This month, Oxfam launched its GROW campaign with a new report on food security. The campaign is for a world without hunger and the report shows how our global food system is failing the very poorest.
“Hunger is not a natural phenomenon. It is a man-made tragedy,” wrote Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a GROW ambassador, last week. “People do not go hungry because there is not enough food to eat. They go hungry because the system that delivers food from the fields to our plates is broken. And now in this new age of crisis — with increasingly severe and extreme weather and dwindling natural resources – feeding the world will get harder still.”
For me, three facts stood out. The first was that 80% of the world’s hungry people are directly involved in food production. Oxfam says that the 500 million small-scale farmers in the world together feed one-third of humanity – but they themselves go to bed with empty stomachs. I remembered the figure that 80% of Ethiopians are small-scale farmers.
The next was that crops in sub-Saharan Africa will yield 20–30% less (and maybe even less) by 2080 because of climate change.
The third was that foreign investors had bought 110 million acres of arable land & water in developing countries in 2009 (the size of California and West Virginia combined).
I remembered our driver, exasperated with locals in the remote south who were using a steamingly-fresh bitumen road to walk their animals to market one morning; “The people love these Chinese roads because now their clothes are not covered in dust – but they don’t know they might die walking along here!” – Beeeep! I remembered Chinese cement factories and acres of European flower farms along the lakes region south of Addis Ababa. I also noticed much less obvious poverty on the streets of the capital than I had on a trip five years earlier.
In 2010, Ethiopia offered 7.4 million acres of virgin land to foreign corporations to grow food for export.
With a history of extreme drought and famine, a future especially vulnerable to climate change and a present at the centre of a farmland grab by fast developing countries like China, India and Pakistan – How can Ethiopia protect its natural riches and provide for the health of its people into the future?
We spoke to Dr Tesfaye from the Ethiopian Institute of Biodiversity Conservation about protecting Ethiopia’s unique natural heritage and why this is important.
In less than a week, Lizzie, Alemayehu and Bizunesh head off to Ethiopia.
Good news is that Addis Ababa University is now collaborating with Elizabeth on the research side of the project. Lizzie has been working with the Biology Department; she will have access to the Library and Herbarium when in the capital, and will also have a research student working with her throughout the project; interviewing men and women in Fiche and recording the use of indigenous herbs as medicine.
Amaseganallo – Thank you!
The project has received so much support, and such thoughtful and generous donations from friends and colleagues here in Australia. We’ve raised a total of $1,450.
Special thanks to all those who have provided encouragement; to Kristen and Erin for their time and their talent, to AACASA (Australian African Children’s Aid and Support Association), Hope for Children, Kidest Nadew, Nathanael Moges, Rebekah Russell, Christine Kavanagh, David Cunnington, Amanda Brinkman, Pauline Roberts, Karen Bridgman, Elaine Searle, Natasha Larkin, Sarah Culverhouse, Shellie Blake, Kim Robertson, Cath Cooling, Lewis d’Avigdor and to all at Blackmores.
Ethiopian jewellery fundraising
On our return to Australia in March, we’ll hold a jewellery fundraising night in Sydney. Ethiopia is re-known for its bright yellow gold, quality silver, beads, amber and exquisite Filligri craftsmanship.
Stay tuned to the blog to follow the project ‘on the ground’ from next week. Unfortunately, less than 10% of Africa is connected to the internet, and while Information and wireless technology use is growing, Ethiopia ranks one of the poorest countries in the world for access. So….while we will most likely have limited internet outside of Addis, we’ll post updates, stories, film and photos as regularly as possible.
Elizabeth will be in Ethiopia from 10th January to 10th March 2011.