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Thursday, June 27, 2013


The Ethiopian rift is characterized by a chain of lakes of various sizes and hydrological and hydrogeological settings. The rift lakes and feeder rivers are used for irrigation, soda extraction, commercial fish farming, and recreation, and they support a wide variety of endemic birds and wild animals. The levels of some of these lakes have changed dramatically over the last three decades. Lakes that are relatively uninfluenced by human activities (Langano and Abaya) remain stable except for the usual inter-annual variations, strongly influenced by rainfall. Some lakes have shrunk due to excessive abstraction of water; others have expanded due to increases in surface runoff and groundwater flux from percolated irrigation water. Lakes Abiyata and Beseka, both heavily impacted by human activities, show contrasting lake level trends: the level of Abiayata has dropped by about 5 m over three decades because of the extraction of water for soda and an upstream diversion for irrigation. Beseka has expanded from an area of 2.5 to 40 km2 over the last three decades because of increased groundwater inputs from percolated irrigation water. Lake Awassa has risen slightly due to land use changes resulting in increased runoff in its catchment. This paper addresses these lake level changes and their environmental repercussions, based on evidence from hydrometeorological records, hydrogeological field mapping supported by aerial photography and satellite imagery interpretations, water balance estimation, and hydrological modeling. A converging evidence approach is used to reconstruct the temporal and spatial variations of lake levels. The results reveal that the major changes in the rift valley are mainly related to anthropogenic factors. These changes appear to have grave environmental consequences for the fragile rift ecosystem. These consequences demand the very urgent implementation of integrated basin wide water management practice.

The routine is a familiar one at Lake Hawassa. At around six o’clock every morning, people line the shore of the lake, watching as the fishing boats return. The faces of the fishermen coming back to shore are tired after a long night’s work, but they also bear disappointment.
Most days start this way – with locals counting the cost of another poor haul. The problem isn’t immediately obvious - the lake swarms with tilapia and catfish and fishing in the lake has grown massively in the last 30 years.
In the early 1980s, there were fewer than 20 registered fishermen earning a living from the lake; this grew to more than 100 in the 90s and the number has stayed high, alongside many more who are unregistered.
Even more dramatic is the rise in the average number of fish caught during the same period – during the early 80s, the catch was below 200 nets per day. Today it ranges between 1,000 and 1,500. 600 to 700 tonnes are landed per year and therein lies the problem – sustained over-fishing is having a devastating impact on supplies.
One of the best indicators of the problem is the tilapia catch – 20 years ago, tilapia accounted for 25 to 30 fish caught per net. Today, that number has dropped to five per net.
“Before, we used to go out to the lake with 40 nets on each boat. We would come back with all the nets full. Now we’re lucky if we’re able to fill five nets,” said Zelalem, a young fisherman, struggling to support his family.
Zelalem is not alone. Many young men like him depend on the fish caught every day, but nowadays, it’s not uncommon for the total catch among all the boats on the lake to be no more than 500 fish, well short of the number needed to support all those reliant on the lake and its fish.
It’s not just fishermen who are affected – the many small restaurants on the shores of Lake Hawassa are also suffering.
On one side of the lake alone, there are more than 25, selling fresh fish in just about every way imaginable – raw, fried or in soup.
“It’s a huge problem we’re facing: Since the catch has fallen we haven’t been able to serve as many customers. Sometimes, we run out of fish and we have to send customers away. We’ve had to start serving other types of food, even though most people come for fish,” said Senayit, who has run her lakeside restaurant for more than six years.
Fishermen say things got really bad a year and a half ago. Before then, tilapia stocks were in decline, but now, they say, koroso (catfish) is also more scarce.
“We started a trend of catching the very small catfish, so restaurants can use them in soups that have become famous in the area. We didn’t foresee the consequence of that. Nobody did. And now we are in this difficult situation,” said a frustrated fisherman.
Overfishing is not the only problem affecting Lake Hawassa. Even though Hawassa is one of Ethiopia’s cleanest cities, waste pollution is an issue. The lakeside restaurants are popular with locals and tourists and waste has an impact on water quality.
Locals also believe waste from nearby hospitals is a factor. There are allegations of toxic waste dumping, which many people suspect is affecting the lake.
The problem is not confined to Lake Hawassa – catfish has overtaken tilapia as the most populous species in Ziway, reversing a long-term trend.
Fish diversity at Abiyata is under threat from a big increase in water abstraction, high silt levels and changes in the chemical balance of the water.
The authorities at Hawassa have started taking steps to tackle the problem – restrictions have been placed on the size of nets that fishermen can use and on the size of landing areas.
Many people in the area will be watching closely to see whether these measures have an effect.
Fishermen like Zelalem and restaurateurs like Senayit will have a particular interest, as their futures may well depend on it.

The Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) is looking to expedite the process of developing technology for an online trading system, by the end of the second quarter of 2013.  After developing the technology, it is expecting to launch online trading on the exchange floor and six other remote trading sites, by the end of June 2014. The project is estimated to cost 4.1 million dollars.
The 2013 deadline is part of the conditions that the Investment Climate for Africa Fund (ICF) requires the ECX to meet, in order for it to sign a revised financing agreement for the project.
In a rush to meet these conditions, the ECX has started working on the technology in-house, and has extended the contract of Solomon Edossa – part of the original Ethiopian Diaspora management team that served as chief information officer for five years and had stayed back to serve as an advisor until mid 2013. Now his contract has been extended until 2014, in order for him to head the project.
The ECX is also looking to hire more staff, including capacity building consultants, for which it floated a Terms of Reference (ToR), two weeks ago. Furthermore, it is in the process of preparing a training session for exchange actors, on the concept of online trading, according to a senior expert at the ECX, who is working closely on the issue.
Since the Commodity Exchange – where Coffee, Seasame, Haricout beans, Maize and wheat are traded – was founded, in 2008, trading has been manual. On the octagonal trading floor present at the ECX, both sellers and buyers move around calling the price of the commodities until they find a matching offer and seal the deal with a high five. It is then that their contract is registered on the ECX database and receipts are issued.
This manual trading has shortcomings, including the restricted ability for sellers and buyers to communicate, amidst everybody shouting prices all at once, according to the executive.
Meeting face to face on a constant basis may also lead to price fixing outside, for both buyers and sellers. Moreover, in the context of the ECX, there is only one trading floor requiring faraway traders to either travel or use an intermediary, in order to participate in the Exchange.
All of these restrictions will be eliminated when using an online system, according to the ECX expert. A trader would not have to strain to hear prices, amidst the shouts and calls of other ECX members on the trading floor, when using online trading, as all the price offers will be visible online.
Moreover, as the online trading technology will be set up both at the ECX and at six remote trading sites, it will cut back on the hassle that faraway traders face. The Ethiopia Commodity Exchange Authority (ECXA) is also keen on the project, as it believes it will reduce the number of traders that collude outside, in order to fix prices inside, according to a high level official within the ECXA.
Considering such benefits, the ECX signed an agreement with the ICF, in November 2011. The ICF, established in Africa by several donors, including the British Department for International Development, the African Development Bank and the International Financial Corporation, was interested in the project, because it “falls within the mandate of removing barriers for doing business,” according to Veronica Moorhead, Projects Officer for the ICF.
In the original agreement, the ICF was expected to contribute 74pc and ECX the rest. The project also includes the training and capacity building of technical and end users, which is an area supported by ICF.
A series of changes to this original agreement, however, has led to delays and prompted the ICF to set new deadlines and cut back on its contributions.
The first setback was the fact that the initial project aimed to set up online both spot and futures trading contracts. Futures trading, whereby sellers and buyers agree on prices before the commodity is harvested, did not have the support of policymakers, who thought it would lead to speculation, so it was taken out of the agreement, which was again signed, in August 2012. After the agreement was revised, the ECX floated a tender to procure the technology for online trading, in which two companies participated, according to a source within the ECX. When the ECX was evaluating the bids, it claimed that both failed to provide enough information for the minimum requirement, Fortune learnt.
Following the delay in procurement of the technology, the ECX again designed another variation of the  agreement, in which it suggested that the technology be developed locally. When this was presented to the ICF, around four months ago, they set several conditions before signing it. Furthermore, it rolled back its contributions – from the 74pc, in the original agreement, to 57pc, stating that all technology production that the ECX will do in-house ought to be covered by its own finances. The ICF also stated that it will finance remote trading centres only after the technology stated was developed, and set the deadline at mid-2013 for the ECX to make advanced progress.
Following this, the ECX decided to accept the conditions, although it is now looking for additional financing from extra donors, in order to make up for the shortfall.
Manual trading will not be completely scrapped once online trading is launched, if the current deal goes through.
“Both will be available for use, and who will get chosen to use online trading is yet to be determined,” according to an ECX expert.
Some involved in the project have expressed concerns that most of the ECX members may not have the technological know-how to trade online.
“We are designing the technology in a way that it is simple and easy to understand,” the expert at the ECX told Fortune. “We will also carefully train members, before requiring them to use the online trading system.”
Despite the ECX’s rush to meet the deadlines set by the ICF, they have still yet to sign the variation agreement, Fortune learnt.
The ICF also supports setting up an e-tax filing system in Ethiopia, for which it is working closely with the Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority (ERCA).
ዶ/ር ነጋሶ የመጀመሪያው ፈራሚ ሆነዋል
“የአገሩን በሬ በአገሩ ሰርዶ እንጂ በውጭ ተቋማት መተማመንይቅር” - ዶ/ር ያዕቆብ ኃ/ማሪያም
አንድነት ለፍትህና ለዴሞክራሲ ፓርቲ (አንድነት) ከትላንት በስቲያ በይፋ የጀመረው ህዝባዊ ንቅናቄ የፀረ-ሽብር አዋጁን ማሰረዝ ዋነኛ አላማው እንደሆነ ገለፀ፡፡ ለዚህ ዓላማውም የአንድ ሚሊዮን ሰዎችን የድጋፍ ፊርማ (ፒቲሽን) በዕለቱ ማስፈረም የጀመረ ሲሆን የመጀመሪያው ፈራሚ የፓርቲው ሊቀመንበር ዶ/ር ነጋሶ ጊዳዳ ሆነዋል፡፡ ፓርቲው የፀረ-ሽብር ህጉን ለማሰረዝ ከሚንቀሳቀስባቸው ምክንያቶች አንዱ ህገ-መንግስቱን በእጅጉ የሚጥስና የኢትዮጵያን ዜጐች በማጥቃት የሚጀምር በመሆኑ ነው ብሏል - የህዝባዊ ንቅናቄው ኮሚቴ በሠጠው ጋዜጣዊ መግለጫ፡፡
ፓርቲው “የሚሊዮኖች ድምፅ ለነፃነት” በሚል መሪ ቃል የጀመረው የሶስት ወር ንቅናቄ የአንድ ሚሊዮን ህዝቦችን ድምፅ በማሰባሠብ የአገሪቱን ዜጐችና ተቋማትን በማጥቃት፣ በሀይማኖት ጣልቃ በመግባት፣ ከአባትና እናት የተወረሠን ንብረትና ሀብት በሽብርተኝነት ስም የሚገፈውን አዋጅ ለማሰረዝ ጥረት እናደርጋለን፤ ወደ ክስም እንሄዳለን” ብሏል፡፡ “ይህ ማለት ግን ኢትዮጵያ ካላት ተፈጥሯዊ ሀብትና መሠል ጉዳዮች ጋር በተያያዘ የፀረ-ሽብር ህግ አያስፈልጋትም ማለት እንዳልሆነ የገለፁት የንቅናቄው ኮሚቴ አባል አቶ ትዕግስቱ አወል፤ አሁን ስራ ላይ ያለው የፀረ ሽብር አዋጅ ግን ሰዎችን እና ተቋማትን የሚያጠቃ ነው ብለዋል፡፡
ከተጠቁት ተቋማት ውስጥ አንድነትና መድረክ ዋነኞቹ እንደሆኑ፣ ጋዜጠኞችና የፖለቲካ ሰዎችም የዚሁ አዋጅ ሠለባ መሆናቸውን፣ እንዲሁም ከህገ መንግስቱ ጋርም በከፍተኛ ሁኔታ ስለሚቃረን ትኩረት አድርገንበታል ሲሉም አክለዋል፡፡ “ምንም እንኳን በፍትህ ተቋማቱ ላይ ያለን እምነት የተሸረሸረ ቢሆንም አሁንም መብታችንን ከመጠየቅ የሚያግደን የለም” ያሉት የንቅናቄው ኮሚቴ አባል አቶ ዳንኤል ተፈራ፤ መንግስት የ1 ሚሊዮን ሠው ድምፅና ጥያቄ አልቀበልም ካለ የፓርቲውን ሳይሆን የህዝቡን ጥያቄ አልመልስም እንደማለት እንደሆነ አብራርተዋል፡፡
ፓርቲው በሶስት ወሩ ህዝባዊ ንቅናቄ ውስጥ ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ እንደሚካተት ገልፆ፤ በዋናነት ህገ-መንግስቱን የሚፃረረውን የፀረ ሽብር አዋጅ ማሰረዝ፣ በአገር አቀፍ ደረጃ እየተካሄደ ያለውን በገጠርና በከተማ የዜጐች መፈናቀልና የመሬት ቅርምት ማስቆም፣ የስራ አጥነትና የኑሮ ውድነት እንዲቀረፍ ማድረግ፣ የኢኮኖሚ ፖሊሲ ማሻሻያ እርምጃ እንዲወሠድና የንግዱ ማህበረሠብ ከወንጀለኝነት ስምና ስግብግብ ከመባል ወጥቶ ጤናማ ውድድር እንዲኖር፣ እንዲሁም ማጥላላትና ማዋከብ እንዲቆም ማድረግ የሚሉት በዋናነት ተቀምጠዋል፡፡ የንቅናቄው ኮሚቴ አባል የሆኑት አቶ ተክሌ በቀለ፤ ንቅናቄው አሁን የተጀመረበትን ምክንያት ሲያብራሩ፤ “እስከዛሬ ንቅናቄውን ያልጀመርነው ፓርቲው በአየር ላይ የተንጠለጠለ እንዳይሆን በእግሩ እንዲቆም በማድረግ ስራ ላይ እና በውስጥ አደረጃጀት ተጠምደን ስለነበር ነው” ብለዋል፡፡
“እስከዛሬ እግር ሲያወጡ እንቆርጣቸዋለን እየተባለን፣ እግር ስናወጣና ስንቆረጥ ቆይተናል” በማለት ያከሉት አቶ ተክሌ፤ አሁን ግን በኢህአዴግ የሚደርስብንን ብቻ ሳይሆን የውስጥ ህመማችንንም ስናክም ቆይተን ከጨረስን በኋላ በእውቀት ላይ የተመሠረተ የህዝብ ንቅናቄ ለመጀመር ጊዜው አሁን እንደሆነ ውሳኔ ላይ ደርሰናል ብለዋል፡፡ “በፍ/ቤቶች ላይ እምነታችን ቢሸረሸርም ፍትህ መጠየቃችንን አናቆምም” ያሉት አቶ ዳንኤል፤ የአንድ የሚሊዮኖችን ድምፅ የምናሠባስበውም ለዚሁ ነው ብለዋል፡፡
ዶ/ር ሀይሉ አርአያ በሠጡት አስተያየት አንድ አካል አጥፍቶ ያለመጠየቅን ነገር ፈረንጆቹ (Impunity) ይሉታል” ካሉ በኋላ “እዚህ አገርም አጥፍቶ የሚጠየቅ የለም፤ ስለዚህ በአገራችን ፍ/ቤት ካልተሳካ ወደ አለም አቀፉ የወንጀለኞች ፍርድ ቤት የሚኬድበት አማራጭም መዘንጋት የለበትም” ብለዋል፡፡ ነጋዴዎችን በተመለከተ ለተነሳው ጥያቄ “የዚህን አገር ነጋዴዎች ለማወቅ የግድ የመጫኛ ነካሽ ልጅ መሆን አያስፈልግም” በማለት ምላሽ መስጠት የጀመሩት የንቅናቄው ኮሚቴ አባል አቶ አቶ ዳዊት ሰለሞን፤ በአሁኑ ሰዓት ነጋዴው ሌባ፣ ዘራፊ፣ ሙሰኛ እየተባለና እየተብጠለጠለ መሆኑን አስረድተዋል፡፡ “ገዢውን ፓርቲ የተጠጉ አካላት በአንድ ጀምበር የሀብት ማማ ላይ ሲወጡ፣ በህጋዊ መንገድ የሚንቀሳቀሱ ነጋዴዎች በስቃይ ላይ ናቸው ያሉት አቶ ዳዊት፤ የጥሬ እቃ እጥረትና መሠል ችግር ሲፈጠር መንግስት ጣቱን በነጋዴ ላይ እንደሚቀስር ጠቁመው፣ ነጋዴው በአገሩ አንገቱን ደፍቶ እንዲኖር የሚደረግበት አካሄድ እንዲቆም እንጠይቃለን ብለዋል፡፡