Urbanization Dilemma in Ethiopia 

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Ethiopia, one of the developing countries in the world, is encountering a new, modern era. It has experienced the fastest growing economy in Africa and these enhancements have been the most significant in the Ethiopian History. However, environmental problems are rapidly worsening by the lack of sense among the population and industries. Urbanization in a developing country is still a dilemma, whether to first focus on the economic growth or to first build a foundation for the future is the question. While Ethiopia has followed the first choice, to focus on the economic growth first, researchers have shown transportation and pollution, the ineffective source of energy and water quality has been the most serious cause of environmental problems and public health as urbanization increases.

According to resources, the main sources of this environmental pollution are metal and cement industries, fossils, fuel combustion, road dust and traffic emission. This has caused asthma for almost 90% of the children. There is no regulation that protects people from the industrialized areas in developing countries and life expectancy in such places are low because of this problem. It is also a major aspect in weakening economic growth and a significant struggle of the poverty-stricken people. Addis Ababa, which is the capital city of Ethiopia, is known to be one of the poorest cities in the world because of its state of public transportation. In Addis Ababa, there is a rapid increase in air pollution because of the growing numbers of automobiles.

These vehicles don’t really meet the standards of emission set by environmental agencies which worsen the problem of pollution. According to the IUP journal of Environmental Science, it was found from the study of automobiles that 53.5% of them were more than 20 years old and that 29.3% were more than 30 years old. This is an issue because the emission from the exhaust system gets higher as the older the car gets. The major pollutants emitted into the air because of these old vehicles are nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide et cetera. These are hazardous chemicals that affect people’s health and cause them to get infected or get diagnosed with diseases. Studies have also shown that most patients that visit the medical center have been exposed to a respiratory infection that can be attributed to the emissions of vehicle transportation in Addis Ababa.

In addition to having pollution problems, Ethiopia has also a low rate of obtaining energy sources and is one of the reasons why it’s still categorized as a developing country. The energy supply is fundamentally based on the country’s biomass due to restricted access to modern energy sources. Ethiopia’s energy supply consists of approximately 92.4% biomass followed by 5.7% oil and 1.6% hydropower. It is provided with renewable energy and these energies include geothermal, wind, and solar. However, a small amount of these energies are controlled by the government. Ethiopia, one of the fastest growing countries in Africa, is demanding for more waste and a big stipulation for electricity as the rate of urbanization increases nowadays. There is a big difference in how electricity is distributed in the urban and rural area of the country. Only 23% of the population was connected to the National Grid in 2012 and even though 83% of the population live in the rural area, they only get 5% access to electricity.

People living in the urban area have to highly depend on biomass using firewood, dung, and crop residue for cooking and heating. This becomes another issue because these things they use in the rural area emits CO2 causing air pollution.

One of Ethiopia’s problem is that they don’t use the resources that they already have efficiently because they’re not sure of how to control it. The Ethiopian revolutionary democratic front (EPRDF) has been coming up with solutions on how to spread electricity to all Ethiopian residents, but there has been a lot of inconsistency between the resources the country already has and the unfulfilled demand at the homes of the people. The difference between Ethiopia’s resource and electricity distribution springs partially from the high-class leaders only focusing on the country’s transformation and not so much on the people. According to Zemedeneh Negatu, a managing partner at Ernst and Young Ethiopia, the country’s industrial based strategy only will require more electric input for the industries restraining the residents living both in urban and rural areas from having access to electricity. This only reinforces the idea that the EPRDF is prioritizing the development of industries instead of the living conditions of the people which leads to being centrifugal for the citizens to leave Ethiopia.

Another factor that affects the environment of Ethiopia is its unsanitized water crisis. The country has been experiencing poor sanitization, water shortage, and insufficiency of clean water for a couple of years now. Ethiopia’s location and politics determine the lack of water. Similarly to the distribution of electricity in the rural areas and urban areas, clean water is allotted to only 42% of the population in the city but the percentage goes even lower in the rural areas causing significant health problems. Even though some percentage of people get access to clean water, 72% of the population doesn’t get a sanitized water. People living in the rural parts of Ethiopia get access to water from shallow water resources that are often polluted by both human and animal waste, worms, and diseases. Not only humans are affected by this, animals also die after drinking contaminated water. Ethiopia has been hit by drought several times and during this time, diseases spread a lot faster within a community because many are unable to take a shower that results in sickness. Children are the ones that are more exposed to diseases and end up dying especially under the age of 5 years old, this is also the reason why the infant mortality rate in Ethiopia is high. Young girls are also unable to keep up with their education outside of the city because they have to collect water from the shallow water resource or from a river nearby to provide for their families. Water shortage doesn't only affect people’s health but their way of life as well. Politics is also involved in the scarcity of water. Through the colonial time, the Nile river and its headwater were broken up between the countries surrounding it and this became a problem for Ethiopia’s agriculture because farmers are now fighting for access to water for irrigation. The fields the farmers work at are becoming dry and the rainy season has been becoming shorter due to change of global warming.

Regarding all the issues that are pointed out above, for transportation it can be recommended that the government of Ethiopia should take a strong action in measuring the age of all vehicles. They should impose financial penalty on those vehicles, which are more than 10 years old. Apart from that, the government should take an initiative to keep a check on the vehicles after every 3 months. The department for pollution control should closely supervise all the vehicles on road and take necessary actions. For the energy and electricity problem, It can be recommended that the government of Ethiopia should introduce cooking stove for the rural population at a reasonable and affordable price. Moreover, strict laws should be made to conserve electricity. Electric hooking needs to be banned from the country in order to provide electricity to the entire country. By imposing strict laws, the country will be able to conserve energy which will lead to electricity saving. As for Ethiopia's water crisis, it can be suggested that the government makes it its objective to provide people in the urban and rural areas safe and sanitized water. They can do that by investing in more resources that are similar to water problems. Also work more with advertising WASH (Water, Sanitation and hygiene) products in areas where citizens have inconsistent access to water and lack of sanitized water to help them find services and products for a better suitable living.

In conclusion, even though Ethiopia is known to be one of the fastest developing countries in Africa, there are some environmental problems that needs to be addressed and should find a solution for the residents both in urban and rural areas. Pollution and shortage of sanitized water are the two environmental problems that highly is affecting people's health. The government should find a way to minimize air pollution and find a way to provide safe clean water. Ineffective sources of energy and uneven distribution of electricity is another issue the government should focus on because these are the reasons why Ethiopia is still considered a developing country. 

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Urbanization Dilemma In Ethiopia . (2021, Mar 18). Retrieved May 18, 2024 , from

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