ESAT News (September 29, 2016)
There is ample evidence that the Ethiopian regime uses food aid as a political tool, Anuradha Mittal, founder and executive director of the Oakland Institute said on Thursday.
In an exclusive interview with ESAT in connection with the release of a new report on Ethiopia, “Miracle or Mirage? Manufacturing Hunger and Poverty in Ethiopia,” Mittal said her institute found out that people who have taken part in protests would not be given food aid.
“We definitely found evidence that people who were protesting, who do not want to be removed from their land would not be given food aid,” she said.
“In fact the ones who have been moved were told that they could not grow any food and were actually dependent on food aid,” she added.
The new report “exposes how authoritarian development schemes have perpetuated cycles of poverty, food insecurity, and marginalized the country’s most vulnerable citizens,” the Institute said in a release on Wednesday.
The report also debunks the myth that the country is the new “African Lion.” Anuradha Mittal said the new report basically provided irrefutable evidence that despite the claims of double digit growth the regime has been making and the praise being showered by donors, the World Bank, US and UK, the truth is that each year 8-18 million people in the last decade depended on food aid.
“The whole development paradigm that the country boasts about has not really helped the poorest. It has been able to hide widespread hunger and poverty by assistance from its donors,” Mittal argued.
She further noted that the development policies of the regime, not El Nino, was mainly to be blamed for the food crises. “It is really the development policies, which focused on promoting large scale agricultural plantation such as cotton and sugarcane, which do not feed people.”
Mittal also argued that the current political crises in Ethiopia had to with the whole development scheme that the regime put in place. “Protest has spread, not just in Gambella or lower Omo, but the Oromos, the Amharas and everyone has united to challenge the government policies.”
The regime’s development strategy of leasing millions of hectares of land to foreign investors at the expense of its own citizens has been described by the expert as “the worst mistake that the Ethiopian government could have made.” The strategy has “increased poverty, it has increased insecurity among those communities. It has caused more conflict where resources are shrinking.”
Mittal stressed that the Ethiopian regime, in a very repressive manner, continued to violet the human rights of its own citizens, deny them their livelihood “so few can get rich in the country.”
“The anti-government protests, which threaten the country and regional political stability, are a powerful testimony that Ethiopia’s broken development model needs to be immediately overhauled,” according to the new report.
Oakland Institute is an independent policy think tank, bringing fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time, according to its website.
Anuradha Mittal, founder and executive director of the Oakland Institute, is an internationally renowned expert on trade, development, human rights and agriculture issues. Recipient of several awards, Anuradha Mittal was named as the Most Valuable Thinker in 2008 by the Nation magazine, according to her profile.