Tag Archives: Ethiopia

An Ethiopian Girl’s Journey to Build a Better World

Naboni Etansa


From April 19-22, AJWS staff and 25 grantees attended the AWID International Forum on Women’s Rights in Development in Istanbul, Turkey. Seventeen-year-old Naboni Etansa from Ethiopia traveled to the Forum with the Jerusalem Children and Community Development Organization (JeCCDO)—an AJWS grantee and a partner in the Nike Foundation’s Grassroots Girls Initiative. Below are Naboni’s reflections on her experience.

My time at the AWID Forum in Istanbul was so fantastic for me. I left my country, Ethiopia, for the very first time to go to a very big conference with about 2500 people, mostly women, from 150 countries.

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Reversing Hunger Starts With Us. Now.

It goes without saying that American Jews are pretty into food—especially during the Jewish holidays.

Food plays a central and sensory role in our lives and serves as a map of our history. Meals, recipes and the acts of eating and drinking teach us about who we are, where we live and where we come from.

But there’s a crisis on our hands—a global food crisis—and it isn’t only because of food scarcity. Sometimes it’s because of the unintended but tragic consequences of our own government’s policies—policies that we have the power to change, if only we’d do our part. Read More »

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Remembering Wangari Maathai: Renowned Environmentalist, Human Rights Activist and Winner of a Nobel Peace Prize

Wangari Maathai

I was very saddened to read about the death of Wangari Maathai yesterday, just a few days after I returned from spending several weeks with AJWS’s partners in Kenya and Ethiopia. Maathai was a world renowned environmentalist, the founder of the Green Belt Movement, a political and human rights activist, and the first woman from Africa to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She was also a huge inspiration to many of AJWS’s partners in Africa working not only on environmental and natural resource rights issues, but also with youth, women, girls, and LGBTI people. Read More »

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Video Update on the Famine in East Africa

Originally posted on the Global Circle blog.

[iframe_loader width=”560″ height=”349″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/Qx9P1RDpgeE” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen]

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Drought = Hunger? Not an Inevitable Equation

Originally posted on AlertNet.

Headlines tell us that a severe drought in the Horn of Africa is responsible for creating “the most severe food security emergency in the world today.” But is it?

Images of emaciated children and desperate parents have flooded the news. More than 10 million people in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are in need of assistance. Levels of malnutrition are rising rapidly. Some 1,600 Somalis are arriving daily at refugee camps in southeast Ethiopia, and thousands of Somalis are trekking by foot to the already over-crowded Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya. The crisis has invoked the specter of Ethiopia’s famine, a calamity that took the lives of nearly one million people in the mid-1980s. Scientists are debating whether this drought is a direct result of climate change or a natural progression of changes in the environment. Regardless of the causes, the effects—widespread hunger and food insecurity—are anything but natural.

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Fighting a Dam from the Ground Up

“These people want Africa to remain as it currently is with all its misery and poverty… I believe the position taken by such groups is not only irrational but also bordering on the criminal.

If someone were to read this passage from a recent speech given by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi at the Conference of Hydropower for Sustainable Development, one would think that he was talking about foreign governments withholding aid money. Or maybe some neocolonial force that was trying to stop Ethiopia’s economic development. However, he was not referring to foreign governments or neocolonial forces; he was referring to groups like AJWS grantee Friends of Lake Turkana who have been tirelessly advocating against the building of the Gibe III dam in Ethiopia. Read More »

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Kenyan Farmers, Ethiopia’s Water, Corn Ethanol and More – Weekly Link Round-Up

A quick round-up of this week’s food justice highlights:

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A Fight for Lake Turkana, A Fight for Life

I am writing from a tiny plane in the sky on our way back from Turkana (northwestern Kenya) to Nairobi. It is hard at times to get your head around the fact that both places are in the same country. When traveling to Nairobi or elsewhere in Kenya, Turkana people will often say “I’m going to Kenya,” as if it’s a completely different state. It gives you a sense of the government’s neglect of the region and the marginalization of its people as a result.

AJWS’s partner, Friends of Lake Turkana (FoLT), came together in 2008 to fight the Gibe III dam in Ethiopia. If the dam is built, it will dry up the Omo River in southwestern Ethiopia that feeds Kenya’s Lake Turkana. It will destroy the ecosystem and the very existence of the lake, upon which 300,000 indigenous people depend for their fishing and herding livelihoods. A shoddy environmental impact assessment that didn’t comply with international standards was done on the Ethiopia side, and there was no consultation with lake communities in Kenya.

Fishermen told us that the lake is their only survival, and killing the lake is tantamount to killing them. Women told us that the income they earn from selling fish is their only means of feeding their families and sending their children to school. The region is so arid that the only viable livelihoods are fishing and livestock, both of which depend on the lake. Turkana is already heavily affected by armed conflict between tribes, mainly due to conflicts over resources, and a further reduction of the water supply would surely make matters worse. People know that the fight for their lake is the fight for their lives.

Working closely with our collegial partner International Rivers, FoLT has led national and international campaigns that have resulted in the African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank pulling funding from the project. FoLT will continue to advocate the Kenyan government to refuse to buy power from Ethiopia, and it is now shifting gears to target the Chinese, who have just come in with their open arms and huge pockets to finance the dam.

What’s remarkable about FoLT is how effectively it works at the international, national and grassroots levels. FoLT’s long-term vision is to build a resource rights community movement in Kenya, and it has begun in Turkana. We attended two community meetings where we heard chiefs, councilors and local people all speak passionately, with ownership over the struggle. A recent public demonstration galvanized support for the campaign, and people are now asking questions and demanding answers from government officials.

Sarah Gunther is AJWS’s Associate Director of Grants for Africa.

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