on the judgment day. So, they got rid of their old silver necklaces, armbands and colorful handwoven garments, wood made household utensils. They have believed that various customs from their past were truly work of the devil. May be that was not the message that the preachers wanted to transmit in the beginning. May be the farmers have misinterpreted the core message of the preaching.  But it should still be the obligation and responsibility of those preachers to clear the misunderstanding before the damage took place.

Now, here were they sitting bundled in a big hall on a sunny Sunday morning unlike their ancestors who used to hold such social gatherings in the open air under huge trees.  Here were they sitting wearing china-made smuggled cloths and shoes and china-made chip plastic ornaments. Their huts are filled with plastic stuffs that surely were produced with unhealthy and environment-damaging process. Their once green bushes are littered by thrown away non-ecological plastic garbage. They wear forged and smuggled t-shirts, jackets, sneakers and trousers with forged labels of Nike, Adidas, Camel, Levis, etc. Many of them have spent a lot of money for DVD and CD players and TV sets with forged trademark labels of Sony, Phillips, LG, Sanyo, etc. There are two sad facts about this new imported materialist tradition: 1. Those things are extremely expensive comparing to their price and to the income of these farmers. 2. Those things were made with cheap parts that usually stop functioning within a period of few months….

…. now back to the church: On that particular Sunday I accompanied the others. I was too eager to witness the occasion. As we arrived there the church was filled to the brink of its capacity. Because of money shortages, doors and windows were not built in to the prepared holes for the last few years. Though the hall was filled with the odor of perspiration, the fresh air through the openings has made the situation bearable. Since the farmers here prefer to pray with doors and windows closed to prevent bad spirits from coming in, those open holes in the church wall have surely helped to prevent an unpleasant suffocation.

The moment we sat down my eyes were searching for the long awaited strangers. There, right in front of us they were seated on a long bench specially prepared for them facing the curious audience. On a table in front of them there were soft drinks. They were about seven. Frankly spoken, I was disappointed to see that they were all very young. Actually, most of them were teenagers who likely were away from their parents cozy domicile for the very first time.

As I talked with these kids from Norway after the mass, they told me that they had just finished a one year religion course and they were there to do their first practical training. So I thought, their arrival was to use the people here like their first test object. Thinking about that, I felt a certain anger boiling inside me. Sure before talking to them, I had that feeling that they were beginners because the whole preaching procedure was uncoordinated, confusing and boring. It was obvious that they weren’t prepared well and that they had no knowledge about the cultural background of the people. That somehow made the whole event superficial. These kids were only preaching and transmitting what they have learned for a year.

Was it really necessary to travel all the way and practice on poor farmers who obviously took the occasion very seriously and made quite a long journey to be there? Wasn’t it necessary to know the essential historical and social background of a people before meeting them to pour doctrines, principles and ways-of-life upon them?

For centuries, we know how many cultures, languages and civilizations were destroyed by those who thought they were doing God’s job. Recently the Vatican has apologized for those unrepairable atrocities that was caused by its missionaries. We also know that it was a necessary step to take even though centuries too late. The alarming reality is that the same mistake is still being done and precious cultures are disappearing these days. If those responsible for this damage come out after 100 years and say they are sorry, we know that would not repair the damage. Religion is good because its core message is love and respect to God and his creation. If any spreading process of a religion does not fulfill these two essential ingredients, then we have to be cautious because there is a hidden uncanny objective behind it.

Respect! Love!

post Germany’s Top Model

May 22nd, 2009

Filed under: News from Germany — Lissan Magazine @ 10:51

Though we are not in to this kind of production style, our interest aroused to follow up the transmission of “Germany’s Next Top Model” because Sara was one of the competitors. Sara is a 19 years old beautiful Ethiopian girl from Munich. The host of this TV spectacle is Heidi Klum who is also a popular model in the USA.

Sara Nuru (photo: ©dpa,

The process of choosing Germany’s Next Model has taken about three months. Many pretty young girls take part in this controversial test process. The competition is usually said to be controversial because firstly many believe that the theme of the competition doesn’t deserve its name “top model” and secondly many more are sure that none of the competitors has ever succeeded to be a top model after winning.

Any ways, many Ethiopians living in Germany were following this program since it was known that Sara was taking place in it. Though they all had a wish that she would be a winner,  quite few of them have assumed that that could ever happen.

Even though this TV program was not our taste, it showed us the positive social transition that is taking place in Germany. Sara was not only favored by the Ethiopians. Most of her supporters were Germans and people from other communities living here. She has everybody’s sympathy because of her beauty, natural smile and free attitude.

The world is reforming it self. A great social change is taking place around us. We are fortunate to be part of this transition. It could be awkward to compare but we want to do that any way and say: Germany has now its Sara like the USA its Obama. There is yet a lot to come.


post About Degu

May 13th, 2009

Filed under: Life Stroies — Admassu @ 21:16

In one of my earlier posts I have written a story about Degu (link to the previous article). I met him again in my recent journey to Ethiopia. Here is more about Degu.

Degu did not show up the way he used to. Usually he used to come over on the second or third day of my arrival. As days went by and as he still didn’t show up I was forced to ask the others how he was doing.  Degu seldom comes out of his mother’s hut for several months, they said. He is too afraid to face the world outside. Though I was glad that he was living with his mother again but it made me sad that things did not seem to go well for him. If he was hiding from everyone like that, there might not be any chance to stabilize his life to normal again.

Degu’s opinion on “unity” 

So I intended to visit him. Like fifty meters from their compound I sent a kid to look if Degu was at home. The kid said that he would definitely be at home. So I told to tell him that I am waiting outside. It must have taken quite a long time to convince Degu to come out their hut and meet me because I have waited for at least 15 minutes.As Degu came to where I was standing, I could see that he was struggling to adjust his eyes to the bright sunlight of that afternoon. He was visibly glad to see me and his smile filled his face with life. After we greeted each other I asked him how he was doing. Degu didn’t answer my question because he was too self conscious of the eager spectators who were gathering around us. Seeing that he was too nervous that we were talking on an open street grasping everybody’s attention, I proposed to go to a secluded place where we could have more privacy. Degu was happy with the idea.

The moment we sat to discuss Degu started to speak about his situation: “My condition is worsened these days. I am steadily thinking that everybody is pointing at me and laughing. All think that I am crazy and they might also be right… I don’t know, maybe I am really crazy. I know that I have some brain issues which must be cured. But I am not capable of curing it all by my self. I am not a genius and need solutions from those who are more matured and educated than me. This area is not as it used to be Admassu. People have become too egoist and they only care about themselves. They go to church every Sunday and pray everyday but they are the worst sinners because they laugh at me. I was born here and grew up here. How can it be possible that those who I knew my whole life point their finger at me saying I am crazy. So I decided not to come out of my hut to avoid seeing them…”


Degu has never been a person of many words. His extra ordinary long sentence which he just used to describe his current life situation was his way of letting me know not to ask him any more question. Though I had a lot in mind to say, I just respected his wish and changed the subject.

For the very first time Degu did not mention about his video message: a message that we have recorded some years ago to find him a woman in the west who would be interested to marry him.

post Born to Sing!

May 7th, 2009

Filed under: Music Corner — Lissan Magazine @ 10:56

We incidentally came across Zewdy in YouTube! An amazing talented young girl. She is already a celebrity in the net. Many of you might know her already. This article is for those like us who didn’t have the chance to see her online. The text below is directly taken from her YouTube site. Link to the source

Hi! I’m Zewdy

If there’s one thing I know, I KNOW I was born to sing!

I’m 18

Born in NYC, raised it JERSEYYYYYYYYYY!

I tried out for American Idol 5 times - never made it past the 1st round. I never saw Paula, Randy, or Simon.

I am VERY open minded, I would never judge people based on race, sexual orientation, religion, etc.

I wanna thank The Foundation/Secret Society for startin me off on recording, I love y’all & you already know we’ll always be down!

If it weren’t for KHRIS KHAOS, I wouldn’t have gained so many subs so quickly. Khris admires my talent so much that he decided to make videos with me, promoting my channel & just lettin his subscribers & supporters know about me! He is the reason the majority of my subscribers know about me today & to this day he STILL hasn’t stopped supporting me! I really feel like … my Youtube “fame”? Well, I owe it ALL to Khris Khaos.. Man if you’re readin this, I freakin love you & I can’t express my gratitude for everything you have done for me..! ||& a BIG thanks to StarSearchTV on youtube, they reuploaded a couple of my videos & got me soo many views & subs =D you guys rock!I love my family, they support me so much - it’s amazing!

My family is pretty artsy - my father [enehabtisha on youtube] sings & plays the guitar =], my older sister plays a bunch of instruments & draws very well, my younger sister [ThatDweebZebeeb on youtube] draws & is into graphic design, & my brother [rep1nyc on youtube] is a street artist, & actually has his own clothing label [check it out at]

I’m NOT perfect, & I’m not a goody2shoes, so you can just get that image of me out of your heads lol
But I am a good person =]

I love to sing.
I love to dance.
I love to party !!!!!!!

Yooo, I’m a reeally friendly person ! I’m always smiling & bubbly & bouncy, so if you ever saw me in the street, you’d know for SURE it was me ! hehe

If you haven’t got anything nice to say on my channel/video comments - I’ll just block you lol =P

constructive criticism is fine, unless you don’t know what the hell you’re talkin about lmaoo !

I love, love, LOVE Beyonce !
I love Usher !
I love Alanis Morissette.
I love System of a Down.
I love Donnie Hathaway
I love Vybz Kartel !
R&B + Hip Hop = my passion.
Alternative is the sh*t !
Rock rocks !
I love me some Country =].
I have really really cool friends.
One day, everybody is gonna know who I am!


As for haters? Nobody kicks a dead dog! Ha! Get on ya job losers ^_^!



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