Economic Growth and “Environmental Health” in Ethiopia
October 6, 2007

Various reports show that there has been a significant economic growth in Ethiopia in the last four years. This is good news for the future of the country.

However, economic growth does come with a cost to the natural environment. This cost can not be eliminated. However, with sound management, it can be minimized.

The fight between man and nature is a very old natural dynamics. The Discovery Channel once aired about a city in today’s Amazon forest that it said was bigger than the city of New York. It said nature won the battle between it and man and today the majesty of nature’s forest reigns in the Amazon.

Agricultural and floricultural developments that utilize some form of chemicals to boost productivity in Ethiopia are bound to increase pollutants in the country’s surface and groundwater resources. As Finfinne (Addis Ababa) and the surrounding towns and cities where many factories exist or are being built lie in the Awash River basin, and since this river traverses a long distance in the country, the pollution of this river must be of particular concern.

In addition, combustion from the old and new factories as well as all sorts of locomotives are bound to deteriorate the quality of the air and living conditions in Finfinne and its environs, which will lead to health problems to the society.

The concept of environmental protection and preservation is an old concept that is reflected in the consciousness of various societies around the world. The concept of nature protection of the Oromo people in the age old Gada tradition, the Mother Nature concept of the Native American peoples, the Gaia concept of the ancient Greece, the Universal Harmony of the Chinese people are similar concepts that must have been based on a long term observation of the preservation of the natural environment. Because of Green House Gas emissions into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution is believed to be altering the natural climate and the world scientists are deliberating about its implications and how to mitigate it and adapt to its impact. Scientists such as Prof. Lovelock have gone back to the Gaia concept of the ancient Greek people to explain the concept of the struggle between man and nature by writing a reputable book titled The Revenge of Gaia.

As Ethiopia focuses on economic development and Ethiopians and other business people engage in various kinds of business ventures in Ethiopia, it must be in every party’s interest to see to it that such ventures would not aggravate the environmental conditions in Ethiopia.

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