Eritrea: Mismanagement Of Land & Human Resources
The main difference between developed and developing countries is in the way they are managed. Any progress on the national or individual level depends on this field of knowledge—management. Since it held power, the regime has managed Eritrean affairs in the worst manner, and this is due to the system applied (sectarian) that recruits incompetent individuals in decisive positions. Mishandling of our national affairs is evident in all fields: national unity, education, economy, politics, so on and so forth. My focus in this article will be about the mismanagement of land and human resources—the mishandling of land and the treatment of Eritrean farmers.
In the first instance, the regime has divided Eritrea into six regions. The purpose of this action was to obliterate the old geographical names of Eritrea. It justified this action by claiming that the old names of our provinces create disputes among the people; but it didn’t substantiate the claim even with a single incident of civil strife among Eritrean provinces. The motive behind erasing the history and geography of Eritrea is unconvincing. The new division was seen by many Eritreans, as early as 1995, as an indication of creating serious problems among Eritreans. In any case, time has unfolded the untold story of cutting and pasting game.
An error in management will never become sound and professional kind through the change of names of places. The regime in Eritrea is not the first of its kind to hold power in the history of mankind. The pages of history are full of dictators who attempted to manage things according to their whims. The result was failure and the eventual disappearance of the misguided and unjust dictators. An error will remain an error forever—the outcome of illegal government is failure; exactly as a building with no stable foundation is doomed to collapse. In an environment of such mismanagement where the regime chases by fantasies, coexistence and development will never materialize in Eritrea. It is amal iblis fi aljanah (the hope of Satan in heaven).
In the early nineties of the last century, the regime issued a decree and proclaimed ownership of the entire Eritrean land. Many governments in the world control land, but they don’t deprive natives of ownership and history. As a government, the regime is supposed to handle the land issue properly; however, there are many apparent cases of vast transgressions, injustice and discriminations among citizens. The grabbing of land for the benefit of new settlers, while its owners languishing in refugee camps a few kilometers away, demonstrates the mismanagement of the Eritrean land and its resources. This action of appropriation contradicts with the ideal exploitation of land for developmental purposes.
Development is a result of a professional management. One of the imperative issues elected governments address properly is the issue of land. The people of any country require land mainly for residence, farming and industry. Some countries are big in size; therefore, mistakes in planning can be contained. In the case of small countries, such as Eritrea, the use of land should decided after farsighted studies are conducted. Elected governments, naturally, prior to taking any action, perform a thorough study on the projects they intend to execute; irrational utilization of land puts a country into unceasing problems. An erroneous mishandling of land, for solving temporary requirements, creates huge impediments in the way of national unity and future development.
The regime thinks by moving people to new places will settle its problems, prevent and hold supporters of the regime from shifting to the opposition camp. This kind of approach complicates and aggravates the situation; and that in turn makes the downfall of the regime inevitable and closer. The regime has created immense obstacles on the way of stability and development for any future democratic governments in Eritrea; however, solving those problems will be the priority of elected national governments.
Eritrea is a geographical diverse country. The diversity of land imposes upon Eritreans to make appropriate studies in order to attain maximum benefit from their land. Studies on land issues should put into consideration, and scientifically determine areas for residence, farming and industrial use.
Residence areas are required to be healthier, utilizes power and water resources economically and must be easy to have sanitary system. At the same time, it should be unsuitable for agriculture or industry. The highlands and more than half of the lowland of Eritrea meet the requirements of good residence areas. These moderate climate areas are considered ideal places for living. A family in these places can lead, with an acceptable income, a good standard of life. In moderate climate areas people have record high lifespan. A rational national government will definitely choose healthier places for its people, specially for children and the old.
There are areas in Eritrea suitable for agriculture. The most appropriate agricultural areas in Eritrea are Barka and Gash. This doesn’t mean the other parts of Eritrea are barren areas. The most productive arable areas of Barka and Gash should exclusively be for agriculture, for expected national food production, for national consumption and export will depend on these arable areas. Flooding these agricultural areas with hundreds of thousands of families will deter the agricultural development of Eritrea. These families will increase in number within the coming decades and cover the whole agricultural areas and consume the available water that is found in the Barka and Gash rivers. By moving people from the highland to these agricultural areas, the regime has pushed Eritrea into losing its most important agricultural areas and source of water for agriculture. Here appears the negative role of the regime in handling the land issue.
The industrial areas are the third vital area of land that should be selected properly. This important pillar of development should be far from residential areas, near the sources of raw materials and where products can easily be transported to markets. This sort of strategy will preserve Eritrean cities and villages from being polluted, and at the same time make them healthier and suitable for living. Eritrea is still undeveloped country, therefore, from the outset, it should introduce environment friendly modern industries. Establishing industries in inappropriate areas, without making proper studies, will negatively affect Eritrea instead of benefiting it. Industries should not be built at unsuitable area (residential) with the goal of solving temporary problems and that is what the regime is attempting to do.
I believe that repositioning industries after establishing them is more difficult than building them. The regime introduced some light industries that hurt the very individuals working in them; it is not concerned about the safety and health of the people working at the plants. The light industries that the regime has introduced lack the basic standard safety measures—this can be observed in the gold mining and marble quarries. In the eyes of the regime, a citizen is valueless and a disposable item—just like the regimes head labeled the youth escaping from servitude as residues.
The other field of mishandling Eritrean affairs is demonstrated in the displacement of citizens from their natural habitat where they lived for centuries, to new places. This dislocating is regarded as mismanagement of human resources. Certainly, climate difference will affect the life of the dislodged citizens. The new climate will make them vulnerable to a multitude of diseases, specially when we take into consideration the low standard of living and the hard work required. This will reflect, of course, negatively in the productivity of the settlers contrary to the expectations of the exclusionists. Regrettably on the national level, the outcome will be more deterioration in the standard of living. The regime appears (upon analyzing the land grabbing, the displacement program and the system of land distribution) to be pulling the country back to the traditional mode of agriculture.
The mosquito nets that the regime distributes will help the new settlers to sleep, but cannot protect them from malaria. A few mosquitoes stings are enough to cause malaria. Therefore, the new displacement is another additional crime perpetrated by the regime against our people; likewise it sows hatred between the new settlers and the excluded natives. By all scales, what the regime has done is a double-sided crime—against the deprived and the favored. Both crimes are important facts that can be employed by the opposition camp and human rights activists in their advocacy against the regime. The regime in Asmara is a source of instability. Nationally it is a creator of chaos; regionally, it is intruder regime; and internationally, it is a regime of pirates.
The regime, instead of modernizing the inherited skills through financial assistance and introducing new agricultural technology, has chosen to push the people in its experiments. The practices of the regime is making Eritrea lose its valuable asset—inherited skills that were accumulated through centuries. To explain the loss of skills, I will present an example Barka and Dankalia: if the people of Dankalia, who are experienced in sea faring and fisheries, to Barka, and move the people of Barka, who are well experienced in animal husbandry, to Dankalia, the result is clear—a huge loss of inherited skills amassed through centuries.
The best alternative, for our people in Dankalia is to enhance their inherited skills, introduce new technologies such as modern fishing boats, refrigeration system and industrialization of fish products for local, regional and international markets. There also can be similar projects of hybrid cows, industries that treat derivatives of milk products, and introducing modern system of agriculture for our people in Barka. This, of course, can be done after returning them from the refugee camps—which are nearer than Seraye, Akleguzay and Hamasen—to their original villages and towns.
Also, similar loss of inherited skills will occur to our farmers in Seraye, Hamasen and Akoleguzay who are adapted to a moderate climate and mountainous areas. Eritrea needs the climate, the farmers of the highlands in which these farmers dwell for giant agricultural projects—crops, fruits and animal husbandry. The regime didn’t realize this reality. Our farmers in Seraye, Hamasen and Akleguzay, without deserting their villages, can outshine in the production of milk if they attain hybrid cows. Fodder can be secured for their cows locally or from Barka and neighboring countries. The highlanders do not need to flood the lowland of Eritrea. What they require from the lowland can come to them without departing their villages and towns and enter into conflicts with their brothers in the nation. Eritreans should think of benefiting from their land resources with mutual respect and wise utilization of resources, far from the illegal practices of the regime that implements misguided policies that favor one citizen and deprive another. The practices of the regime has already ignited the fire that will burn all the dreams of Eritreans. Certainly, there is a risk that we might reach a stage that every Eritrean would suffer from unless the furious flames of the devastating fire are distinguished immediately by the wise in Eritrea.
Within the past two decades, the regime failed to introduce new technologies so as to enhance the skills and living standard of our people; therefore, it resorted to a satanic practice to deviate people from the main issue—its atrocities. The displacement of our people, whether forced or voluntary, causes Eritrea to lose massive inherited skills of its people. This is part of the devastating practices of the regime that is calls development. The regime woke up from its sound sleep and decided that twenty years of pushing the people to starvation and serfdom were not enough, thus, it came up with a new devise: pushing our people into a dark tunnel of hatred and conflicts.
The regime spreads its wrecking policies everywhere (mishandling of our national affairs), citizens escaped with either deep or light injuries. The anger and rage of those who are hurt deeply may be high. It is also natural to direct the blame towards the overwhelming majority that stands behind the regime. It is unjust to blame the victims who diagnosed the motto under which the regime acts and is supported. A correct diagnosis of the regime will assist the opposition camp to come closer to each other, expose and besiege the fortress on which the regime depends. Attempting to cover the real nature of the regime is tantamount to wickedness; we have to recognize the crimes perpetrated by the exclusionists against our people.