11 November 2010 - DANGEROUS SITUATION IN SUDAN DISCUSSED DURING GROUNDBREAKING VISIT TO ETHIOPIA
From 25-29 October 2010, members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Sub-Committee on Transatlantic Economic Relations, with the support of the World Bank, visited Ethiopia—the first ever NATO PA visit to that country. The purpose was to learn how Ethiopia has been affected by the global economic crisis and its approach to development, but also to discuss the formidable security challenges in that region of Africa, including the very tense situation in Sudan.
The visit began with a field visit to Tigray to discuss a program designed to increase food security for some of the most vulnerable people in Ethiopian society and to adopt a proactive developmental approach to food security rather than one premised on humanitarian food relief. That program, The Productive Safety Net was developed with the support of the World Bank. The idea is that rather than relying on systems designed to hand out food every time famine strikes, the goal should be to work closely with the people in affected areas to deal with the sources of famine including land degradation, recurrent drought, population pressures, subsistence agricultural practices, and the lack of employment opportunities.
The delegation observed how the Ethiopian government and local officials with strong support from the World Bank and donor nations are implementing this program. Particularly vulnerable people are being paid to restore denuded hill sides, stabilize land so that it is not washed down deep and destructive gullies during the rainy season, adopt new agricultural techniques, expand rural education, develop vital water preservation and water harvesting techniques and provide social safety nets so families are not tempted to sell off productive assets like cows and plows when times are hard. Members saw how properly conceived, co-ordinated and funded development strategies which engage people directly can make a great difference in the lives of entire regions of a vulnerable country. In the view of sub-Committee Chairman, John Sewel, improved food and human security directly translates into greater strategic stability. Such approaches, he noted, are essential to the security interests of allied nations.
The political situation in
The grave security situation in the region was also discussed.
Ethiopian parliamentarians and western government representatives in Addis Ababa expressed serious concerns to the delegation about the situation in
Finally the delegation met with the Secretary General of the African Union, Mr. Jean Ping who outlined the work of the AU in peacekeeping and peace making. Mr Ping reiterated the AU’s strong opposition to Al Shebab which he characterized not only as a regional but also a global threat. He discussed the strong support the EU has extended to the AU and its co-operation with NATO on a range of mutual security challenges.