Rural poverty severely rising under Abiy Ahmed wartime Ethiopian economy

Prior to Abiy Ahmed coming to power poverty had been declining in Ethiopia but now rural poverty is increasing even in areas far away from conflict according to the World Bank and other authorities

Abiy Ahmed and the Prosperity Party war on Tigray is creating rapidly increasing severe rural poverty in Ethiopia not seen in many decades. In his quest to stay in power against the steady advance of Tigrayan and Oromo forces Ethiopia’s leader is rapidly reducing all other human needs to minimal levels instead just focusing on surviving. Ethiopia has gone from being an economic miracle to an economic disaster caused by the quest for power of the Prime Minister.

In the decade before Abiy Ahmed came to power as the Prime Minister of Ethiopia the extreme poverty rate of the Ethiopian population defined as living on less than $ 2 per day had decreased from over 39% to 19% overall. Now data from the World Bank Group shows that first due to COVID19 and subsequently the prolonged war which severely limited economic output and creation of employment the overall rate has reversed especially in rural populations rising to 41%. 

Ethiopia has maxed out credit at over $40 billion requiring payments greater than $ 2 billion per annum just to pay the debt service not the principle. Severe cuts in human needs such as medications, medical consumables, infrastructure maintenance and improvement, and equipment imports just to run basic societal functions are increasing. The rapid decline of the birr which has been more than 30% over the past few month alone as well as growing international sanctions due to the Ethiopian governments human rights violations combined with ongoing war make any chance for economic recovery poor.

Author: Professor Tony Magana

Professor Tony Magana is Head of the Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences at Mekelle University in Mekelle, Ethiopia. He directs a neurosurgery residency and training program as well as neuroscience research.

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