The implementation of previous pastoralists’ villagization in Ethiopia has become an obstacle for the government to attain its target and expand the program, a report to the parliament reveals.
Kassa Tekleberhan, Minister of Federal and Pastoralist Development Affairs of Ethiopia, today told Parliamentarians in Addis Ababa that especially in Afar Region of Ethiopia “there was shortcomings in convincing and engaging the public” [about the benefits of pastoralists’ villagization program]. As a result, his ministry has only achieved less than 25% of its target in the last ten months.
In 2015/16 budget year the ministry planned to villagize 37,473 households, but it only achieved villagization of 8522 households in the last ten months (from July 7, 2015-April 2016), according to the minister’s report.
The government has been arguing about the implementation of villagization program after consultations with the pastoralists and getting their approval. In January 2015 during the celebration of the 15th Ethiopian Pastoralists day in Semera, Afar Region, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn has said that the villagization program, which has been implemented in the pastoral areas, is carried out only with the freewill of the pastoralists.
The other reasons Minister Kassa mentioned for the poor performance includes, delay of social and economic infrastructures and failure of regional governments to release funding for the villagization program on time. “…Hence, we didn’t achieve our target. Meanwhile, we have taken good lessons from this experience,” the minister said, responding to the questions raised from the parliamentarians.
“Villagization / settlement of the people without enough preparations and infrastructures ready makes the people to hate the program,” the minister added. He also mentioned that in order to provide the necessary service facilities for 322,425 households brought to 563 villagization centers in the past years; the ministry has completed and made ready a total of 104 social and economic service providing facilities out the 175 the ministry planned to complete.
It is estimated that around 10% of the total population of Ethiopia, which close to 10 million people, are pastoralist communities. Afar, Somali, Benishangul Gumz, Gambella and Oromia are the major areas of the country with pastoral communities. In order to avail the necessary services such as education, health and others, the government has been implementing villagization program for the past years.
Meanwhile, international organizations have been criticizing pastoralists’ resettlement program as a threat posed against the centuries-old life style and free movements of pastoralists.
According to a 2014 thesis by Addis Ababa university student Moti Mosisa Gutema, who conducted a research on the three year villagization program in Gambella Region, the government has failed to deliver what it promised to the pastoralists.
“…Regarding the infrastructural facilities promised by the government during the mobilization period and the impacts of the program the study revealed that, only water service has been identified as sufficiently provided service,” stated Moti’s thesis submitted for partial fulfillment of Master Degree in Public Management and Policy Specialized in Public Policy Studies.
“While education service has been with good access but with poor facilities, whereas, health service is with constructed building but without equipment, professionals, and additional survive promised like flour mill, tractors, materials provisions are still unfulfilled. And also, the program has resulted in multi-faceted problems like homelessness, joblessness, marginalization, food insecurity, and loss of common property rights, social disintegration and other problems,” the paper concludes.