Assessing the 5 Year-Old Greening Campaign in Eritrea

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Eritrean development news: The cyclic drought that is wreaking havoc and claiming livelihoods in many countries, especially in South Saharan Africa, is partly caused due to the spread of desertification, says Mr. Redaezghi Ghebremedhin, an agriculturalist, during an interview following an assessment workshop on the greening campaign in Eritrea. “Trees and water have a direct relationship: if there are trees, there is high evaporation and as a result there is ample source of water. And since water is a basic necessity, there is a strong need for consistent and concerted efforts on forestation campaigns.” The annual assessment workshop held at the premises at the Hager Media, Ministry of Information assessed the Ministry of Agriculture’s five year-old comprehensive campaign that aimed at restoring and conserving the forest and wildlife resources and thereby gradually reviving the once green areas of the country. During the opening session, Mr. Arefaine Berhe, Minister of Agriculture, stressed the vital importance of trees in improving climatic conditions, preventing soil erosion and ensuring the safety of wildlife. He stated that preserving natural resources in general and augmenting trees and wildlife in particular is part of the endeavors to achieve food security. The campaign, which was first launched in May 2006, includes planting tree seedlings, awareness raising programs on greening activities in all regional administrations, proclaiming and protecting of enclosures, construction of water diversion schemes and the introduction of fuel-efficient stoves – Adhanet. Eritrea is home to various indigenous trees like Acacia, Doum Palm and globally endangered wildlife species such as the African Wild Ass and Nubian Ibex. Given this fact, the Eritrean Government issued a Proclamation on Forestry and Wild Life Conservation and Development in 2006. “Such proclamation is believed to boost the Eritrean forestry and wildlife resources and guarantees their existence through sustainable utilization,” says Mr. Redae. In forestation campaigns, besides soil and water conservation and planting seedlings, the easiest, quickest and safest method of preserving trees is allowing nature to go its course by encouraging communities to preserve enclosures, notes Mr. Redaezghi Ghebremedhin.
Mr. Redae Tekle, community forestation expert at the ministry, concurred. He also added that the endeavors on preservation and protection of the forest and wildlife resources are gaining momentum. As a result, around 15 million tree seedlings have been planted in 6,000 hectares of land while several enclosures were proclaimed. But he strongly called for instructive measures for those who commit damages to the environment. “There are 39 forestry controlling units manned by 142 employees. For stronger protection, the number of controlling units is projected to rise to 52,” said Lt. Col. Teklegerghis Tekle, Head of the Eritrean Forestry Controlling Unit. He also said that since the public is the sole beneficiary of the greening activities in Eritrea, it should take the responsibility of conserving the environment. The introduction of improved stoves (Adhanet) in various villages was also part of the campaigning. Mrs. Alem Belai, a 78 year-old resident of Areza in the Southern Region, said the stove saved the community, specially mothers and students, from various smoke-born diseases in addition to its minimizing firewood consumption. Mrs. Alem was awarded a certificate for making 500 Adhanet stoves in different localities of the Areza Subzone within a year. Eritrea is endowed with various types of indigenous trees and the preservation and wise utilization of these resources can be a source of hard currency for Eritrea, notes Mr. Tekeste Kiflemariam, an expert in forestry at the Gash Barka Region, which is home to many indigenous trees. Since the Italian colonization products of these indigenous trees, like incense, have been exported. Eritrea has one of the rarest wildlife species in the world, the Nubian Ibex and African wild Ass for instance. In Eritrea, their number is stable and it’s likely to rise. And this is due to the Afari ethnic group eco-friendly attitude toward the environment, said Mr. Hagos Yohannes, Head of Technical Advisory Unit and Wildlife Conservation expert at the Ministry of Agriculture. “As flora and fauna are nature’s endowment, our tradition prohibits destroying plants or killing wild animals,” concurs Mohammed Idris, a journalist at the Afari language section of Dimtsi Hafash Ertra (Voice of the Eritrea Broad Masses).

Eritrean Project greening Eritrea
Eritrean Project greening Eritrea

Speaking about the conservation of rare wild life in Southern Red Sea Region, Mr. Hagos said that elders like Mr. Romedan Abdallah, an octogenarian and recipient of a Certificate of Merit, strived for decades to conserve the environment particularly the endangered wild animal species. The number of African Wild Asses in Somalia declined by 50% in the 1980s, according to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s oldest and largest environmental network. Large declines in the wild asses within Ethiopia have also been documented. The report further disclosed that Eritrea has a small but stable African wild ass population. Poaching for food and medicinal purposes, potential competition with livestock for forage and water, and interbreeding with the domestic donkey are some of the major threats to the survival of the African wild ass. At the annual assessment, various awards were presented to individuals and institutions from the six regions for their exemplary contribution towards conserving the environment.

Author: Mansour Nouredin

Source: Eritrean Ministry Information – shabait.com – Profile Newspaper.

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