Thursday, May 23, 2024
CommentaryForging a sustainable future: Cultivating trust, opportunities in Ethiopia and beyond

Forging a sustainable future: Cultivating trust, opportunities in Ethiopia and beyond

The countries in the Horn of Africa have experienced occasional hostile confrontations, which have been addressed through political means or, in some cases, through the use of arms. Such confrontations are not only costly and frightening for those involved, but they also highlight the need for dialogue and alternative methods to resolve crises. While it is essential to employ various approaches in these situations, it is worth considering how cooperation on environmental issues can be utilized to achieve political objectives alongside resolving problems.

The intention here is not to introduce new environmental knowledge, but rather to explore its application within a different context. As someone who has devoted years to studying this field, I believe it is crucial to consider whether cooperation on environmental issues can serve as a means to address broader political aims while also resolving problems. When conflicts arise between nations or within a country’s regions, it is possible to approach these problems at a lower political level, fostering an atmosphere of trust through cooperation on mutually beneficial projects.

The following topics have the potential to mitigate damage, stimulate growth, and promote development in these areas. By focusing on cooperation, it becomes possible to engage in joint efforts without the prerequisite of addressing comprehensive political issues first.

Food supply

Food supply is often a pressing issue in various regions of the Horn of Africa. However, the problem does not always stem from a lack of food but rather from challenges related to access. Logistics, transportation, and local regulations frequently impede the distribution of food to those in need.

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Employing tactics such as withholding food to enforce compliance with government policies can be counterproductive. Such measures tend to provoke resistance, hostility, and long-term opposition. Consequently, these actions are shortsighted and ill-advised, as they not only harm the vulnerable population but can also backfire on the government. Moreover, stringent restrictions on food distribution can strain relations with neighboring countries and donors if they extend across borders.

Adopting a policy that channels food aid solely to areas supportive of the government, while neglecting regions advocating for greater self-regulation, is also shortsighted. This approach is likely to weaken national unity rather than strengthen it. If assistance is denied to neighboring countries while one country or region has the capacity to provide aid, it will inevitably fuel hostilities.

During periods of drought and famine, the immediate priority should be to provide relief to affected areas. However, it is equally important to adopt a long-term perspective that focuses on preparing for future emergencies. This may involve expanding and enhancing productivity in vulnerable or affected regions.

Implementing tree-planting initiatives to combat soil deterioration and enhancing potentially fertile areas are long-term measures that can prevent future calamities. However, it is crucial to carefully assess the suitability of different approaches for each specific district.

It should be recognized that not all soil types are compatible with the same interventions, and there is a risk of “overfeeding” the soil in a way that diminishes its long-term fertility. Lessons can be learned from past failures in regions where excessive fertilizer use has depleted the soil, rendering it barren or less productive over time.

Moreover, it is important to study which crops or forms of animal husbandry are best suited for each area. Encouraging cooperation between regions can lead to mutual benefits, where one region’s contributions can positively impact wider areas. This collaboration should be balanced to ensure that regions receiving assistance can provide other products in return, thus avoiding imbalances where one party benefits at the expense of others. A policy of give and take should be pursued.

Another aspect to consider is whether it is more sustainable in the long run to prioritize cultivation for export, particularly when international market prices may tempt countries to focus solely on export-oriented production to the detriment of their own population’s needs. Striking the right balance is crucial in this regard, avoiding excessive restrictions while maintaining a responsible approach.

Although crops like coffee and flowers may not be inherently nutritious, the income generated from such products can enable countries to purchase food on the open market at prices that can be supported by the revenue from these “luxury” goods. This, in turn, helps prevent hunger in exporting countries when they need to import food.

There is a potential danger in focusing solely on income generation and neglecting present and future needs. Some countries have experienced severe economic setbacks when they overly emphasized a single product or a few products, leaving their national economy vulnerable to changes in international market demands or prices. This situation has occurred when countries heavily rely on mono-crops or excessively prioritize a single export commodity, such as oil, coffee, tea, meat, or cereals.

Ensuring diversity in agricultural production is vital for securing both the present and the future. It serves as a safeguard against various challenges, including crop diseases, animal illnesses, depletion of resources (such as oil or water), and fluctuations in international demand or prices. Concentrating solely on one or a limited number of food sources can also lead to malnutrition and undernourishment, particularly among the poorest segments of the population who often opt for the cheapest available food. This can have detrimental effects on public health, even when there is an abundance of food.

Given the uncertainties associated with climate, especially rainfall patterns, it is important to prepare by cultivating crops that can thrive under different climatic conditions. This flexibility allows for the shifting of production as weather patterns change, promoting long-term sustainability and potentially serving as a wise short-term measure as well. Additionally, looking beyond national borders can be advantageous in this regard.

Providing food assistance to neighboring countries during times of shortages can foster positive relationships between nations and establish peaceful cooperation in both political and economic spheres.

In the Horn of Africa, smallholder farmers play a significant role in food production, and government regulations often have a substantial impact on farming practices at the local level. Pricing mechanisms can be beneficial for both farmers and consumers, but stringent price regulations during times of need may create incentives for farmers to operate in the “black market.”

Governments can take measures to ensure that the majority of the population can access food at affordable prices through mechanisms such as purchasing food from farmers at stipulated prices or building up reserves of food for future crises. Legislation against hoarding can also be considered to prevent farmers from stockpiling food in order to obtain more favorable prices during times of scarcity.

Striking a balance between free pricing, determined by market demand, and regulated pricing to assist those in need is beneficial for both farmers and consumers.

Excessive regulation can be harmful to both parties. Governments can purchase and store food during normal times and distribute or sell it at affordable prices when the need arises. However, this must be done judiciously to avoid discouraging farmers from their productive efforts.

It is also important to set limits on land ownership by individuals and restrict the amount of “tribute” that can be demanded from tenants. Lessons can be learned from feudal times in Ethiopia, where such limitations were recognized as valuable.

Food trade across borders is typically governed and controlled by governments. However, if trade policies are detrimental to producers (such as through excessive export or import duties), it can create a strong temptation for food smuggling and act as a disincentive to maximum production efforts.

Since droughts and shortages rarely affect all areas simultaneously, cross-border trade becomes crucial in building positive relations between neighboring countries. This may involve the movement of food across provincial, regional, and national borders.

This aspect is particularly significant in the Horn of Africa, given the diverse climatic conditions, soil properties, and unequal distribution of people across highlands, lowlands, and temperate zones that are most suitable for food production and human settlement.

Fresh Water Use

Drought has been a recurring issue in many countries in the Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia, despite the country’s abundant water resources. Ethiopia is often referred to as the “Water Tower of Africa” due to its significant water sources. It is important to dispel the misconception that Ethiopia lacks water resources, as it actually possesses extensive water reserves.

Lake Tana and the Blue Nile in Ethiopia contribute the majority of water to the Nile River, and there are also tributaries from southern Ethiopia that feed into the White Nile and the Nile north of Khartoum.

Historically, Ethiopia has faced challenges in fully utilizing the Nile waters due to issues stemming from colonial times. Sudan and, primarily, Egypt have used these historical disputes to hinder Ethiopian development plans related to the river. Determining the primary right to use the water remains a contentious issue.

Should the country where the water source originates have the primary right? Should the water be divided between countries based on the proportion of the river that flows through each country? Or should the main right go to the first country to utilize the waters? These questions have yet to be fully resolved.

However, recent efforts to reach an agreement between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt have shown promising results. The aim is to ensure that each country can utilize the Nile waters without causing harm or obstructing the flow to downstream countries.

The example of negotiations between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt regarding the utilization of Nile waters demonstrates how conflicts can be resolved peacefully through diplomatic means. The Blue Nile, being a significant resource for Ethiopia, holds great potential not only for providing water but also for generating hydroelectric power through the realization of current development plans. Expanding the use of the Blue Nile’s resources can benefit Ethiopia’s neighbors as well.

Sudan has historically made better use of Nile waters for agriculture compared to Ethiopia, but this situation may change with Ethiopia’s current plans. For Egypt, the water from the Nile is a matter of utmost importance, as it is crucial for its survival and prosperity.

Ethiopia also possesses various other water resources, particularly rivers, that can be harnessed for the benefit of its own population while also benefiting its neighbors. The Wabi Shebelle and Juba rivers, originating in Ethiopia, are vital for agriculture, domestic use, and industry in Somalia. The Awash River, although it disappears in the sand before reaching the coast, can be better utilized within Ethiopia. The lakes that form on the border with Djibouti are likely fed by water from the Awash River, forced to the surface by rocky terrain in the subsoil.

The Omo River, which previously had limited utilization within Ethiopia, supplies all the water in Lake Turkana. Collaboration between Ethiopia and Kenya regarding the use of water from the Omo River can be mutually beneficial for both countries. The Tekeze River, located near the border with Eritrea, joins with the Atbara River along that border before flowing into the Nile. The waters of these rivers can serve as a catalyst for cooperation rather than hostility between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The Rift Valley, which traverses Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Kenya, offers significant potential for water resources. The region is characterized by numerous lakes, some of which have thermal springs and mineral waters that could potentially be utilized for health-related purposes and spas. These water sources can benefit not only the inhabitants of the Rift Valley but also wider areas beyond.

Aquifers, underground water reservoirs, are another valuable but largely unexplored source of water. Proper exploration and management of aquifers could unlock additional water resources with unknown potential for beneficial use, without disrupting underground water flow.

Ethiopia generally receives ample rainfall, and by constructing dams in areas with a wider catchment during periods of heavy rain, it is possible to collect and store freshwater. This can help ensure a more consistent water supply, even in regions prone to drought. Government-led efforts to manage and distribute water resources can contribute to national unity by demonstrating a commitment to the well-being of the entire country.

While foreign aid can provide short-term relief for urgent problems, national efforts and initiatives have the potential to foster goodwill and strengthen national unity in ways that foreign aid alone cannot achieve.

Soil erosion, desertification, and deforestation

In terms of environmental challenges, soil erosion, desertification, and deforestation have been significant concerns in the Sahel region. Deserts have expanded southward, leading to the shrinkage of fertile and cultivable areas, thereby affecting food production. However, Ethiopia has been relatively less impacted by these issues compared to its surrounding countries. Kenya, in particular, has been less affected by desertification.

The expansion of the Sahel region, which has been observed for decades, is increasingly noticeable in countries such as Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia. While the country is already aware of the issue, its seriousness is likely to escalate, requiring continuous and urgent actions.

One of the significant factors contributing to the challenges faced by Ethiopia is the rapid population growth witnessed in recent decades. This population increase corresponds to a higher demand for food and water resources. Immediate and ongoing preventive measures are crucial to address soil erosion and deforestation. However, efforts to mitigate damage alone may not be sufficient. As the population continues to grow, there may be a need for land reclamation, utilizing previously unused land to meet the expanding population’s needs.

Overgrazing and deforestation are currently the primary problems in Ethiopia. The country has traditionally had a large number of cattle, often exceeding the requirements for food production. Owning a substantial number of cattle has been associated with prestige and the demonstration of wealth in many areas. Cattle also serve as a form of currency, used in exchanges, bride price payments, and dowries.

Due to these cultural and economic factors, cattle are often undernourished and unsuitable as a reliable food source. The emphasis has been on the quantity of cattle rather than their quality.

Reducing the number of cattle and sheep in Ethiopia, while promoting efficient and sustainable animal husbandry practices for food production rather than prestige, can lead to improved utilization of pastures. This concept applies to other neighboring countries as well, where variations in livestock preferences exist, such as Kenya’s preference for goats over sheep. The question of profitable land utilization remains relevant despite these variations, including the case of camel husbandry in Somalia.

By focusing on animal husbandry for food production, areas that are best suited for cattle and sheep rearing can contribute to increased food production. This surplus can be directed to areas within Ethiopia that are in need of food supplies, either temporarily or on a more permanent basis. Such assistance can be extended to neighboring countries, fostering better relations while benefiting the economy of Ethiopian farmers.

In addition to the economic benefits, this approach would help preserve valuable grazing lands by reducing overgrazing and mitigating soil erosion. Other beneficial measures include restricting the use of endangered areas, implementing terracing techniques, grass planting, mulching, hedging, and ditching.

Desertification is a growing concern that must be addressed to prevent further degradation of land and natural resources in the long term.

Rapid deforestation poses significant challenges for families and the country as a whole. Historically, trees have been used for fuel and construction purposes, and when the population was limited, natural regrowth of forests occurred over time. However, with the rapid population increase, the demand for wood has outpaced the capacity of forests to regenerate naturally. The export of wood in recent years may have further depleted the natural supply.

Thus, measures must be taken to limit deforestation and avoid severe problems in the future. Urgent steps should include intensifying tree planting programs to replenish forest resources. It is vital to consider the negative effects of climate change, as the state of vegetation influences the natural exchange of gases and other environmental factors. Additionally, promoting the use of alternative building materials that do not negatively impact the environment could help reduce reliance on wood. Traditional materials like clay bricks and stones have been used for construction and could be encouraged to reduce the need for tree cutting.

In areas where alternative building materials would be most beneficial for preventing environmental stress and degradation, the government can provide assistance to vulnerable and affected regions, strengthening national cohesion in the process. Addressing erosion in Ethiopia should also consider the impact of land degradation in neighboring countries and vice versa.

Cooperation across borders for mutual benefit can foster friendly relations and extend to other politically sensitive areas, promoting collaboration and regional stability.

Locust control

Locust control is a crucial aspect of agricultural and food security in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. Desert locusts, particularly the species Schistocerca gregaria, can cause extensive damage to crops, and their breeding patterns can lead to widespread infestations across different regions. Collaborative efforts across borders and within the country are essential to effectively address this issue.

The breeding of desert locusts is most active in arid areas, including the Sahel, the Red Sea coast, the western side of the Indian Ocean, and the coasts of Eritrea and Somalia. These areas experience dry conditions for much of the year, making them favorable for locust breeding. However, locust swarms can cover vast distances and migrate to more humid regions in search of moisture. As a result, highland and temperate areas in Ethiopia can be affected by locust invasions, particularly from March to June.

Given the transnational nature of the locust problem, cooperation between countries is vital. Establishing good neighborly relations among countries affected by the same locust population is crucial. Ethiopia, which may suffer from crop losses caused by locusts originating in neighboring countries like Somalia, Eritrea, or Sudan, can engage in mutually beneficial exchanges as part of cooperation efforts. This could involve providing food, freshwater, and electricity in exchange for cooperation in locust control.

Locust control initiatives present an opportunity to build cooperative relationships and foster a friendly atmosphere for interaction among countries, even in politically sensitive areas. However, it is essential to ensure that the destruction of locust breeding conditions is carried out in a manner that does not harm the soil or render it unsuitable for grazing or food production.

Currently, chemical insecticides/pesticides are the most effective control measure against locusts. However, their use must be carefully managed to prevent damage to soil and crops. Research and experimentation on biological control agents, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or other methods, offer potential alternatives to chemical agents.

Collaborative research in this field can contribute to the development of more sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions. Effective locust control measures bring significant benefits to farmers and food crop growers by reducing the immense crop losses caused by locust swarms. By prioritizing cooperation, conducting coordinated research, and exploring innovative control methods, Ethiopia and its neighboring countries can mitigate the impact of locust infestations and enhance food security in the region.

Cross-border movement

The movement of nomads across borders in search of grazing grounds and water sources presents challenges that need to be addressed with sensitivity and cooperation. While each country desires control over its territory, unauthorized cross-border movements have led to conflicts and misuse by smugglers and hostile groups. Therefore, it is important to establish controlled and regulated movements that can alleviate hardships while ensuring security.

During seasons of drought, the crossing of borders should be carefully controlled and restricted to designated areas and specific periods. This requires consultation and agreement between the parties involved to manage the movement of people and animals effectively. The Ogaden region, which has experienced armed conflicts, exemplifies the complexities associated with this issue. However, finding an amicable solution to the problem can contribute to fostering peaceful relations between Somalia (or specific Somali groups) and Ethiopia (or Ethiopians residing in the Ogaden region).

The Afar people, who are divided by old and new borders between Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti, may feel that their rights to move freely within “their” area have been compromised due to borders being drawn without their involvement. Recognizing their ancient rights to move and interact freely among their kin or tribe, and facilitating access to water and grazing grounds, can contribute to their peaceful and cooperative engagement within the respective countries they inhabit. This approach can enhance goodwill between nations and promote cooperation among nationalities and ethnic groups.

The Oromo people, who reside in Ethiopia, Kenya, and along the Webi Shebelle River in Somalia, can benefit from considering their needs and desires for cross-border movements to avoid conflicts and strengthen cooperation. Similar considerations should be extended to other populations facing similar challenges, such as the Nilo-Saharan peoples (Nuer, Anuak, and Murle) residing along the border with Sudan, particularly along the Sobat River.

These populations often assert hereditary rights of movement that predate the establishment of international borders, which were often drawn by colonial powers or following internal conflicts, as seen in the case of Eritrea and Ethiopia. Addressing these historical and traditional rights of movement can help resolve conflicts and promote peaceful interaction, benefiting each country involved. Encouraging peaceful coexistence and respecting these rights can contribute to positive outcomes, considering recent events that show promise in this regard.

Various factors, including drought, famine, seasonal weather changes, civil strife, and other challenges, make occasional or regular cross-border movements essential for the well-being and survival of individuals and communities.

Pastoral movements over large areas have been a longstanding practice, and many pastoralists can rightfully claim ancient rights that precede the establishment of national borders. However, it is important to address the potential misuse of such traditional rights by politicized groups and seek wise solutions that balance the needs of communities and the interests of nations.

By establishing regulated and mutually agreed-upon movements and rights, peace can be promoted in areas where cross-border or internal problems exist.

Control spread of animal diseases

Controlling the spread of animal diseases is crucial for maintaining the health of herds and preventing the transmission of diseases across regions.

During disease outbreaks, the movement of herds from affected areas can unintentionally contribute to the spread of diseases. Animals may carry diseases even before external symptoms are evident, making it essential to implement measures to control the movements of livestock and minimize disease transmission. In Ethiopia and neighboring areas where a significant portion of the population depends on farming and animal husbandry, the supervision of livestock movements and the handling and trade of agricultural products are of utmost importance.

Animal diseases such as rinderpest, anthrax, tetanus, salmonellosis, foot and mouth disease, and parasitic diseases cause substantial livestock losses each year, resulting in significant economic losses for individual farmers and the country as a whole. Disease control measures, including vaccinations, proper treatment of animals, and ensuring adequate nutrition and water sources, are essential. Well-fed and healthy animals are less susceptible to infections than undernourished or malnourished ones.

Governments can support farmers by providing assistance in controlling herds and stocks, offering vaccinations, and providing advice on animal treatment and nutrition. Ensuring the health and well-being of livestock not only benefits individual farmers but also makes them more attractive in the market.

Given that animal diseases easily cross borders, regional cooperation is crucial. Collaborative efforts among nations are needed from supervision, coordination, inspection, facilities, vaccination (including animals traded or exported with quarantine measures), tracing the origins of outbreaks and infected animals, to training of veterinary staff, and monitoring.

Establishing a robust control apparatus requires cooperation across regional and national borders, as it increases the likelihood of success in disease prevention and control measures.

Infrastructure and communication

Improved infrastructure and communication play a crucial role in addressing local environmental problems and facilitating interventions. Insufficient infrastructure, such as poor roads and railroads, can create logistical constraints and hinder the transportation of goods and aid, leading to the need to import food from international markets rather than relying on local production. These obstacles can be exacerbated by hostilities in certain regions, making it challenging to provide assistance where it is needed.

Developing better transportation infrastructure benefits both the mobility of people and the movement of goods. It can help overcome isolation, foster trust among populations, and reduce unfounded suspicions and hostilities towards outsiders. Effective communication promotes good neighborliness and facilitates aid, supervision, and control efforts. When the government demonstrates its commitment to the well-being of all citizens and invests in infrastructure, it strengthens national cohesion and fosters a sense of unity.

Improved infrastructure also enhances connections with neighboring countries. Historical examples, such as the construction of the railroad connecting Ethiopia and Djibouti by the French and the prioritization of road construction by the Italians during their occupation, highlight the importance of communication routes for trade, imports, and exports.

Ethiopia would greatly benefit from better intra-country and cross-border links with neighboring countries. The import and export of essential commodities, including food, depend on efficient transportation networks to both adjacent and more distant regions. While air transport is valuable, it can be expensive for certain goods. Relying on a single outlet, such as Djibouti, can create challenges in negotiating transportation costs.

Having multiple outlets and strong links with neighboring countries offers numerous advantages for Ethiopia and benefits the entire region. It promotes self-reliance and diversifies trade options. While building roads in Ethiopia can be costly due to the diverse landscape, neglecting infrastructure development can be even more expensive.

Inadequate infrastructure hampers the provision of aid and can lead to internal and external tensions, particularly when certain areas feel neglected or marginalized. Establishing good structural communications not only facilitates economic growth but also fosters positive social relations, benefiting governments, local communities, and individuals alike.

By investing in infrastructure development and improving communication networks, Ethiopia can enhance its economic and social relations. This mutually beneficial approach supports regional cooperation, strengthens ties between nations, and contributes to the overall well-being and development of the region.

Strengthening existing mechanisms of cooperation and mutual help

Strengthening existing mechanisms of cooperation and mutual help is essential for addressing challenges and finding solutions within and across borders. Institutions like the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Union (AU), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have been established to foster mutual support and crisis resolution. However, valuable lessons can also be learned from local initiatives and traditional forms of cooperation.

Ethiopia and its neighboring countries have a long history of mutual aid, both on small and large scales. During times of crisis or drought, people often move to other areas, including towns, in search of means of survival. Ethiopian society generally accepts and accommodates these movements, as seen in crowded cities like Addis Ababa during drought seasons. While emotional support is often provided to those in need, there is room for improvement in terms of material support.

There is potential for regions to learn from one another and even from other countries. Local and national institutions can play a role in providing necessary support alongside individual efforts. Allowing nomads to move across established grazing grounds, as well as facilitating safe migration, can help address challenges related to population growth and increased urbanization.

The phenomenon of urbanization often leads to overcrowding, poverty, and associated issues like crime and non-productive trades. Providing work and educational opportunities in various localities can make it more attractive for people to stay in their home areas. Investments in sport and entertainment facilities can also contribute to creating more appealing living conditions and reducing the need for migration.

However, it is important to avoid imposing rigid systems of cooperation that may not be suitable for every community. Instead, consultation and collaboration within each locality can lead to the best solutions and outcomes. It is crucial to remain open to innovation and learning from others while respecting the diversity of needs and preferences among different groups.

Cross-border learning and cooperation can also be valuable, although it often requires regional and national solutions. IGAD, for example, emphasizes the importance of improved cooperation across the entire region, encompassing the Horn of Africa.

In conclusion, fostering good relations through mutual efforts to solve or mitigate environmental problems for mutual benefit is key to strengthening all parties involved. Africa has a tradition of both cooperation and conflicts when issues arise between groups and regions. The focus should be on reducing hostility and strengthening cooperation.

The governments in the Horn of Africa are well aware of the problems discussed above. Each country has its own specialists in these areas and is in the best position to identify the challenges and find suitable solutions.

However, it has been disheartening to witness how neighboring countries with long historical ties repeatedly engage in armed conflicts, economic disputes, and social discord. Too often, attempts to address these problems have been made at the highest political levels, yielding less-than-desired results.

This has been evident in the conflicts between Ethiopia and Eritrea regarding borders and the use of harbors, as well as relations between the Afar people on both sides of the border. Similar issues have arisen with Sudan and Egypt concerning the utilization of the waters of the Blue Nile, possibly extending to refugee problems.

There have also been less severe tensions with Djibouti regarding harbor usage, the rights of the Afar people who are divided between three countries, and their competition with other tribes in the region. Additionally, conflicts with Somalia have emerged, involving border disputes, grazing and other rights of pastoralists across borders, and potentially the use of water from rivers originating in Ethiopia, which is of vital importance to Somalia.

Relations with Kenya have generally been more peaceful, although there have been desires among the Oromo people on both sides of the border for greater freedom of movement. To strengthen good neighborly relations, Ethiopia’s recent use of the Omo River, including damming and electricity generation, can be combined with offering electric power to the part of Kenya that would benefit from it, such as areas near Lake Turkana.

Furthermore, better regional cooperation can contribute to easing or solving recent conflicts within Ethiopia’s borders.

The economic and social implications of such cooperation extend beyond the local level and can play a significant role in establishing and maintaining peaceful relations in general. Wars and maintaining large military forces for all eventualities are incredibly costly endeavors. Peace and security can be achieved through less expensive means than constantly being on high alert for potential attacks from neighboring countries or within one’s own population.

Withholding aid, such as food and facilities, from areas that may be deemed less favorable to the government will only exacerbate hostility and hinder cooperation. Instead, providing aid and support, even when the government may perceive certain sections of the population as undeserving, can strengthen existing connections and build new ones. It can also foster support for government policies in those areas and in general.

While external threats have often been used worldwide to foster internal cohesion, efforts to pacify potential adversaries and seek peaceful coexistence should not be abandoned. By striving to live in peace with all, resources can be allocated towards improving the lives of everyone.

By prioritizing peace and investing in diplomacy, the costs associated with conflicts and military preparedness can be reduced, allowing resources to be directed towards improving the well-being of all individuals in the region.

Contributed by Reidulf Molvaer

[speaker]
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