Conference name, dates, place

2007 International Conference on Ethiopian Development Studies (4th ICEDS) A Multidisciplinary Conference on the Challenges of Peace and Development in Ethiopia & the Horn of Africa, held in Kalamazoo, Michigan (WMU), August 2-4, 2007

Document Type


Presentation Date



Why we Ethiopians are celebrated for unforgettable images of chronically malnourished children with large skeletal heads clinging to their mothers dried up breasts? Why we are still forced to seek for food aid when there is ample local potential to feed ourselves? Why does drought, famine return almost every decade in Ethiopia? The paper attempts to demonstrate convincingly that Ethiopian droughts and famines are not sudden natural disasters nor are they simply caused by lack of rainfall. It tries to show the weaknesses of successive strategic development related policies intended to reverse the situation which considered and treated natural factors specially rainfall and external financial assistance as constant factors. The paper attempts to elucidate the weaknesses of farmers to allocate reasonable time and resources to work in the farm. It also tries to show the impacts of farmers’ health and nutritional status on their productivity and efficiency. In order to identify the various political, religious, economic, cultural, and educational, land, and policy factors that hampered agricultural productivity, selected farmers and development workers (community, health) were interviewed. Besides, relevant literature was consulted. The study results reveal that almost all of Northern Ethiopian farmers were unable to empower themselves since they are tied by the strong twin forces of traditional religious practices and cultural taboos. Surprisingly, from among the thirty days of a month farmers spent almost ten to fifteen days for religious and cultural practices. It is also ascertained that most farmers have assumed and even accepted food aid as the only or in many cases the most efficient means of addressing food security. Results also indicate the subsequent failure of policy makers to understand the real situations about farmers. The paper attempts to recommend various key points to enhance agricultural productivity in Ethiopia in general and to empower farmers of Northern Ethiopia in particular.