"Cradle of Humankind": A nation older than 2.000 years
Ethiopia is a country of extremes: this nation, which is more than 2,000 years old, is considered the cradle of humanity and is home to important World Heritage Sites. Ethiopia was largely cut off from the rest of the world up until the 1990s. Since the Marxist regime came to an end in 1991, the country has experienced impressive economic development. But despite its shimmering high-rise office buildings, Ethiopia is still essentially a poor agricultural country. According to the UN Human Development Index 2015, Ethiopia ranked 174 out of 188 countries. KfW Development Bank provides support for vocational training for young people in Ethiopia and promotes the protection and sustainable use of the country's natural resources as well as the protection of its biodiversity.
More and more Ethiopian children and young people have enrolled in school in recent years; many school leavers go on to attend universities or complete vocational training. Technical experts and engineers are urgently needed. The problem: Ethiopia's universities and vocational training facilities have only been able to partially fulfil their role, practical relevance is often lacking. Companies themselves cannot afford to train new employees internally or hire expensive foreign specialists. This slows down technological development and innovation.
As a result, KfW Development Bank supports reforms to the Ethiopian higher education and vocational training system. The aim is for young people to have better education and training, above all in technical fields. To reach this goal, KfW equipped workshops and provided additional teacher training in more than 50 state and private vocational schools so that the teachers can meet practical needs and the requirements of the labour market in their classrooms. This creates better job opportunities for graduates.
Activities are currently being expanded to include what are known as lead cluster institutes, which serve as role models and points of contact for other vocational schools. KfW is also providing funds to construct two additional testing centres and enlarge a training institute for vocational school teachers. The initiative was expanded to the agricultural sector and support for women can now be targeted more precisely.
Due to its topography and different climate zones, Ethiopia is home to a number of unique animal and plant species. It has around 7,000 different natural plant species. In addition, Ethiopians farm various crops including coffee and teff, but also sorghum, barley, wheat, beans, peas and lentils. The genetic diversity of these crops is extremely high in Ethiopia, making it one of eight what are known as "gene centres" around the world. Ethiopia is part of two biodiversity hotspots of global significance: the Eastern Afromontane and the Horn of Africa.
But the country's biodiversity and species diversity is endangered: widespread poverty and high population growth mean that more and more land is being used for farming, grazing or industrial agriculture. At the same time, hardly any thought is given to natural resources, causing biodiversity to decline further. Around 40 % of the area of the land was still highland forest at the beginning of the 20th century; today this figure is only roughly 3 %. Many animal and plant species are seriously endangered, including the popular and economically important Coffea arabica which grows in the wild in mountain rain forests.
KfW Development Bank helps its partners in Ethiopia manage important protected areas. It focuses on professionalising park management and financing the high investments in park infrastructure over the long term.
The majority of Ethiopians live off smallholder farming in rural areas which entails a high dependence on the given environmental features and renders people vulnerable for changes in climatic conditions. Long periods of drought and subsequent exceptional precipitation events have been occurring more frequently in recent years, at the same time the population has been growing rapidly and the use pressure on soil and water increased notably. However, cultivation methods lack adaptation so that climatic and demographic factors are causing degradation or even loss of vital natural resources. Important areas of productive farmland are therefore facing destruction. These developments have been exacerbating the situation in the last twenty years and put the livelihoods of many families at risk. The people are facing declining yields and are thus unable to produce an adequate surplus for their self-sufficiency. The frequently occurring food shortages must be met with prevention measures to avert them growing into large-scale famines.
Farmers in the Ethiopian highlands as well as the pastoral population of the arid and semi-arid areas in the lowlands are especially affected by recent developments. To meet the different challenges in both regions, KfW Development Bank undertakes measures aimed to improve sustainable land management and to strengthen drought resilience.
Sustainable Land Management
Particularly the fertile Ethiopian highlands with their mild climate serve as important cultivation areas. To counter the negative developments outlined above and to secure the livelihoods of the affected people, KfW Development Bank has been supporting the programme “Sustainable Land Management” since 2011. Medium-term soil conservation measures are adopted in conjunction with the long-term improvement of the agricultural production. Watersheds in agricultural areas are rehabilitated in order to substantially reduce the loss of fertile soil while the stabilisation of slopes prohibits land degradation and leads to a more sustainable irrigation of cultivation areas. As a complementary measure, KfW is financing the rebuilding and expansion of municipal infrastructure which facilitates trading with agricultural products and allows for the provision of goods for the local population.
The overall objective is to enable people in Ethiopia to earn a living on their agricultural yields and even sell the harvest surplus on the markets. This will considerably improve their living conditions.
The arid and semi-arid areas in the Ethiopian lowlands are equally affected by recent developments of climate change and the loss of resources. The predominant traditional system of semi-nomadic livestock farming (pastoralism) is well adapted to harsh climatic conditions; however, it has come under considerable pressure due to increasingly frequent droughts. The change in climatic conditions has impeded access to vital water and land resources for the local population (pastoralists). In this fragile ecosystem, each drought further aggravates the situation and weakens the livelihoods of the resident population.
To counteract these developments, the projects of KfW Development Bank contribute to strengthen the preparedness and resilience of pastoralist communities to drought. The measures financed are selected in a participatory manner and focus on the sectors of water supply, rural infrastructure, livestock and pasture farming as well as alternative income opportunities and basic services. A more efficient use of available water and soil resources and grazing lands as well as the exploration of new ones enable the population to manage their resources even under changing climate conditions and thus to secure their livelihoods. Pastoralism as the traditionally most effective economic system is supported on the one hand, on the other hand new sources of income are opened up to reduce the population’s dependence on climate conditions.