Ethiopia celebrates Earth Day with films, lectures, and discussions

By Coco McCabe

In honor of Earth Day on April 22, Ethiopians celebrated with a three-day event designed to raise awareness about climate change and the challenges it will bring to their country. Organized by a committee of professionals from a cross section of fields and with the help of Oxfam America’s regional office in Addis Ababa, the celebration included a panel discussion, a lecture series, an environmental film festival, and field trips to selected sites.

More than 200 participants, including government officials, academics, and representatives from UN agencies and non-governmental organizations attended the panel discussion on climate change. Featuring panelists from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the international Livestock Research Institute, and the African Union, among others, the talk touched on a broad array of topics including population, health, gender, adaptation and mitigation, upcoming negotiations, and Ethiopia’s current position on climate change.

Participants were invited to join the Green Generation—a movement to help build solutions to the problems of climate change through activities that will help conserve the environment.

"For the first time I realized the urgency of this issue, and the magnitude of the problem," said Misrak Aklilu, project coordinator for Facilitator for Change Ethiopia, following a question-and-answer session on accountability and the pros and cons of urbanization and commercialization. "It is very relevant we all join this campaign realizing this issue requires our individual commitment."

But it was Dawit Basayee, a herder from the Borena zone in the southern part of the country, who gave the problem of climate change a human face. He talked about his day-to-day struggle he faced to keep his family and animals alive during the recent drought. He shared his story about the shortage of food and water that killed most of his livestock; his inability to send his children to school due to the fact that his resources had been depleted; the increasing number of health problems because of scarce water; and the threats of conflict caused by limited water and feed in the area. An exhibition that tells his story was prepared by DanChurch Aid and viewed by the participants.

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