A response to Mike Wooldridge's

 “Lasting legacy of Ethiopia’s famine”



Wuhib Muluneh 10/24/09


Why the BBC is always on the negative when it tries to do news coverage on Ethiopia is mind-boggling. One would be forced to think that there must be a “hidden agenda”. Recently one of its veteran correspondents did a piece entitled “Lasting legacy of Ethiopia’s famine” by portraying Ethiopia of 2009 as ‘gloom and doom’ nearly as of the 1984 situation. There is no harm in referring to his 1984 visit. But he deliberately ignored to highlight the efforts that are being carried out by the current Ethiopian government with regard to food security and overall development strategy.


As a matter of fact 85% of Ethiopians are rural farmers. They dwell mostly on natural resources such as soil, rain and the likes to produce food. These hard facts are taken seriously by the incumbent government and “Agriculture Lead Development” (ALD) strategy is being implemented for the last 10+ years. Ethiopia’s ALD strategy was assessed by renowned International Development and Financial Institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, and hailed as a brilliant strategy and would liberate the rural poor from poverty and empower them with food security. The strategy has been put to practice and Ethiopia is registering a double digit economic growth for the last five years consecutively. Besides, some Regions such as central, northern, north western, western and southern areas are producing surplus and their life within the last 10 years have been transformed.


I am currently in northern and north western Regions of Ethiopia and traveling to southern, western and south western parts of the country; and I am witnessing and admiring the fruits of Agriculture Lead Development strategy pursued by the Regional States spearheaded by the Federal Government.


The physical geography of most of Ethiopia is characterized by breathtaking mountains, hills, villages…etc and pause difficulty, for example, in terms of infrastructure development. Despite these facts the construction of rural highways, feeder roads and the likes undertaken by the Government are very impressive. In this connection IMF, World Bank and International as well as local development agencies are involved in order to speed up and complete the road network through out the country. The consequence would be food surplus in one region would be easily transported to the areas with less food security. This internal movement of agricultural products would eventually solidify the country’s vision of being food secure.


As mentioned above at the moment I am touring the Northern and Western Ethiopia by car. I have witnessed the infrastructure development not only in terms of roads and highways but also in education, health and rural agricultural development strategies. If Mike Wooldridge traveled to Korem by car from Addis Ababa, he must have seen all round development activities left right of the highways he used, but preferred to dwell on his 1984 experience in order to show the future of Ethiopia as bleak as possible.


But, I would like to assure Mr. Mike Wooldridge the new Ethiopia is not as he intends to portray. It is about time that he must ignore the ‘Mind Set’ thinking of western journalism when covering Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular.


It is now more than ‘the obvious’ that global climatic and weather changes cause not only drought and famine but also flooding. Countries like India and some other south Asian countries, for example, suffer from flood from time to time. This is why global concern on climatic change became the UN’s top agenda. Therefore, Ethiopia’s situation must be seen within the global context as Ethiopia is not an island case on her own.




The writer is a geographer by profession and can be reached at mulunehwuhib@hotmail.com