Though, the major factor attributed to climate change is the emission of toxic gas such as Carbon dioxide to the atmosphere mostly from industrial countries in the past hundred years, it is developing countries that are highly vulnerable to its effects. Countries all over the world have come up with adoptive and mitigation mechanisms based on their respective capacity to respond to the change. Most importantly, it is vital to building environmentally friendly green economy to withstand the effects of climate change in the long run.
Ethiopia has been trying to build a Climate-Resilient Green Economy to addressing both climate change adaptation and mitigation objectives. Various institutions were also established to follow up the proper implementation of the green economy strategy.
The government for more than a decade has devoted its time, finance and energy to establishing institutions and providing capacity building training for their staffs. In addition, significant amount of budget for conducting research on climate change and global warming were allocated to several pertinent institution. Among such institutions, the Ethiopian Environmental and Forest Research Institute (EEFRI) which is set to play pivotal role in sustaining the continued building efforts of the green economy for which the country has gained recognition internationally. The institute would in particular help to reduce the widespread deforestation and enhance the utilization of forest.
Recently, the institution held its annual meeting. Ethiopian Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry, State Minister Kebede Yimam on the occasion said global warming climate change has become a burning global issue as it endangered the very livelihood of human beings. In continents like Africa where economies are mainly dependent on agriculture, the extreme weather conditions resulting from climate change have put the success of the struggle against poverty into question, he said adding, to address this challenge, action plans based on relevant research should be made available for environmental protection, proper land management system and afforestation and EEFRI could play an immense role in this regard.
He further added that while there are several institutions which are concerned about issues of climate change, because of lack of coordination, their joint efforts to mitigate the problem has gone disarray. Hence, coordinating the effort for common action is essential, he added.
The EEFRI Director Dr Wobalem Tadese on his part said EEFRI is established to introduce and adopt new environmental and forest research technologies with the support of stakeholders. It also coordinates national environmental researches and their outcomes to ensuring future achievement.
Currently based on the mission given to it in the second Growth and Transformation Plan, the institution has prepared its own plan and equipped itself with the necessary manpower and laboratory apparatus for the successful implementation of the plan.
He further said based on the 40 years accumulated research documents on forests, the institution has prepared research strategy which will be implemented in the next 10 years. Besides, research will also be conducted to enhance the contribution of the forest sub-sector to the GDP and to deter water and soil pollution.
According to one paper presented at the meeting, Ethiopia spends considerable amount of hard currency to importing forest products. Hence, supporting the sector through scientific research is vital to substitute the import and save the hard currency.
On the other hand, the issue of climate change should also take both dry and liquid waste management into consideration. Because, if not properly managed, the waste generated from individual households, hospitals, garages, open latrine and industries would cause pollution and endanger the various ecosystems. Thus the cumulative effect further aggravate climate change and global warming.
Special adviser to the EEFRI, Professor Fasil Kebede who was also a presenter of a paper emphasized that environmental pollution occurs when the physical, chemical and biological character of land, water and air changes because of pollution.
Study shows that in Addis Ababa and its vicinity, there are about 2500 medium and small industries and 90 percent of them have no liquid waste treatment plant. Annually, they release about 5 million cubic meter of polluted water which is released to rivers around Akaki. As a result, in downstream areas near Akaki, farms and their cattle who utilize the water from the main Akaki river have been affected and exposed to health risks. As to Fasil, though the Addis Ababa city administration environmental protection proclamation clearly stipulate that polluters should be accountable to their actions, there is still gap in enforcing the law.
Regarding dry waste management, Fasil noted that, each day about 250 tones of waste is released from households, institutions, markets and factories. However, only 65 percent of the waste is properly dumped while 20 percent is utilized for compost and recycled.
Fasil further said that 60 percent of Addis Ababa’s waste is bio-waste and it can easily be converted to fertilizer but though a lot remain to be done in this regard. In addition, the waste generated from aggro-industries can be converted to bio-gas and bio-fertilizers. In general, if the necessary technology, finance and human resources are made available, waste can be converted into something useful.