Chairperson: Ato Berhanu Debele,
Former Vice Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Agriculture
ATO BERHANU INVITED DR AZENE BEKELE (RELMA, NAIROBI), ATO ASAYE LEGESSE OF WORLD BANK, DR ALEMNEH DEJENE (FAO/ROME), AND DR GETE ZELEKE (ARARI) TO MAKE A BRIEF CLOSING REMARK. Dr Azene highlighted that he had learned a great deal in the past few days and had made new and capable friends. He thanked the Workshop organizers for bringing such dedicated and highly qualified experts together. He stressed the following points:
Poverty has to be fought in many directions. One forgotten dimension in Amhara and the nation as a whole is the marketing aspect. Market orientation by national and local government and communities in promoting actively Ethiopia's landscape and natural beauty as well as the historical and cultural heritage should be considered seriously. Ecotourism has a huge and untapped potential in the Amhara Region that needs to be developed. There are also high value endemic plants and animals that we could generate income if it is marketed well.
The involvement of community organization in the decision-making process in any development and natural resources management organization is crucial. However, community and local institutional building in Ethiopia is far behind. The formation of interest groups representing local and ordinary citizens' interest is at its infant stage. The current Peasant Council is part of the Government's political structure, is often used as a rubber stamp of Government policy, and will not help in pushing local people interest forward.
The education system needs to cater for the needs of farmers and rural people. Adult education and farmers' education in rural Ethiopia? The education curricula needs to be focused and streamlined to include a variety of skill development issues so that they can contribute (through adult education and farmer education) to sustainable land management and other development challenges.
Ato Asaye expressed his appreciation in meeting such high-powered experts and intellectuals in this Workshop and was pleased and honoured to give a closing remark in this productive Workshop. He was pleased to see that the Workshop had tried to ensure sustainability, community participation and ownership as the central agenda. The World Bank attaches a great significance to people-centreed intervention approaches, gender mainstreaming, and sustainable resources management in its poverty reduction interventions and strategies. He stressed that the World Bank had deep interest and commitment in fighting poverty in this region and has already two ongoing projects that are closely related to the Workshop theme. He welcomed the intervention and action plan identified by the working groups as being vital in meeting the development challenges of the Ethiopian Highlands. Noting that there are many donor-supported poverty reduction and natural resources management projects in this region, the GEF supported activities in line with the programmes and some of the interventions proposed by this Workshop will be complementary and valuable. He thanked the Workshop organizers for such a successful Workshop and is optimistic that it will generate action on the ground.
Dr Alemneh concluded that he only wanted to express how grateful he was for this valuable experience. He thanked all the participants for such a spirited participation and excellent recommendations for follow-up. He extended special thanks to Dr Gete and Dr Solomon for being excellent team players and delightful colleagues to work with in the organization of this Workshop.
Dr Gete thanked participants for their commitment and interest to the Workshop. He highlighted that Workshop organizers managed to bring together the best minds in the country with only a short notice. Experts outside this country were also involved. The ideas forwarded by participants were very rich and constructive. What one can learn is that Ethiopian professionals are ready to reach out, offer their knowledge, and experience when they get the chance. Dr Gete underscored that not only we need to create such forums, but also to keep the momentum and translate the result of such a Workshop into actions. This requires an active follow-up. He concluded saying that he was proud of everyone for making the Workshop such a big success.
Tiss Abaye Falls (Major source of the Blue Nile)
Photos by Gete Zeleke