Washington DC Aug 18 (Aigaforum) On the occasion of Tigrai Development Association (TDA) 20th anniversary celebration president Tsegay Berhe of Tigrai Regional state Ethiopia met and briefed Ethiopians over a two day conference on a wide range of topics. The high level delegation included Aite Tewodros Hagos TPLF politburo and head of the political organization in Mekelle, Aite Kiros Bitew head of the Tigrai regional state capacity building department and TDA International Board Chair DR Wolday Amaha and TDA Execuitive Director Ambassador Tewolde Gebru.
President Tsegay and the delegation briefed TDA conference participants and other invited guests on economic, social and political developments. The president said the regional economy spurred by new investments due to the prevailing relative peace and stability as well as improved investment climate has registered significant growth over the years. The president also said roads and other basic infrastructure are being built at a faster pace and within two to three years the state will be part of a paved road that will traverse from Djibouti to Port Sudan.
The president citing both governmental and private statistics told audiences Tigrai economic as well as social progress has been exemplary for the past few years. To be recalled Ethiopia has been one of the few candidate countries on track to meet the 2015 millennium poverty reduction goal. The president informed that one of the reasons Ethiopia was named as candidate of the 2015 Millennium Goal was the fact that Tigrai was one among the many of the states that showed marked development and demonstrated measured success from the safety net program implemented over the last few years. International experts who toured Tigrai for four days recently to evaluate and eyewitness the marked changes have agreed Ethiopia will indeed meet its millennium goal.
Speaking about how the regional government is tackling the abject poverty in the state, President Tsegay explained about the safety net package they have been implementing and the success they have acquired. In the current year out of the 700 thousand or so head of households in Tigrai over 500 thousand of them are covered in the safety net package with each household having its own business plan on how to raise their earning power to 1 dollar a day and then to 2 dollars a day per person in the household. So far the plan has been a success with those included in the plan.
The president told audience Tigreans are volunteering 40 days a year to work on terracing and other critical land management projects to harness rain water and rehabilitate the overgrazed lands. University students and the public at large, as we speak, said the president, is working hard all over the state to plant trees. In a study Mekelle University conducted with the support of a European University the state has showed a significant recovery in vegetation coverage. Study shows over the last 18 years the Tigrai regional government with the help of REST and other agency have managed to restore the health of the environment. It is such success story experts like Jeffery Sachs who tour the region to follow up on UN and World Bank sponsored projects saw!
Aite Tewodros Haogs head of the TPLF organization briefed audience on the political development both within TPLF and the country. He spoke on the firm determination to bring change within TPLF by recruiting the young generation. He informed that a significant progress has been achieved so far in recruiting the youth. He also informed audience in line with the spirit of fighting poverty one of the criteria for recruiting members to the organization is the individual’s success story fighting poverty.
As far as political space for opposition parties and democratic institution and the freedom to organize in the region, Aite Tewodros said there is no obstacle for any opposition to function in the state to which president Tsegai reinforced. The regional government as well as TPLF mission and conviction is to make sure the struggle, hardship, TPLF endured over the years to lead Tigrai and in general Ethiopia to be a country that is hopeful, vibrant and bright country for all regardless of one’s political persuasion. This they said they will achieve! What TPLF or the country’s institutions will not allow is "hultum ataqeso mehed” to use force and peaceful means at the same time to promote one’s political persuasion. They spoke equivocally some oppositions are hell bent to destroy the country and derail its peace with the help of Shaibia. However, said Aite Tewodros, he is seeing some hope among some of the opposition who seem ready to play the game legally and within the constitutional framework.
During the extended question and answer session Aite Kiros Bitew head of capacity building in Tigrai explained about the challenges and successes of building the capacity of the state. Aite Kiros informed audiences that the judicial system as well as city governments is showing great improvements. The BPR has been instrumental in improving the efficiency of key government department. The many private and government colleges and higher education institutions in the region have started to produce educated work force. Aite Kiros reminded audience people should not expect all those who finished higher education to be hired by the government. The government encourages graduates to create their own employment or join the private sector.
It is to be recalled that today Tigrai has over 1.2 million students from K to 12 and over 700 elementary schools are being built and furbished with the cooperation of TDA.
Some of the delegates will continue their tour within the United States.