Poverty in Ethiopia
I. The Problem
Ethiopia ranks second position among the world’s poorest countries after Niger, according to research published by Oxford University on the basis of data collected from 108 countries. World progress and benefits of globalization haven’t been able to protect a 76 million disadvantaged people in Ethiopia who suffer from unworthy life conditions, lack of drinking water and especially hunger. The level of the poorest population of this country is the fifth world record after India, Pakistan, China and Bangladesh.
Results of the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) calculations emphasizes that 87.3% of Ethiopians are considered tolerable poor. However, the 58.1% fall into the category of disadvantaged (“Ethiopia & poverty,” 2014). Global MPI for poverty research uses ten key indicators in three core dimensions that include health, education and standard of living. The problem of hunger could be also explored because the poorest persons live on rural Ethiopia territory. Here, the poverty-stricken population reaches 96.3%. In contrast, this figure is better and composes 46.4% in the urban areas.
For these reasons, poverty in Ethiopia should be studied and eliminated, because it is the main cause which deprives the country of opportunities to develop successfully, generating such domestic problems as hunger, poor medical care, and non-proper education.
Ethiopians have no profit from their various resources and their destiny is still poverty and hunger. Ethiopia is the second largest producer of maize in Africa; its number of livestock is the most manifold on the continent. Contract with Starbucks became a pledge of export partnership between Ethiopian and the United Kingdom in coffee supply. Other products for export are grains and oilseeds, leather and gold. Saudi Arabia, France, and the UK are the major “investors”. Coordinating their work with Japan and Germany, they also remain the most interested exporters.
Considering everything mentioned before, we should stress that Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Among the causes of such a catastrophic situation in the state are the followings: a rapid population growth (one of the demographic waves was recorded between 1983 and 2007 – from 33 to 76-77 million people); severe weather conditions which are characterized by a terrible drought (one of the reasons for the starvation throughout the Horn of Africa). Nevertheless, these are not the principle reasons. Experts believe that the roots of Ethiopia’s poverty are fading in states’ history, or in the process of evolution from a country to the state. Scientists consider an unequal distribution of resources, egoistic power approaches and dependence status of Ethiopia. It is an undeveloped country.
Italian fascism, the monarchy, and the recent government have contributed to the development of a heavy situation inside Ethiopia. It has always depended on foreign aid. Competing rivals caused economic blocs and vied for influence on the country. A glance at history can explain many of the processes in the modern state (Adejumobi, 2007). From 1936 to 1941 the country was a colony of Italy. Due to its natural resources and strategic location Ethiopia was desirable raw materials appendage. Italian fascism was directly responsible for the poor development of Ethiopian infrastructure. Roads in the country were in poor condition, and miserable incomes didn’t give people any opportunity to support their families.
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After overthrowing of the Italians, Emperor Haile Selassie (Haile Selassie), who was considered by rastafarians as a god, returned to the power. Selassie successfully attempted to modernize an agro-industrial sector of the country from 1950 to 1970, by the elements of a planned economy. The growth and expansion of manufacturing and services were noticeable.
However, the country did not have the administrative and technical capacity to deepen the progress. Four-fifths of the population included small poor farmers who were tortured by taxes, rents, debts and bribes. Foreign grants and loans led to a balance of payments deficit. Selassie’s hope for the revival of the monarchy was buried in 2000. The current government has condemned the emperor as a despotic tyrant and accuses him of accumulation of vast personal wealth, which should be returned to the state treasury.
The major group (especially children) that suffers from poverty in Ethiopia accompanied by hunger is ordinary rural population. According to our point of view, the low level of development of the country can be profitable only to external partners of Ethiopia who can always take advantage of its weak infrastructure and impose more favorable terms of contracts. If the problem of poverty persists, it threatens the gradual extinction of the population because of hunger, contaminated drinking water and the spread of various infectious diseases.
Experts identify the following causes of poverty, which underlie the development of approaches for its eradicating: the lack of a workable marketing system in agriculture; low level of communications and transport service; limited development of manufacturing technologies; lack of effective support for rural households; numerous environmental problems; ignoring the participation of rural people in adopting important decisions that affect their livelihoods (Nganwa, 2013).
Comprehensive and multi-faceted methods should be chosen for solving the problem of poverty in Ethiopia. Moreover, it is necessary to look for a new and an original approach that can give the most effective results in short terms.
Ethiopian authorities are deeply interested in improving the life conditions of the citizens and actively promote programs to combat poverty in rural areas. Particular attention is given to Growth and Transformation Plan. It was adopted for five years in 2010-2011 to 2014-2015 on the basis of the previous program for supporting sustainable development. GTP emphasizes the importance of achieving a rapid and efficient growth through the seven principal strategic directions. They include: comprehensive support of economic development; investment and incentives for farmers and whole agricultural areas; focus on industry progress; infrastructure improvements; concentration on a social extension; inspiration of capacity and promotion of modernizing management; guarantee of facilitating access and protection of the rights and opportunities for women, children, and youth (“Investing in rural people,” 2014).
Since 1980, International Fund for Agricultural Development has invested $473 million into programs to combat poverty in Ethiopia. There are 17 projects are elaborated and implemented. It was also granted $28 million from the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. The Fund’s strategy in Ethiopia is quite simple and progressive. It is based on the development of investment programs with a strong potential impact on food security farms, households and populations’ income, which is classified as poverty-stricken. Basic natural resources such as land and water that mean key to well-being become more accessible to rural people. It makes it possible to successful development of agriculture, producing animal products, to attract new technologies and the use of additional services. This strategy provides protection to the most vulnerable categories of population. In terms of gender gradation it is women. In the socio-economic context, it is smaller households and pastoralists. In 2010, the Fund has signed an agreement of cooperation with the Government of Ethiopia, aimed wide financial assistance for rural general. This approach has opened new horizons to achieve a general goal (“Investing in rural people,” 2014).
Researching the poverty situation, the attention must be focused on the “green economy.” UNEP stress that “green economy” is a new progressive approach. It is an economy that promotes improvement of life conditions and social prosperity, and a significant reduction of environmental hazards and ecological threats. International community and local authorities should contribute to the conservation, augmentation and, if necessary, restoration of natural treasures as the most significant economic resource and source of public commodities. Human rights and the nature are closely connected because of the right of every person to a healthy, non-polluted and fertile environment. Eradicating poverty through inclusive “green” economy, which helps to improve human life conditions and social status, leads to the harmonious development of society (“A green economy,” 2012). The multi-faceted approach to the problem extends the range of solutions that can lead to the ultimate extermination of poverty manifestations. Equitable access to natural resources, land rights and ownership increases income and better living conditions, as well as increased participation of the poor and marginalized groups, including women.
Our research proved that Ethiopia still remains one of the richest African countries in raw materials and natural treasures. At the same time, it possesses the second rank in the world in the number of poverty-stricken persons. Such trend formed due to the historical conditions of Ethiopia’s development as a state, and inefficient management tactics as well. Poverty causes hunger, poor medical aid, and spread of diseases, reduction of education level, and the general degradation of the population. The chief methods of settling the problem could be proposed by the “green economy” and foreign investment by international organizations. Green economy is aimed at saving and rational use of natural resources. Due to the effective protection of the environment, Ethiopian population may be able to improve its health conditions and increase productivity of labor. Assistance from the support funds should be directed to the development of infrastructure, agriculture, and managing systems. The support of women, children and youth should be also taken into consideration.