Articles from 2005-2007

I had kept another blog to document articles I had written and that were published in various newspapers and on various websites. Since I no longer maintain that blog , I’ve decided to move all of those articles on to this one. As you can see, even back in 2005, I had the same ideas and principles that I have today. It’s not that I’m dogmatic… it’s just that my areas of interest have not changed; they’ve only expanded. 🙂

Seven Years After Algiers

http://www.shabait.com/staging/publish/article_007606.html

Seven Years After Algiers
By Rahel Weldeab
Dec 13, 2007, 14:01

December 12, 2007 marked the 7th anniversary of the signing of the Algiers Peace Agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia. An anniversary that Eritreans have little reason to even recognize came and passed with little notice. Although the signing of the peace agreement stopped the bloody border conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia, it also is seen as the start of Eritrea’s long struggle for justice (again).

Several heads of states, the UN and the AU witnessed the signing as guarantors of the peace agreement, and after long legal litigations by both parties, the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) issued, in accordance to its mandate entrusted by it through the Algiers Agreement, its final and binding verdict. The verdict came out in April 2002; if all would have went according to the rules—in other words, if Ethiopia would have honored its treaty obligations—the border would have been fully demarcated by November 2003.

Seven years after the signing, a few questions come to mind. Was there a reason to celebrate the anniversary of the Algiers Peace Agreement? What changed after seven years? Is it all over now? What do we do next?

Was there a reason to celebrate the anniversary of the Algiers Peace Agreement?

Well, nobody thought about having a parade go down Liberation Avenue. In fact, this article is probably the most anybody will see in regard to the anniversary of the Algiers Peace Agreement. Most Eritreans just went on with their daily routine as if it was any other day. But why wouldn’t the Eritrean people recognize this day? I mean, it did end the war, right?

The truth of the matter is, although it did end the war, it did not usher peace. In fact, after seven years, war is still a possibility as the TPLF regime threatens Eritrea ‘s territorial integrity. However, more important is the lesson that the Eritrean people have learned from the peace agreement. The lesson learned: not everybody is so interested in justice and the rule of law.

Knowing that the only way to secure enduring and sustainable peace is through respecting the rule of law and the integrity of arbitrated decisions, Eritrea fully cooperated with the boundary commission in all of its delimitation decisions and demarcation instructions. Eritrea did not accept the EEBC ruling because it won in the litigation (the town of Badme is Eritrean territory) but because she knows the grave consequences of not respecting the rule of law. Moreover, any diplomatic effort, however well-intentioned, that would have attempted to shift the legal jurisdiction of the case of the EEBC to another body would not only have been stillborn but also laden with grave legal consequence.

For various reasons, the TPLF regime doesn’t share such principles. More importantly, however, is that the lesson Eritrea learned comes from how much the ‘international community’ (i.e. the US Administration) doesn’t believe in such principle as well. It has already been exposed—in his memoir, John Bolton revealed that Frazer wanted him to re-open the 2002 EEBC decision. Much rhetoric comes from the American side about democracy and justice, but when it comes to American reality, justice is only as important as American national interests. What seemed like a clear-cut deal—final and binding only has one definition—would continue to drag on for more than 4 years. Since the signing at Algiers and the coming out of the EEBC’s verdict at the Hague, Eritrean had been patiently waiting for the TPLF regime and their masters to respect the contents of the peace agreement.

What changed after seven years?

These last seven years haven’t been easy but the Eritrean people have much reason to celebrate, whether if it is for the heroism and unity of its people or the incredible development achievements made while challenging a ‘no war, no peace’ situation. What makes things a little different this year, however, is that the EEBC’s mandate is fulfilled. Since 1 December 2007 , the border automatically stands as demarcated by the boundary points of the delimitation decision of 13 April 2002 —it is the only valid legal description of the boundary. Mind you, it took long enough to happen but it finally did. The consistency in the way the Eritrean people uphold their values has gotten them to this point. Not adhering to the cheap attempts by the TPLF regime to undermine the rule of law, the truth has won at the end of the day.

The TPLF regime has tried to buy itself time in the hope that it could do something to change the verdict of the border. This delay has only delayed any possibility of creating a conducive climate for wounds to heal between the two brotherly people of Eritrea and Ethiopia. To count how many implausible excuses the TPLF regime tried to use to change the final and binding decision on the border is a tedious and annoying task, but one thing is for sure—they have been playing with the lives and opportunities of both the Eritrean and Ethiopian people. ‘Accepting in principle,’ ‘5-point peace agreement,’ ‘dialogue’, ‘peace talks’, etc.—we’ve heard it all. They claimed that the EEBC ruling on the border would divide villages, communities, burial lands and people. If they really did care about people, not only would they have abided by the Algiers Peace Agreement but they would have also left Eritrean sovereign territory so that displaced Eritreans could move back to their homes. They wouldn’t have kicked out and stolen all the assets of thousands of Eritreans from Ethiopia during 1997-98.

Is it all over now? What do we do next?

Such misapprehension of the EEBC ruling continues and the TPLF still calls the decision unjust and illegal. They still say that ‘we cannot divide a household in half’ so as to misguide the international community. The fact that there are still some displaced Eritreans who haven’t returned to their homes is not considered an issue for them. But at this point, the implementation of this internationally recognized boundary line means to respect the boundary the EEBC ruled on and there really isn’t any turning back on this basic but very important fact.

To say that our battles are over would be a serious mistake. Demarcation is complete and there isn’t a temporary security zone anymore, but the TPLF regime is still threatening Eritrea’s territorial integrity. There are still armed troops currently stationed north of the demarcation line, within sovereign Eritrean territory. And as the TPLF is becoming desperate to hold its ever-weakening power, they prepare to launch a war against Eritrea. Meles has already told the parliament in Addis Ababa that his government has increased its military budget; he is now waiting for the ‘green light’ from the US Administration.

As this ‘7th year anniversary’ will be marked with no change in the daily lives of Eritreans, we should continue to do what we are doing. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything to do. On the contrary, it means that we should continue to build our unity and our nation. Our nation building process does not only guarantee Eritrea’s potential for full economic growth and higher standard of living, but it also guarantees our sovereignty.

One thing that we cannot forget is that although our border is internationally recognized, the pillars are not set on the ground. We don’t have to put emphasis on this, however. Not all the borders of the world are marked by pillars and fences. Moreover, since the EEBC has completed its mandate, there is no reason to ask them to come back to place pillars to mark the border. In fact, promoting this might even encourage the appointment of a new commission, which is of course completely illegal.

These times are as challenging as ever, but despite what day of the year it is, we do have a lot to celebrate. But more important is how much we guard our achievements. Anyone who would undermine Eritrea as a sovereign country and as a united people will not go unnoticed. As a people, we are and we must always be prepared for any eventuality. Victory is ours as we stick to our principles and values and the glory of our martyrs will never diminish. Congratulations people of Eritrea!

___________
DISCLAIMER:
The views expressed in the commentary section of Shabait.com do not necessarily reflect those of the Ministry of Information of the State of Eritrea. The writer contributed this article and bears sole responsibility for its contents.

 

The Truth about Working Together Out of Poverty

 

From shabait.com

The Truth about Working Together Out of Poverty
By Rahel Weldeab
Oct 17, 2007, 12:53

Another International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (17 October 2007) will be observed today for the 15 th year and yet sub-Sahara Africa is still way behind in achieving the first millennium development goal (MDG) of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. The slow pace of progress in the majority of countries indicates that given the current trends, Africa is unlikely to reach this goal. Hunger continues to haunt most countries as they still rely on subsistence agriculture for survival and as food security is directly related to the weather. Faced with consecutive years of poor agricultural production and consequent humanitarian crises, many governments have had to spend scarce resources to purchase emergency rations. In fact, Africa’s dependency on foreign aid has yet to decrease poverty even by a small percentile. Despite the huge amount of raw materials leaving Africa and entering Western markets, most countries in Africa have been riddled by the negative consequences of foreign aid. Although Africa has the potential of sustaining itself on free trade, it seems that western countries are not interested in fostering trade relations that benefits all partners mutually. In other words, after decolonization, the nature of trade is so out of balance that we are seeing neo-colonialism crippling the continent into more extreme poverty.

The theme of this year’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is “working together out of poverty.’ This theme was chosen by the UN to highlight the need for a truly global anti-poverty alliance, one in which both developed and developing countries participate actively. This theme brings out the importance of the relationship between the first MDG (eradicate extreme poverty and hunger) and the eighth MDG (develop a global partnership for development). Supposedly, at the heart of the millennium development goals is the understanding that fighting poverty is a collective understanding in which all countries have a stake in the results. This ‘global social pact’ of the UN Millennium Declaration is supposed to mean developing countries will do more to ensure their own development and developed countries will support them through aid, debt relief, and better opportunities for trade. This article will attempt to shed some important light on this topic.

The myth that aid helps

As the saying goes, ‘…give a man a fish and he will not go hungry for a day; teach a man to fish and he will not go hungry for the rest of his life.’ Foreign aid is supposed to be used to empower people so that they can lift themselves out of poverty and improve their standard of living, and yet the continent that is most dependent on foreign aid is the most impoverished. In fact, foreign aid can be described as a new agent of neo-colonialism and psychological warfare. Those ‘honorable initiatives’ of organizing music concerts to raise money to feed poor and starving children in Africa has only made matters worse; as some countries wait for handouts, the amount of aid needed to feed starving children today has more than doubled since the 1980s.

What is really needed is not aid, but trade. However, despite continuous calls for free trade by African nations, activist movements, civil society organizations and NGOs, the exploitation of African resources continues with no improvements in trade relations. Some big name initiatives are out there but they have yet to make any type of positive impact. For example, there is the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) of the Untied States which is supposed to be a tool for sustainable growth and poverty reduction through opening up trade between the US and Africa. However, as far as reaching this goal, Agoa has yet to even make a dent in developing agriculture, which is the key to Africa’s economic growth. The truth about Agoa is that it is primarily a means of enabling African oil to enter US markets without duty charges (oil represents more than 80% of Agoa imports to the US). The oil trade has little impact on hunger and poverty alleviation and it has even been associated with civil conflict.

The truth is, foreign aid, especially when it is given too hastily in complex political emergencies and other forms of disasters, often produces perverse and very counter-productive results. Prevention is better than a temporary cure; accordingly, the principles of development approaches should understand and address the underlying causes of poverty and vulnerability. Such an approach requires new and higher standards of participation and accountability, and they should work to strengthen and diversify potential safety nets.

Global partnerships are hard to come by

True cooperation for development is very hard to come by due to the lack of clear ground rules. Some reasons that explain the need for such ground rules include complex political environments, little ‘ Third World exposure’ and the fact that Northern approaches are frequently inappropriate for Southern problems. Therefore, for global partnerships to work and be sustainable, principles of ownership for capacity development, supporting development fit for country-specific conditions, and a long-term commitment are necessary. However, in many cases, such principles are overlooked when development agencies do not give due respect to the needs of the partner country. Moreover, it isn’t a secret that development assistance and even, in some cases, humanitarian aid is given for political ‘favors.’ On top of this, we cannot deny that racism and neocolonialism affect the type of ‘partnerships’ that can be developed, with the ‘they-don’t-know-what’s-better-for-themselves’ type of comments that often come up at luncheons expatriates have among themselves.

Foreign aid is simply not reliable

Foreign aid, and even humanitarian aid, is often given in political contexts. Therefore, if you are not a political ally or if there are not economic/exploitive opportunities for foreign investment in your country, you are not going to be on the top of the list to receive aid, despite how much you might need it. In April 2003, when Eritrea did appeal to get food aid to prevent a crisis from happening (due to drought and the amount of internally displaced people of the border conflict), food aid pledges met only 43% of the estimated national requirements. Knowing how unreliable the international community can be, the government chose to conduct several activities. These activities include the formation of the National Drought Relief Coordinating Committee, the purchase of grain from the international market, and appealing to Eritreans living inside and outside the country for donations. Even more has been done since the drought crisis—campaigns for water conservation awareness, expansion of drip irrigation systems, intensification of the construction of dams and digging of wells, construction of roads to major agricultural areas, introduction of mechanized farming, and incentives to commercial farmers are being performed by the people and Government of Eritrea and very positive results are being witnessed.

As Africans, we have to realize that we can change our situations by working hard and working together. Partnerships with the west can be beneficial, but only if intentions are genuine. But, more importantly, we cannot wait for the west to give hand outs—we should be able to create our own programs and initiatives that match our own particular needs.

Practical action and not summits are the only way to eradicate poverty

Despite external constraints however, the responsibility of eradicating poverty in the South ultimately lies in the hands of those living in the South. Yes, the UN has their summits and other big meetings where they think and suggest of ways to eradicate poverty—but what is really needed is practical action. The fundamental principle that Eritrea adheres to in this regard is based on ardent practical action and not on seemingly grandiose but empty theories—we know that any country runs the risk of being ruthlessly exploited and oppressed if it doesn’t continuously endeavor to be self-reliant and participates in the world economy as an equal partner.

For Africa , putting an end to colonization was a major goal in the 20th century. However, as witnessed today, colonization has only been replaced with neo-colonization. Fortunately for Eritrea , who freed herself from colonization way after other African nations, things didn’t stop at independence. Observing the experiences of others, we continued to embark on development right after gaining independence, to make up for time and opportunities lost during the years of colonial rule. A clear example of this is the creation of the National Service program, with its sole objective to cultivate capable, hardworking, and alert citizens who would turn the Eritrean people’s dreams into reality and do away with poverty. In order to carryout an effective struggle against poverty and backwardness, however, the establishment of peaceful and stable grounds is required because as long as there are anti-peace elements around, we cannot efficiently develop our country. Therefore, the national service program is also building a strong nation that cannot be challenged by its enemies and where peace and development is secured.

Peace needs development and development needs peace

It is obvious that regional and global peace and stability are a crucial prerequisite for development and the eradication of poverty. Eritrea is set out to establish mutual beneficial relations with neighboring countries by strengthening historical, cultural and economic ties to promote conducive grounds for joint economic progress. As we live in a world of perpetual globalization, there is no nation that can hope to secure economic development in isolation. And if you live in the Horn of Africa, you cannot expect to invest in economic development without giving due consideration to investing in peace initiatives among your neighbors. Eritrea knows this all too well and has contributed positively to this end. An example of this is the historical signing of the Asmara peace agreement between the Sudanese Government of National Unity and the East Sudan Front, which has just experienced its first anniversary last Sunday (14 October). Our motivation for striving to ensure reliable regional peace is to overcome any hostilities designed to pose obstacles in our fight to eradicate poverty.

Neo-imperialists simply do not support self-reliance

Despite efforts for peace and development on the part of Eritrea , there are continuous smear campaigns against Eritrea , particularly from the United States . Neo-imperialists pout, saying ‘…we watched them throw out USAID’ as if Eritrea had no right to do so. The US is pissed off by the fact that Eritrea would take such a bold stance and put a halt to 10 years of dependency and paralysis of the country’s own productive capacities. It isn’t like Eritrea is the only one to take such action. Just recently, the international charity organization CARE even announced that it will no longer accept US-donated food aid to Africa as it undermines farmers and households, is not sustainable, and doesn’t bring any long-term change to malnutrition rates.

Sometimes, the west does promote African action but with the right analysis, it is easy to see that they promote African action when they do not want to take action. The idea of African solutions for African problems is being abused by the western side because when the west doesn’t want to get involved, it is an African solution which is needed. But if there is something to be gained by intervening—economic opportunities, military bases, oil, etc.—then you will see a huge interest to intervene on the part of the west.

Eritrea still has a long way, but is on the right track

Eritrea still has a long way to go to eradicate poverty. However, if we stick to our principles of self-reliance and human resource development, we will continue to embark on the right track to real, sustainable development. Programs being conducted to promote food security are showing very positive and promising developments. Putting special attention on agriculture is an integral part of national development, as more than 75 percent of our population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods.

There is still a long way to go to reach full development, including meeting the demands for increased production and effectively utilizing changes that will affect the entire social, political, and institution structure of rural society. We still need to continue to embark on human resource development as this is also very important to eradicate poverty. But most importantly, we have to work together to win the battle to eradicate poverty. As times are challenging due to threats to our national security, our unity and hard work is needed more than ever.

 

Closure of Consulate Will Not Undermine Valuable Role of Eritrean-Americans

From shabait.com

Commentary
Closure of Consulate Will Not Undermine Valuable Role of Eritrean-Americans
By Rahel Weldeab
Oct 1, 2007, 14:04

The current times can seem challenging for those Eritreans living broad, especially in the United States, when it comes to the constant smear campaigns against their country of origin. Today’s lead example is the closing of the Eritrean Consulate in Oakland, California which officially happened on 1 October 2007. As Assistant Secretary for African Affairs to the United States, Jendayi Frazer, continues to show her ill-will towards the Eritrean people, she says that the closing of the Eritrean Consulate is ‘absolutely a reciprocal action.’ The anticipated outcome (according to her): to negatively impact Eritrea’s ability to collect money from the Eritrean community. She claims that the remittances that Eritrean-Americans send to help their families in Eritrea and to trust funds, such as the Martyrs’ family fund, is ‘to get weapons and to train fighters to go into Somalia.’

Smear campaigns launched by the US Administration has always been used to undermine Eritrea’s sovereignty and its right to peace and development. She thinks that such baseless accusations will make Eritrea kneel down to US interests in the region. However, as previous smear campaigns have not made Eritrea kneel down, she thinks that scaring Eritrean-Americans by talks of Eritrea shipping arms to Somalia, Eritrea supporting terrorists, and the threat of putting Eritrea on the ‘State Sponsors of Terrorists List’ will bring the 16 year old country to her knees.

Why such efforts from the American side? The reason is they find the resilience, perseverance, and steadfastness of the Eritrean people stressing. For the US Administration to target Eritrean-Americans is not something of a surprise; it is an open secret that they strategically target the Eritrean Diaspora in an effort to use them to pressure the Government of Eritrea to do its bidding. But nobody really expected for things to go this far.

By this far, I do not mean the closing of the Consulate Office, but rather Frazer’s words that completely undermine the citizenship of Eritrean-Americans. Most of the Eritreans she refers to are law biding, tax paying citizens who have lived in the United States for more than 30 years, and with such comments as ‘Eritreans living in our country’ and ‘Eritreans who are living in the United States,’ she unilaterally denies their constitutional rights as American citizens. In fact, the closing of the Consulate does this as well. It is the right of Eritrean Americans to benefit from the services of the Consulate Office, as it is the right of every other community living in the US. However, it is assumed that closing the Consulate will ‘send a message to the Eritrean Government.’

Well Ms. Frazer, there is no need to send a message to the Eritrean Government; such messages have been sent in the past and so it is nothing new – it will not pressure the Government to make ‘significant changes.’ What you should keep in mind, however, is that closing the Consulate Office will not separate the people of Eritrea from their country.

Whether you accept it or not, you should know that every Eritrean living abroad is his/her country’s ambassador. There is no power that can change the love and unity Eritrean Americans feel towards their country and people.

Yes, the Eritrean people are the reliable source of national economic development and the participation of Eritreans in the Diaspora is vital in building of a strong economy. But attacking Eritrean Americans will not obstruct Eritrea’s economic development. Eritrea’s efforts to ensuring an independent and sovereign nation, and her efforts to be the master of her decisions within the framework of dynamic global development, will not adhere to Frazer’s smear campaigns. Rather, it will only make Eritrea and her people stronger.

Frazer’s words and actions portray her belief that by attacking Eritrean Americans, the Eritrean Diaspora, as it is a source of significant remittances, will be able to influence the Eritrean Government. Little does she knows, this money doesn’t go to the Government but to the families of Eritrean Americans. More importantly, however, she doesn’t realize that as Eritrea loathes violence and terrorism, the Government of Eritrea can prove to be the most reliable partner in the war against terrorism. Eritrea’s foreign policy prioritizes the fostering of cooperative partnership as well as partnership programs in trade and investment. Moreover, Eritrea strives to ensure reliable regional peace through steadfastly overcoming any hostilities designed to pose obstacles to this end, including terrorism.

Things are getting tense in the Horn of Africa, whether referring to what is happening in Somalia, Darfur, or even within the borders of Ethiopia. The important role Eritrea has played and continues to play in bringing peace and security to the Horn is undeniable. Good relations between the United States and Eritrea can be enhanced if the US Administration plays its role in pressuring Ethiopia to cooperate and allow for the Eritrea-Ethiopia border to be demarcated according to the EEBC’s final and binding ruling. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that the US Administration reviews its foreign policy towards the Horn of Africa; by supporting Ethiopia as an anti-terror ally, they only encourage Ethiopia to take aggressive action against Eritrea. The US Administration’s obsession with counter-terrorism in the Horn of Africa should not undermine efforts to bring stability to the Horn.

The rights of Eritrean Americans have to be respected. As the Consulate closes, the valuable role that Eritrean Americans play as ambassadors to their country will not perish. Therefore, it is advisable that the US Administration stops attacking Eritrean Americans and, therefore, stops attacking Eritrea. There is much to be gained from Eritrea-US relations if the United States would recognize Eritrea as a vital partner towards the war on terrorism.

 

The Tax we pay cannot be used to kill Our People

 

Written by Rahel Weldeab
Saturday, 15 September 2007

A new chapter of history has opened for the Somali people and the message is loud and clear: “The tax we pay cannot be used to kill our people.” Those from the outside tend to think that the problems within Somalia are just inside the Somali borders; they do not realize that the victims are also their Somali colleagues, neighbors, and classmates. Due to years of war and unrest, there are many Somali immigrants living in North America and Europe. With hope of finding a sustainable solution to the Somali issue, members of the Somali Diaspora have come to Asmara, Eritrea to participate in the Somali Congress for Liberation and Reconstitution.

The aim of this congress is to form a coalition that represents the entire Somali people and serves their interests, to liberate Somalia from the current invasion of the TPLF regime (Ethiopia), to organize a forum of national reconstitution, and to ensure Somalia’s reconstitution. This congress will create a reliable ground for the Somali people to work hand-in-hand to liberate and bring sustainable peace, security, and development to the Somali nation.

There were a lot of emotions during the opening session of the Congress as many participants, despite their gender and age, couldn’t hold back their tears as they heard the opening remarks. Since after the down fall of the Said Barre dictatorship, Somalia experienced 15 years of insecurity until July 2006, when the Union of Islamic Courts took control of Mogadishu from the warlords who controlled the capital city. As quoted by Al-Amin Mohammed Said, Secretary of the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ-Eritrea ), “… the development did not occur by the magic wand of the UIC only, but because it was the choice and wish of the Somali people as well.”

Despite this, however, such developments that indeed deserved the support of all peace-loving forces were crippled by the open invasion of the Meles regime with the collaboration of the US Administration, as Al-Amin elaborated.

“We are Not Terrorists!”

Smear campaigns have been launched by Ethiopia and the United States, saying that Somalia has terrorists and members of Al-Qaeda; one terrorist has yet to be found in Somalia. During the opening session of the congress, the participants made this loud and clear by chanting “ We are not terrorists.” What the West tends to forget is that the people want peace and security and, therefore, will not and cannot support terrorists. And as Mohamoud Ahmed Nur, a member of the Somali Diaspora, said during his opening remark, “Somalis will not support terrorists to harm their fellow citizens in North America, Europe, or for in any other part of the world.”

Very few members of the diplomatic corps based in Asmara attended the opening session of the Congress, despite the importance of this event; it is expected to create a real, sustainable platform for the liberation and reconstitution of Somalia. Such benefits could not only benefit Somalia, but the Horn of Africa as a whole and, therefore, one would think that the diplomatic corps would be interested to see what the Somali people have to say. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The reasons for this vary, the more prominent reason being the fact that the UIC, labeled as Islamic fundamentalists, is participating in the Congress. Little do they know that the UIC is only part of the Congress. This Congress represents different social groups of the Somali society, including members of the Somali Diaspora, clan heads, intellectuals, community elders, and religious leaders. More importantly, the political platform to be created as a result of this Congress will be decided from the resulting leadership, and not the UIC.

It has become clear that the United States needs to change its policies towards the Horn of Africa not only because it is creating even more conflicts and instability, but also because the US has a responsibility to protect the interests of its own citizens. There are Somali communities all over the United States and it is their right to say that they do not want to be treated like second-class citizens nor do they want their tax dollars to finance the killings and rapes occurring in Somalia, in the hands of the invading Ethiopian forces.

It shall be recalled that the US State Department has ordered the closure of the Eritrean Consulate in Oakland for what was wrongly labeled as ‘reciprocal action.’ Ms. Jendayi Frazer, the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, thinks that this action is directed to the Government of Eritrea, when in fact it is directed to Eritrean citizens residing in the United States .

The following is the statement passed out to the audience during the opening session of the congress:

Diaspora’s Position in the Current Situation in Somalia

* Ethiopian occupation forces cause death, destruction, and displaced more than half a million people from Mogadishu.
* Ethiopian occupation forces have committed and still are committing genocide and crime against humanity.
* TFG leadership and its militias are also committing systematic destruction of the infrastructure and economic areas in Mogadishu.
* The Ethiopian government and its scrooges are blocking relief from international donors to reach the displaced people.
* TFG militias are looting and raping civilians on a daily basis
* We demand from the international community to bring the perpetrators of horrific crimes and genocides in Somalia to the international criminal court.
* Under no circumstances reconciliation can take place under the presence of Ethiopian troops
* The so-called Somali National Reconciliation Congress is void and has not legitimacy.

Diaspora and Its Importance in the Struggle for Liberation

* The financial muscle and political influence of the Diaspora and its contribution to the economy of the country is estimated about one billion dollars in remittance.
* [The] Diaspora is the lifeline of our beloved country:

– The political influence that the Diaspora has in their respective countries
– The skills and experiences of the Diaspora is crucial to the country’s reconstitution and rebuilding and economic recovery
– [The] number of Somalis in the Diaspora i.e. Europe (the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Sweden, Holland, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, and Italy), the United States and Canada, Australia and New Zealand

Message to Our Adopted Countries

* We are citizens of the European Union, North America. We are tax payers and we demand the right of protection of our interest in Somalia
* We cannot support terrorists to harm our fellow citizens in Europe and North America or any part of the world; however, Ethiopians are killing our families, destroying our properties, raping our sisters and mothers, with the help of our taxes that are governments are giving in the form of aid and that aid is procured with military hardware.
* No support for any government that does not have the legitimacy to govern the country, that does not gain the confidence of its people.
* Somali Diaspora cannot and will not support any Somali government that will not respect human rights, free press, and free expression.
* No support for any government that does not respect the rule of law and denies justice to its people
* We support ONLY good governance
* We demand justice for the victims of Mele’s military machine and we want to see him tried for crimes against humanity.

Message to Our Somali Brothers and Sisters in the Country

* Our people should unite against the Ethiopian occupation and should fully participate in the liberation of our homeland
* Our people should free themselves from the narrow agenda of warlords and criminals that are holding us back
* We should be free from clanism as it is the real barrier to the reconstitution of our nation
* Somalis should trust each other
* Somali people should respect each other and accept one another
* We need to understand that the existence of our nation is at sake
* The intention of Ethiopia is to divide us into clans, sub-clans, regions, and districts that cannot talk to each other but only through Ethiopian military officers as it is happening in Mogadishu at present.
* Finally, the struggle to the liberation of the country should start in every corner, every district, and every street.

What we Expect from this Conference

What we expect is not different than what all Somali people expect wherever they are.

* An organization that represents the interests of our nation; that uphold and defend the sovereignty and national unity of our country
* An organization that can liberate our country from the Ethiopian occupation
* An organization that can address the basic needs of our people
* An organization that promotes justice and freedom among its citizens
* An organization that can lead its people to sustainable development and live with its neighbors in peace.

Long live Somalia!
Long live Eritrea!
Long live Somalia!
Down Ethiopia, Down Meles and his brutal regime!

 

NUEYS and SYC Statement on the Occasion of International Day of Peace

 

Although this is a joint statement that was signed by both organizations, I drafted this document. It was published on the Eritrea Profile (national newspaper), Biddho.com, and other websites.

NUEYS and SYC Statement on the Occasion of International Day of Peace

Written by NUEYS and SYC
Friday, 21 September 2007

Joint Statement by The National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students (NUEYS)
And The Somali Youth Congress (SYC)

On the Occasion of
International Day of Peace

Asmara, 21 September 2007

The Horn of Africa is a region that has seldom witnessed peace, mostly due to the effects of neo-imperialism. As a result of the lack of peace and security, conditions for development in the Horn have been impaired. Therefore, we can say that to make sustainable development a reality, there has to be sustainable peace. Moreover, if we wish to see sustainable peace in the Horn of Africa, then we have to challenge the neo-colonial agents that systematically breed conflicts into the region.

It is a known fact that, in all parts of the world, young people are the offenders and victims of war and conflict, more than any other age demographic group. Therefore, the youth are the lead stakeholders when it comes to peacebuilding and conflict prevention. We declare that we, the members of the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students (NUEYS) and the Somali Youth Congress (SYC), are ready and able to play a positive role in bringing peace to our region. The people of the Horn, in particular the youth, have made their desire and aspirations clear and they expect to fulfill their choice and, above all, reject outside intervention that undermines their peace efforts.

Invasion can only bring about destruction and chaos. Political problems can only be solved through political means, and hence outside intervention should be avoided. With the emotional decisions of some parties that are clouding the foreground, however, this appeal has been given a deaf ear. And obviously, the situation is leading to protracted war and not reconciliation. Therefore, we condemn the invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia. As Africans challenge neo-colonialism, African countries should not colonize other African countries. We are all brothers and sisters in our struggle for peace and sustainable development, and therefore, we should all work together for peace and sustainable development instead of breeding conflict.

It isn’t that the people of the Horn are incapable of fixing their own problems; it has already been done. The creation of participatory grounds for all parties concerned, as well as the grounds to solving internal political challenges by ourselves, is what can ensure progressive action towards peace and development. Examples of this are the Asmara Peace Agreement signed by the Sudanese Government of National Unity and the East Sudan Front, and the Somali Congress for Liberation and Reconstitution. Such initiatives send out a clear and exemplary message that ‘the problems of Africans can be solved by Africans themselves.’ Let the voices of the youth be heard as they know their problems and, therefore, are able to solve them.

It has become apparent that the AU, the UN, IGAD, and other major actors exacerbate and make conflicts sustainable because, instead of listening to the voices of the masses, they protect the interests of major powers. ‘Mediation’ has become a form of trade and minority interest groups do not think twice about dragging around reconciliation processes for years on end in order to suit their own interest. There are some nations, pursuing domination policies, which gain benefits as problems in the world multiply and escalate. So it would not be an exaggeration to say that prolonging conflict resolution processes has become a lucrative business. Even the regional and international organizations that were founded to secure peace and stability have been transformed into mere extensions or appendages of the offices of major powers that represent the interests of a sole superpower. We declare that we are willing and able to create partnerships within ourselves to promote real sustainable peace. We also demand that the international community hold their responsibility when they are involved in peace processes. The international community, especially the co-signers of the Algiers Peace Agreement, should put more pressure on Ethiopia to abide by the final and binding decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC).

We believe that the youth of the Horn of Africa are not pond pieces on the chessboard of power politics. We are working hard to have peace, security, and sustainable development in our region, and therefore, condemn any initiatives that undermine our struggle, especially if such an initiative wishes to work against us.

This does not mean that the struggle of the youth of the Horn of Africa should be in isolation. On the contrary, our movement for peace and development is a vital part of the global youth movement. The principle motivation for us to advocate for peace, security, and development in the Horn of Africa, in solidarity with young people all over the world, is the knowledge that peace and security is necessary for democracy, social justice, and development to prevail. Therefore, as members of the international youth movement, determined to strive for a better world in which humankind will fully emancipate itself, the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students (NUEYS) and the Somali Youth Congress (SYC) declare that we will work together to bring peace, security, and sustainable development to our region. Moreover, we declare that we will work together to develop our youth movements in an effort to build versatile youth leaders in the Horn of Africa.

We are the future!

Victory to the global youth movement for peace and sustainable development.
Long live the friendship of the people of Somalia and Eritrea.
Victory to the people of the Horn of Africa!

Victory to the Masses!

 

Civil Society Should Also Participate in Attaining Food Security!

From Shaebia.org

Contributed Articles
Civil Society Should Also Participate in Attaining Food Security!
By Rahel Weldeab
Jan 13, 2006, 8:56am

Food security is a priority issue for the people and government of the State of Eritrea for many good reasons. Domestic food production can feed three-fourths of the population in normal/good years while it can only feed one-fourth of the population in years of drought. More importantly, more than 75% of the Eritrean population is engaged in agricultural activities to sustain their livelihoods. Therefore, it can be easily understood that attaining food security can not only feed the population but also it can be made to create sustainable rural development and reduce poverty to an overwhelming extent. Agricultural development is crucial for national development and a prerequisite for rural development, as it determines not only the livelihood of the majority of the population but also the future of the economy as a whole.

This week, an in-depth discussion on attaining food security took place in Asmara attended by the Cabinet of Ministers, Regional Administrators, Army Commanders, heads of the PFDJ, and national construction companies. It was agreed that ensuring food security is not just about agricultural activities but also falls within the framework of Eritrea�s macro policy.

Agricultural development in an attempt to attain food security should form the foundation of national development and, therefore, it is of paramount importance that government structures, at all levels, should cooperate and coordinate their activities towards achieving the goal of food security. But does civil society have a role in this?

Although sustainable rural development should start at community level, the role of the government in rural development cannot be overlooked. This is particularly true when it comes to food security because the problem is not at the community level but also at a national level. Moreover, it is at the central level that policies and strategies for food security are formulated. Therefore, especially in the case of Eritrea, rural development does not just include development projects in rural areas but also capacity building and institutional management initiatives for the government to make affective policies, strategies, programs, and projects for food security and sustainable rural development. If the government does not have the proper capacity for this, one could definitely question the capacity at community level.

However, community level participation is a must. For the government to attempt to transform traditional agriculture, it must recognize that in addition to adopting the farm structure to meet the demand for increased production, profound changes affecting the entire social, political, and institutional structure of rural societies will often be necessary. More importantly, agricultural development is a broad notion encompassing all important issues pertinent to the collective vitality of rural people and places; it should be a strategy designed to improve the economic and social welfare of the rural poor and to make the process of development self-sustaining. So, for there to be sustainable agricultural development for food security, it is important that the skills, awareness, knowledge, and motivation of local people be developed so that they can participate in development activities. Also there is a need to develop effective and equitable institution management systems that contribute to economic development which respect the conservation of natural, man-made, and human resources.

Having said that civil society can play a vital role in the battle to attain food security, it is not only the government but also the people of Eritrea who have the principal task of confronting this challenge. However, with the lack of proper capacity and institution management, it can be extremely difficult. Fortunately, with the cooperation of civil society, institutions and local NGOs, a lot of necessary assistance can be given.

By including civil society, utilizing their ability to reach the grassroots level, we can expect positive and high-impact results that will bring us closer to reaching our goal to be self-reliant.

The social whole is more than the sum of its individual components. Cooperation for mutual benefit, or ‘social capital’ has never failed the people of Eritrea. By including organizations like the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students (NUEYS) and the National Union of Eritrean Women (NUEW), a framework for attaining food security, that supports the process of learning through interaction, and that enables the formation of networking paths can be established. Civil society organizations can campaign in local communities and work on increasing their capacity so that they can actively participate in this noble development endeavor.

Agriculture, like many other development areas, has been seriously affected by the recent border conflict, which displaced farmers, reduced crop production, reduced livestock numbers, and destroyed support services. But by utilizing our social capital, we can be more effective in addressing external constraints. Moreover, investment in social capital yields high returns. By including civil society in the battle to attain food security, we can create networks that link people to resources, ideas, and promote communication and collaboration. Networks that connect the community to broader regional and national efforts can bring in new resources and share local innovation to stimulate broader political and economic change.

Some examples of ways to create sustainable agriculture development include training programs in information and communication technology for the ‘excluded’ people, capacity building in the voluntary and community sectors, and promoting community sectors, structures, and systems of management for more appropriate use of resources in a sustainable way.

Some examples of ways young people can participate in the campaign to attain food security include making incentives and programs available to young people in rural areas, offering farming programs to young people, and promoting urban-rural youth linkages through innovative ways. We can also develop youth skills by making available to them programs that can improve their skills in agricultural production and marketing, training programs for youth in rural areas that are linked with food production and the achievement of food security, and by organizing direct-marketing groups, including production and distribution cooperatives.

 

Cooperative Approaches to Peace Cannot Undermine the Rule of Law

From Shaebia.org

Contributed Articles
Cooperative Approaches to Peace Cannot Undermine the Rule of Law
By Rahel Weldeab
Mar 30, 2006, 5:00pm

There is a serious need for ‘peace culture’ to take root in Africa in which divergent views and interests coexist in a manner that reinforces a common good and transforms conflicts into positive peace-building. Peace-building and conflict management initiatives are part and parcel of initiatives that enhance development, justice, and reconciliation, things that the people of the Horn of Africa need but have yet to experience.

In a world of continuous instability and violence, the implementation of cooperative approaches for peace and security are urgently needed. Such a cooperative approach for the Horn of Africa could come from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), particularly because most of the member states of IGAD are from the Horn of Africa, a region that has seldom experienced sustained peace.

IGAD has an important role to play in conflict prevention, management, and resolution through its Peace and Security Division. The long-term objectives of this body are to ensure that there is security in the sub-region so that economic development can take place…a goal that IGAD member states have had for a long time and have yet to find a solution.

Peace and security was of course one of the prime issues in the 11th IGAD summit that has just convened in Nairobi. A visiting EU Commissioner for Development even proposed a regional pact for stability, security, and development in the Horn, citing the EU’s own history of conflict and the development of a European political forum for peace. It’s a good example as to how a cooperative, regional approach can bring peace and economic development at regional level. But can we say that the time has come for the Horn of Africa to develop such a political forum? This is a good question but I would like to think that it is possible…except that there is one huge drawback: the rule of law doesn’t seem to have any credibility in the Horn. In other words, in the Horn, what has been defined as ‘just’ by the highest international judicial court can be simultaneously called ‘unjust, illegal,’ in crises, and acceptable in principle but not in its entirety. This is unfortunately the case when it comes to the Eritrea-Ethiopia border issue.

Will IGAD play a prominent role in pressuring Ethiopia to finally cooperate to demarcate the border according to the EEBC ruling? Well, it doesn’t look too promising. Bloated political comments, like that of Kibaki of Kenya, will certainly not usher sustainable peace between the two neighbors. What did he have to say on this issue? “Kenya firmly believes that dialogue is the only effective way of easing tensions as the first step toward the peaceful settlement of the cross-border dispute” (AP African leaders review peace efforts March 20 2006).

Sorry Mr. Kibaki, but what is there to dialogue about? The delimitation decision of the commission is final and binding. Moreover, if Ethiopia is allowed to scuttle the peace process, as it has been doing for more than 3 years by claiming there needs to be dialogue, the sanctity of all of Africa’s colonial borders can be put to the test. Supporting the stance of the TPLF regime is like saying the inviolability of treaties and arbitration mechanisms can be compromised.

Any cooperative approach to peace, let it be from IGAD, the EU, or anyone else interested in seeing sustainable peace in the Horn of Africa, cannot undermine the rule of law. Any diplomatic effort, however well-intentioned, that attempts to shift the legal jurisdiction of the case from the Boundary Commission to some other body will not only be stillborn but also laden with grave legal consequences. Recourse was made to legal arbitration through the Algiers Peace Agreement after a costly war because it was not possible to resolve the dispute through normal diplomatic means. The international community therefore, cannot reverse the whole process by asking Eritrea to go back to square one and embark on a ‘new mechanism’ simply in order to appease the violating party.

In addition, any cooperative approach cannot expect Eritrea to ‘dialogue’. Dialogue is a very important tool when it comes to peace-building but such an initiative can only take place after the border has been demarcated. This is because so much distrust has been created towards the non-implementing party as a result of the border not being demarcated yet. The longer it takes to demarcate the border, the more distrust it will create. Moreover, if the EEBC decision, in all of its legality, sophistication, detail, and having guarantors among the most powerful in the world, cannot be respected, then what can guarantee that any future agreement is going to be respected or implemented?

Since independence, and especially at the time the PFDJ reformulated its priorities to combat post-independence challenges, it has been the clear vision of the State of Eritrea and its people that ‘Eritrea would become a respected member of the international community, by coexisting in harmony and cooperation with its neighbors; and by contributing, to the extent of its capability, to regional and global peace, security, and development’ (PFDJ National Charter 1994). This vision is one that the people and government of the State of Eritrea takes very seriously.

Unfortunately, our neighbor does not take peace, security, and development seriously at all. A clear example of this is Meles’ Five-Point Peace Proposal. With this fictitious, jargonizing proposal, the TPLF regime has once again retreated to its strategy of attempting to nullify the Algiers Peace Agreement. The TPLF regime had the audacity to say that their peace proposal is the most realistic roadmap for peace and that it attended the last EEBC meeting in London because it was consistent with its five-point peace proposal. This peace proposal, which was forgotten since it was published late 2004 and which none of the guarantors of the Algiers peace agreement dared to support, is not only unrealistic but also an utter joke. The people of the Horn, however, do not think that peace is something to laugh about.

 

International Women’s Day: Let’s Celebrate Young Eritrean Women Too!

From Shaebia.org

Contributed Articles
International Women’s Day: Let’s Celebrate Young Eritrean Women Too!
By Rahel Weldeab
Mar 10, 2006, 8:41am

Independence became a reality due to the nationalistic feelings felt by the unified people of Eritrea. Eritreans from all ethnic groups, all religions, and of both sexes shared the vision of a sovereign Eritrea and it was here that equality despite ethnicity, religion, and gender flowered among the people of Eritrea. The one group that benefited most by the principle of equality advocated by the EPLF was the women of Eritrea. Women were oppressed to a great extent because of backward cultural thinking but, during the liberation struggle, they demonstrated their worth by actively participating in the battle for independence. Fully 30% of the combatants were women and they made a major contribution in the social, economic, political, and psychological reforms within the traditional society and, therefore, created and maintained the foundation for gender equality in Eritrea today.

However, following independence, gender equality and the women’s movement had the post-independence challenges awaiting them. The die-hard drive to realize independence gave way to nation building. Moreover, gender equality had to reach and be appreciated by all Eritreans and not just those who directly participated in the liberation struggle. A large portion of the population still didn’t believe in the rights of women.

Women have to cope with the persistent burden of poverty, unequal access to education and health care, violence, inequality, stereotyping, etc. To address these problems means to address the problems of half of the people in Eritrea since women make up 50% of the population. Even more, women feel and suffer from all problems faced by the society. For this reason, it is clear that addressing gender issues is very important for the overall development of Eritrea. It is not only a matter of human rights but safeguarding national sovereignty and promoting development.

There is a strong commitment and political will on the part of the Government of the State of Eritrea, which provides a supportive environment for gender equality. This is demonstrated in the adoption of legislation that guarantees women’s equality and rights. Such support for gender equality is very much visible in the Eritrean Constitution, the National Charter, the Macro Policy of Eritrea, and the Transitional Code of Eritrea. Monitoring of policy plans and projects for gender equality have shown successful results in all fields but to say that the problem of women inequality is solved or will be solved in the near future would be incorrect. Even in developed countries, women still have to deal with discrimination and inequality. Eritrea’s policies are working and it is improving the living standards of women. However, when it comes to the application of the legal provisions set by the Government, a lot of limitations are encountered due to the fact that tradition based attitudes still exist. In other words, our culture very often is discriminatory and does not allow women to have equal status or footing with men.

The young generation, however, usually looks beyond such cultural discriminations. With the rise of educated young Eritrean women, it can be anticipated that the society will come to appreciate the potential of women. We have young women making a difference in all sectors. Moreover, young women can play a pivotal role in actively campaigning for gender equality. Unfortunately, little is being done to organize these young women. The unintended consequence of this is that the women’s movement of Eritrea seems to be disappearing.

Being a young Eritrean woman today is by far better than being one during our grandmothers’ time and even during our mothers’ time. They were subjected to much more gender inequality than we and they worked very hard for us to have the freedoms and opportunities that we enjoy today. But to say that the battle is over is too naïve to even contemplate. If anything, we have more responsibility to carry on the women’s movement now that our mothers have started it for us. We can even argue that we have more responsibilities than they did. But should we take it as a burden?

When I write about the impressions of a young Eritrean woman, I am talking from the perspective of an active advocate for gender equality. So, the responsibility of continuing the women’s movement is clearly one that I have already embraced. Knowing that so many women have spilled their blood during the liberation struggle for me to have such opportunities, it is surly not a responsibility I can ignore.

But how does someone carry out their responsibility without having the opportunity to do so? In other words, how can we contribute to the women’s when we really aren’t part of it? For most of us, it is our mothers who are part of the National Union of Eritrean Women (NUEW) and not us. If young women are not joining the women’s movement, then it can be expected that the women’s movement would eventually fade out of existence. Do young women need their own association? Are we being heard in our homes and our work places? Does the society celebrate the achievements of young women on International Women’s Day?

March 8 is International Women’s Day and Eritrean communities all over the world are celebrating this important day with much jubilee. Most festivities are directed to celebrating mothers. The Eritrean mother has given so much for Eritrea, there is no reason to question why we should celebrate their achievements. Women’s day for Eritrea also means a celebration of the women who participated and died in the liberation struggle. But how about the achievements of young women? How about those young women who died defending the country’s sovereignty during the border conflict? Are we promoting young women role models to our daughters when we celebrate women’s day? To me it is obvious that as we celebrate Women’s Day, we must re-new our commitment to promoting gender equality especially for the young generation of Eritrean women and with their active participation.

Gender equality is not just the job of the government; in the end, it is the society who accepts women equality, their empowerment, and their development. The government of Eritrea has a clear and effective plan but until the society acknowledges women’s rights, women equality cannot be realized. Participation of women needs to be enhanced in all sectors. All efforts to do so have to include young women and take into consideration their interests and needs. It has to be known that the interests and needs of young women are different than that of older women.

As a young woman very concerned about issues regarding her country, I have to play my own role before anybody else can do it for me. That means empowering myself with knowledge and by playing an active role in gender mainstreaming campaigns. Of course, I would have to have the confidence to do so. But that shouldn’t be too hard; my foremothers were confident enough to spill their blood for it.

 

Effective Methods for NGOs

From Shaebia.org

Contributed Articles
Effective Methods for NGOs
By Rahel Weldeab
Dec 9, 2005, 5:00pm

The functions of most development organizations have been in support of direct humanitarian purposes, based on a variety of interpretations of what comprise human needs, and broad awareness of goals through education, training, research, public conferences, and media mechanisms. These goals have frequently gone against those identified by developing countries and consequently, development initiatives have often failed because of wrong interpretations and hidden interests of donors. There are new and enhanced approaches to development as more experience in development is acquired. But the question is: have NGOs learned from opportunities lost due to ethnocentric, western ideals after working in developing countries? This is unlikely, as the divide between the North and the South have become more extreme.

The term development in itself is a debatable concept. However, it is of vital importance that one definition of development, one that contains an approach needed for sustainable development for least developed countries (LDCs) is agreed upon. For international NGOs in developing countries, development has evolved to imply four major ideas. None of these ideas can or should be understood in isolation from the others:

1. Development is a long-term concept
2. Development must generate some short-term benefits as well as long term gains, in view of the pressures to provide very basic needs
3. Development must be culturally accepted and not be viewed as implanted from outside on some take it or leave it basis
4. Development implies the independence and strength of the specific international NGO itself. That is, there should be considerable independence from the head quarter office abroad.

It has become even more apparent from the growing range of experiences in development cooperation that clearer ground rules are badly needed for more effective emergency, recovery, reintegration, rehabilitation, and development projects. Several reasons might explain this need. They would include the fact that:

1. Many work in complex political environments. Great sensitivity has to be shown in relating to the authorities. Personnel coming from outside frequently are unaware of the complications of getting things effectively done in such alien settings.
2. Many Western development agencies and NGOs have very little ‘Third World exposure’ and send delegates in a frequently most inappropriate manner, not recognizing that they could undermine rather than help strengthen local capacities unless very sensitive to local needs and customs.
3. Western approaches are frequently inappropriate for problems of developing countries, given local cultures, economic circumstances, and so on.

Ground rules for development should always compliment the aspirations of the people. The vision of development and prosperity shared by the people of Eritrea is clearly stated in the PFDJ National Charter. It mentions the decisive role of human factor and the importance of self-reliance. Such principles cannot be ignored when developing development programs and projects in Eritrea for the very reason that development should be for, of, and by the people of Eritrea, International NGOs, despite their funds, must respect this if they wish to operate in Eritrea.

Upon gaining independence, hopes were high. Unfortunately, old exploiters were replaced by new ones. Moreover, national economies and the people standard of living deteriorated and continue to do so to this day. Fortunately, Eritrea is not condemned to repeat such mistakes. By sticking to our values and principles of self-reliance and human development, and by being vigilant with our development policy, Eritrea will develop herself in a sustainable way.

For true sustainable development to take place, there are some approaches or techniques that should be practiced, especially when it comes to promoting capacity for sustainable development. Also, a proper development policy should be put in place. This policy should assess the needs of the people and suggest a strategy for efficient and effective coordination of resources. Some approaches that can and should be incorporated in the development strategies of international NGOs include:

  • Local ownership and sustainability as vital factors for capacity development
  • Cooperation should have a supporting role for development that fits country-specific conditions
  • There should be a long term commitment for capacity development
  • Cooperation should strengthen the public sector
  • Cooperation efforts should move toward program approaches instead of just project approaches.

There is a significant co-relation between ownership and sustainability because when there is ownership, there is usually commitment on the side of the partner country and this commitment, shown in their willingness and effort to prepare personnel as well as financial resources, will increase the level of sustainability. Ownership is essential to the decision making process for initiating technical cooperation. Furthermore, a proposal for technical cooperation should be in line with the national development policy of the partner country.

NGOs should play a supporting role in development as the future path of development lies in the hands of the partner country, and not in those of the NGO. Initiatives must originate from the partner country, and the donor agency should try to support such initiatives. Experts working for NGOs may and should be used but their role should be to provide technical guidance and advice, and to strengthen existing mechanisms with government staff from the partner country.

To have an impact on the overall development of a partner country, NGOs should focus more on capacity building on a long-term basis. This is because it usually takes time for positive behavioral and systematic changes to take place. Its frame of development should work beyond the realm of purely technical areas and it should support a partner country in strengthening the mechanisms of decision-making processes, promoting the participation of different levels of stakeholders, and producing people-centered development and positive behavioral changes. At the same time, it is also important to set a goal to be result-oriented from a viewpoint of cost effectiveness when providing technical cooperation.

Effort should increase to produce a greater impact on a specific sector of a partner country by employing program approaches. Project-level cooperation is still relevant, especially in terms of producing results within a limited time frame. At the same time, clear definitions of overall sectoral goals should provide direction to select areas where resources would be concentrated. For instance, if a group of individual projects contributes to the same development goals of a specific area that needs development assistance, then the impact on that area will become greater. The development agency should set out development goals that support the national development policy of the partner country, and should gradually try to concentrate its resources on achieving those goals through projects aligned under the umbrella of a program.

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