Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Ethiopia: relocating a million people

The government has started a program to relocate 1 million people before the rainy season starts in May. This is part of a three-year scheme to relocate over 2 million people from the drought-prone areas to the relatively unpopulated fertile lands in the south and west.

Last year, the government relocated 170,000 people and evidence from that effort has caused some concern. Here is what Medecins Sans Frontieres had to say last May.
The resettlement of this vulnerable group to Bidrre is characterised by inadequate planning and implementation. Preparations in the area of resettlement were substantially inadequate. People, including many women and children under 5 years of age, were left in Bidrre with insufficient shelter material, limited water facilities - no surface water - and no appropriate health care system in place to address the basic needs of a very fragile population. With the onset of the rains, access to the site has become virtually impossible.
Desalegn Rahmato, head of the Ethiopian Forum for Social Studies, challenges the rationale for the scheme.
"If the goal of food security is to be achieved, we would need to create employment opportunities on a large scale outside agriculture, in the modern sector of the economy, and enable rural people to move to urban areas," he said.

"This is the kind of population movement that will have positive results," added Desalegn...
Though the resettlement agenda is a national one, the program(s) appear to be run by the regional (provincial) authorities. Here is a report analyzing the resettlment of people in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR).