Impressions of Ethiopia – women, economy & climate change

I am on a month long work-exchange in Ethiopia, working with the Food Security team here at the Dutch Embassy in Addis Ababa.

I don’t know what I expected to be very honest but if I had any expectation, Ethiopia has certainly exceeded all of them. My first impression of Addis Ababa was that it’s huge!!! It’s a big city, spread out in what appears to be a valley or several valleys connected together. But with a population of 4 to 5 million, for a Bangladeshi like me, it’s very sparsely populated 🙂

The roads are busy but there’s none of the incessant honking that drives people crazy in Dhaka traffic. And I find that it’s pretty representative of the people here ….. Ethiopian’s are quiet, reserved people, very dignified & proud in their heritage (and absolutely rightly so). Unfailingly cordial and extremely polite, unlike the Bangalis they keep their nose out of other people’s business. One foot in the past – a long glorious heritage, yet one planted firmly towards the future – in progress for everyone. Though deeply religious, women here do enjoy a different kind of freedom.

What that freedom means on a day to day basis is that it’s absolutely possible to have peace & quiet in the middle of a crowd. You can sit quietly in a cafe and enjoy the view without being gawked at, commented at or imposed on in any manner. You can walk down the busy roads without people bumping into you every few feet. And as a woman I feel more comfortable & safer here then in my own country. Ethiopians also have more women parliamentarians then Bangladesh & the labour force participation is significantly higher.

Before I came, I read up on Ethiopia and was impressed by the fact that this country has never been colonised. I expected this to mean something, but exactly what, I couldn’t have said. Now that I am here, I do see the difference between a population colonised vs. a population who were always the master of their own destiny. Even though Ethiopians are very polite, you can tell that the color of one’s skin doesn’t impress here. In former colonies there’s a tendency to idolise white skin people, to give more attention, to try to impress, to cater to, we have not gotten over the ‘white master’ syndrome. If a native person makes a suggestion or give advice, we might shake it off BUT if a white person makes the same, people trip over each other trying to be the first ones to take it. It’s frustrating because it sidelines the suggestion & advice of people who know their country best AND has its best interest at heart. Here, the Ethiopians are very nationalistic & while they are open to advice, they also make it a point to accept suggestions on their own terms, in their own time. Sure it slows things down but it also means that local ownership is high. Which after all is more important in order for development activities to be sustainable.

The previous Prime Minister made a very public declaration that Ethiopia will pursue a climate resilient green economy. A tall order but a very commendable one. While the understanding of climate change, its negative impact on environment & stress on the livelihood of the population varies among various professional, the attention though continues to impress me. As the Native Americans say “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”. In our pursuit for economic growth we tend to compromise on that, and perhaps some compromise is inevitable, a trade-off if you will, at least here the choices are being looked at & deliberated on more vigorously.

IMF ranks Ethiopia among the five fastest growing economies in the world and in 2013/2014 the economy grew for its 11th consecutive year posting 10.3% growth. Quite impressive for a non-oil producing economy. However it is still far from its ambition to become a middle income country by 2025. With around 29% of its population living below the poverty line there is much work that still needs to be done. And the government seems to be on the right track with a stable political environment, progressive economic liberalisation  and high focus on green & equitable growth.

Quite an impression for the very first week in a new country 🙂 I can hardly wait to see how much more there will be learn over the upcoming days.


Posted on October 25, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Fortuitous Forty!!!

figuring out life after 40...

Inner Whispers

Messages from Within

Triangle Below Canal Street

Don't Sleep On This

House of Uncommons

The uncommon perceptions, wisdom, and senses


Travel, Adventure, Roadtrips

Attila Ovari

Loving Life and Inspiring Others

global group of international organization for poverty & disable development program


finishing lives since the era of dinosaurs

Kezia Lubanszky

Writer, Editor, Bridget Jones Enthusiast

Tania Marie's Blog

Creating Life as a Work of Art

How Far From Home

Freelance Photographers & Filmmakers Traveling Around The World

we hunted the mammoth

the new misogyny, tracked and mocked

Southern Ohana

Southern Ohana

Kendall Kessler Art

Original Art by Award Winning Artist Kendall Kessler

Just A Primer

Musings and other thoughts on beauty.


food safety, food law, food frauds, food recalls, food

The Renegade Press

Tales from the mouth of a wolf

Reiki Mark Cross

Peace, happiness and relaxation

My Life

The Daily Adventures of a Single Mom

traces of orange


Agro and Farming

A Blog about Agriculture and Farming related NEWS, Reviews, Technologies, Products, Crops, Tips, Thoughts, Stories and lots . . .


Between An Island of Certainties and the Unknown Shore

Explore ideas worth spreading


This site is all about ideas

A Narcissist Writes Letters, To Himself

A Hopefully Formerly Depressed Human Vows To Practice Self-Approval

Casey Fiesler

#academia #internet #law #feminism #geek


just another boy who wants to be a girl

The Accidental Mathematician

Because "exact science is not always exact science."


A place for lovers of Yin and Yang to unite

Critical Dispatches

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @RichyDispatch

Affairs News

The mouthpiece of the Minorities in Bangladesh


hacking health, designing life

সাদাসিধে কথা আর্কাইভ

মুহম্মদ জাফর ইকবাল এর কলামগুলোর সংগ্রহ

The Belle Jar

"Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences." - Sylvia Plath

Single Mom Spot

Strength in the Singular

Where is Shyamni?

Being Sharon; finding Shyamni...


Quartz is a digitally native news outlet for the new global economy.

The Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies

Online Programs in the Humanities and the Social Sciences at UNCG

A Travel Blog

By Lena Desmond

TED Blog

The TED Blog shares interesting news about TED, TED Talks video, the TED Prize and more.

Kindness Blog

Kindness Images, Videos, True Life Stories, Quotes, Personal Reflections and Meditations.

The Only Way Is Dhaka!

Daily blog of an Englishwoman (married to a Bangladeshi) living in Dhaka, Bangladesh....

%d bloggers like this: