What is unique on ‘Water & Soil conservation campaign’ in Eritrea?

Water and soil conservation campaign in Eritrea is not the same as to what really happens in that of other experiences. Certainly, although it is similar in practice – to promote obese recovery – above all it differs in objective, just to mention one point. For the most part, it is a way of enhancing land right or a process of emancipating the land from the filthy, despondent and perplexed colonial past, a sole motive that inspires it.

In fact, water and soil conservation in Eritrea goes beyond symbolic initiative of deterring temporary climatic pressure to the extent that, it is a process of achieving one great objective, to fulfill novel historical promise.

‘Let the land and the people get liberated step by step’ was amongst the many unique revolutionary maxims during Eritrea’s armed struggle. A liberated land defines a liberated people or the other way round. Therefore, a liberated people represent a liberated land on a precondition that if they pledge to heal the land’s wounds, like what being  implemented in Eritrea’s water and soil conservation campaign, during those post-independence years.

For this purpose, what is the meaning of a liberated land?

A liberated land is a well-protected one in terms of ownership and service with exhilarating definition to its owners. Unquestionably, its owners pledge to facilitate favourable conditions to vegetation recovery, encourage pastoral reserves for the growing livestock numbers and woody biomass, protect endangered tree and wildlife species from extinction, protect soil erosion, etc.

Similarly, how can we situate our land and its well-being in relation to our historical promises in Eritrea?

Eritrea was once host to a wide variety of fauna and flora. Nevertheless, due to colonial mismanagement the woody vegetation which once covered some 30% of the total land area of the country was dwindled greatly in less than a century. Contemporarily, many of the spices which were existed in the country are either extinct or endangered due to colonial agricultural expansions and the imprudent land usages, overgrazing, traditional house construction, fuel wood and charcoal… As a long term effect, 8% of Eritrea’s land mass has a declining trend of land productivity, and 16% show early signs of land productivity decline, while 12% of the land covers are stable but stressed, according to a data from the Ministry of Agriculture (2000-2010)

Underlining this, working cautiously to perk up land recovery is on top of all agendas, in private and public spheres in Eritrea. So, this is the spot where the positive relationship among the people, history and so do the land starts in Eritrea.

There are examples that define the strong bond among history, the surrounding people and so do the environment across the country. The most exciting point is when we see individuals doing their best in promoting such a bond.

The late Hagos Dirar is amongst the many. Hagos was an inhabitant of a village named Azien, located 20 kilometres north of Asmara. He had a big dream. His dream was ‘to plant one tree in the name of every one of the 85 thousand of Eritrea’s martyrs’. Hagos had succeeded in planting more than 65,000 plants at different areas, from schools to churches. He died while he was working hard to fulfil his dream. All in all, every moment to him was a moment of greening his environment.

In Eritrea, the entire community have participated in soil and water conservation campaigns to make a difference. Thus, as it is widely recognized that land restoration is a novel historical and pragmatic mission that the government cannot tackle alone; massive social mobilization might play the other part is the core point. Most important, though water and soil conservation campaign in Eritrea has entitled to the whole community it is so much relevant to the country’s youngsters in many ways also.

Youngsters with their dynamic energy are indeed the best resource Eritrea might ever enjoy. Youth participation during the Summer Students Campaign, organized by the Ministry of Education is an important campaign towards that end.     

For this reason, what has required to get mobilized (using the formation of eco-group in high schools, the students summer campaign as a baseline for instance) in relation to environmental objectives is that of youngster’s energy.  Establishing a lee-way of positive relationship between youngster’s attitudes and the surrounding environment might reshapes the way they see it, either as means to some ends or an end by itself.

Along with, youngsters are obliged to offer an ardent attention to the environment. Environmental change is one of the most urgent issues confronts every societal well-being, and as youngster’s energy in every society is dynamic, such a task could only be accomplished successfully by the youngsters. Secondly, young people are related to the campaign to recover the country’s environment in multiple ways. On the one hand, Young people will live much of their lives on an earth whose conditions are increasingly altered by climate change and various dimensions of their lives, including their security, well-being, and even mental health, will be negatively affected by the environment. On the other hand, no one can be seen as environmental stewards for the future than youngsters that they need to spearheaded efforts to confront climate change and its adverse consequences.

Amanuel Zekarias

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