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The world’s population passed seven billion people some years back. The question remains: how can we face the problems presented by overpopulation?
An article written on MSNBC.com, Paul Ehrlich, professor in population studies and biology at Stanford University, presented one major problem overpopulation is causing and will make worse: world hunger. Currently, one billion people are going hungry and that number will only increase.
Aklog Birara, former World Bank economist, listed another huge problem: water.
In Ethiopia alone, the population is projected to grow from 90 million today to 250 million by 2050, and Aklog notes how regional war is already make some control water more than others; unfortunately, these wars will only increase as time goes on. And the wars do not stop in Ethiopia.
The World Water Council concludes that 1.1 billion people are without access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion people worldwide live without access to sanitized and clean water. What will it cost to bring clean water to people worldwide?
When it comes to the current situation in Ethiopia, it is the same as the rest of the world.
“We need a solution to shorter rains, we want the government to transit us from rain-feed agriculture to irrigation-based farming,” says Adem Nure, 32, a farmer in Meiso woreda of West Harerge who lost his 10 oxen and two hectares of sorghum and maize crops to the current El Niño-triggered drought.
Adem also sold eight oxen to feed his family and made his young children stop education and do day labor at the Meiso-Dewale railway project that pays 30 birr a day. “I am in great fear; I have 8 children and I don’t know how to feed them. Had the rain comes on time or had there been an irrigation system, I would have harvested 17 and 13 quintals of sorghum and maize. But the absent rains poured icy water on my hope,’’ Adem expressed his barren sentiments.
Adem’s howling is an echo of many Ethiopian farmers that are hit by the drought. Many are in despair as poor irrigation practices make them easily vulnerable to El Niño and its devastating consequences which left over 10 million people to seek food aid and caused over one million cattle to die of hunger. The drought, which is the severest of similar occurrences in the last 60 years mainly for its widespread reach, disrupted the lives of over 8.2 million Ethiopians and leaves the government seeking over 12 billion birr to mitigate the havoc. Farmers resorted to the last option: selling their castles to feed their families.
Ethiopia, a country known as the water tower of Africa, has an estimated generation potential of 54.4 billion meter cube of surface water that can be developed for agricultural propose. Currently, less than five percent of that potential is used. Thought it is not backed with research, an estimated 36 billion cubic letters of underground water wallows beneath its terrain, an amount that is excess to cultivate all arable land if harnessed. This vast potential of water sources is let unutilized, with a negligible amount used mostly to irrigate sugar cane projects.
Despite the ingenious policies and strategies that strongly support irrigation developments, especially the Small Scale Irrigation (SSI) through the Water Sector Development Programs (WSDP) and Ethiopian Irrigation Development Plan (IDP), very poor irrigation works management left the country prone to droughts. The Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, that is in charge to dig up 700 dip water wells during GTP I (2010-2015), only dug 100 wells, due to lack of effective monitoring and evaluation. The ministry’s inefficiency to complete projects within the stipulated period, conjugated with escalated costs, poor designs and workmanship, poor performance and the small number of local contractors that qualify in water wells digging left a thousand dozen of farmers left out from being incorporate in irrigation schemes. Seemingly minute negligence’s in key state offices like the Ministry of Agriculture, a key partner of the Ministry of Water, Energy and Irrigation in water wells development projects, has coasted the country heavily. The Small Scale Irrigation Department of the Mystery of Agriculture lends itself for a lucent explanation of such claim.
For the country that has registered 11 percent economic growth in the past decade, nothing is more alarming than bad weather and drought, which left millions on thick air. Agriculture accounting for half of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 85 percent of employment, however, around 95 percent of smallholder farms rely solely on rainfalls.
Moreover, the exploding population which increases by 2.5 percent in 2014 is another factor to keep an eye on.