Workshop discusses on combating desertification

Addis Ababa, November 1 (WIC) – A two-day awareness raising workshop on Rio Conventions and other related topics for effective management of natural resources to combat climate change effects in the dry lands of Ethiopia was held in Adama town of the Oromia State from October 30-31, 2011.

More than 90 participants drawn from Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and SNNP Regional States, Addis Ababa City Administration and sectoral offices, including policy makers and members of the parliament attended the workshop organized by Association for Combating Desertification (ACD).

Various research papers on topics related to the implementation of the 3 Rio Conventions (UNFCCC, UNCCD, and UNCBD) to combat desertification, land degradation and drought were presented in the Ethiopian context at the workshop.     

While opening the workshop, Agriculture State Minister, Sileshi Getahun, said the workshop is timely and crucial in raising awareness of the public in environmental protection and maintaining biodiversity in Ethiopia.

“This august gathering of stakeholders on combating desertification, who, in one way or another, has contributions in assisting people living in the dry lands of Ethiopia and elsewhere in the country,” he said.

Land degradation, which results from the loss of natural forests due to various reasons, is the major factor for the spread of desertification and the principal cause of loss of biodiversity in Ethiopia, he said.

He said estimates show that the natural high forests of Ethiopia declined from a cover of 18.05 million hectares in early 1950s to 3.05 million hectares in 1989 with an annual deforestation rate of 2.08 percent.

According to Sileshi, Ethiopia’s forest cover has recently reached to 11 percent following the various commendable measures taken by the government, which among others; include the Ethiopian Strategic Investment Framework of Sustainable Land Management Program (ESIF-SLM).

The overall development objective of ESIF-SLM is to improve the livelihoods and economic wellbeing of the country’s farmer’s, herders and forest resource users by scaling up SLM practices with proven potential to restore, sustain and enhance the productivity of Ethiopia’s land resources.

Moreover, the over all environmental objective of ESIF-SLM is to rebuild Ethiopia’s natural capital assets by overcoming the causes and mitigating the negative impact of land degradation on the structure and functional integrity of nation’s ecosystem resources, he said.

Besides, ESIF-SLM program helps to cope with desertification through participatory forest management as well as it provides a platform for stakeholders in the program to harmonize and integrate their efforts, he indicated.

Urging stakeholders engaged in combating desertification to go beyond creating awareness, Sileshi, on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, pledged to provide the necessary support. 

“I strongly believe that this workshop provides an extraordinary opportunity to all of us to know about the larger environment that influences our work and the aspiration and commitment of the government, CSOs, academia, research institutions, including the private sector to make a difference in the lives of the poor people,” Dr Menberu Lulu, Board Chairperson of Association for Combating Desertification (ACD) said.

Berhanu Ayalew, Special Advisor to the Director General of the Environmental Protection Authority of Ethiopia (EPA), on his part said there is a growing commitment towards improved environmental management in Ethiopia.

He said the people and the government of Ethiopia expect the CSOs to continue playing their role in the overall development program, poverty reduction and environmental management and natural resource conservation programs.

“In this regard the Ethiopian Association for Combating Desertification established with the support of EPA and Dry land Coordinating Group has served as a national UNCCD focal point for CSOs since its establishment in 2000, with the aim of assuring an increase involvement of relevant CSOs in the implementation of the UNCCD/ National Action Plan (NAP),” he said.