Between the 9th and 24th of February, the delegation of Sustainable Sweden Association went to Ethiopia to start the Process Leader Training Program in the region of Tigray. This delegation included the Chairman of SSA Torbjörn Lahti, the executive director of SSDE Adane Negash, Mikael Brändström, environmental consultant at Esam AB, Aster Askedom, expert on water in the Västra Götland region, but also Karl Johan Bonnedahl, Angéla Ekman-Natt and Kenneth Gyllensting from SEKOM and Christina Snell-Lumio from the Övertorneå municipality who joined later. This three-stage program will be conducted in order to enhance the knowledge and skills of process leaders and their ability to lead the change process in their Eco-Municipalities.
Regional workshop in Arba Minch
The members of SSA landed in Arba Minch, in the SNNP region where occurred the last 3-days regional workshop of the program composed of 60 participants from municipalities, universities, companies. They were able to identify their common long-term vision and to find out the challenges they needed to solve. Eventually, it would be a first strong foundation to establish their own sustainable development concept.
The follow-up day was dedicated to a study visit of the under-construction new facilities of Arba Minch: a sewage plant, a recycling station, and a shoreline protection project preventing floods.
Visit in Addis-Ababa
It was also the opportunity to have a meeting in Adis Ababa with UN-Habitat to discuss a joint application to SIDA and expand the project. This discussion seemed to be a good omen for future cooperation. Furthermore, a first meeting was held on the 13th with the Ministry of Urban Development and Construction as part of the National Steering
Committee, to reinforce the partnership between the entities and continue to work on the Pilot Project for Eco-municipalities.
The next day, the delegation was invited to the Swedish Embassy for lunch and met a lot of participants who work in the sustainability area and which SIDA supports.
Process Leader Training in Mekele, Tigray
Then, the delegation arrived in Mekelle in Tigray’s region to start the Process Leader Training involving 29 committed participants from 10 Ethiopian eco-municipalities. The purpose of this program is to have the process leaders capable and skilled enough to lead their own PLT in the future.
On the 20th, they organized a practical element in the education of the participants
including some study visits, for example, their landfill, their work on urban greening. The participants were tasked with linking all study visits to the SDGs and the sustainability principles. The Swedes were somewhat disappointed and expected that more effort would be put into waste and compost management since the last time they came.
For their last day in Ethiopia, the Sweden delegation had been given the opportunity to go on a sight-seeing tour where they could observe the incredible hydraulic facilities implemented by the village of Abraha Atsbeha. Indeed, the region of Tigray is suffering from droughts because of the very short rainy periods. In 1998, the village was to be resettled in a different area due to the barrenness of the land but the chief of the village encouraged the community to join forces and settle many projects to fight against drought and erosion of soil and rehabilitate ecosystems destroyed by overgrazing. They constructed a check dam, terraces, and percolation trenches and implemented a « Waterbank » system now expanded to all farmers. Nowadays, the groundwater has risen significantly and the villagers can harvest many crops around three times per year and can now sell their surplus production on local markets. Click here to learn more about it.
This is a good example of how a community deploying its workforce can innovate to create wealth from their own environment using sustainable land management.
Now it is time for the Swedish delegation to prepare the much-awaited Sustainable Sweden Tour in May which will take the Ethiopian process leaders around Norrland!