January 3, 2006
Where's the news?
Q: What do you do if you are a government-controlled news organisation and an embarrassing story starts spreading across the international media?
A: If you are in Ethiopia, you ignore it and wait for it to go away.
The story first appeared in the Financial Times on December 29:
Donors plan to withhold $375m from Ethiopia (Subscription barrier)
Donors are to withhold direct budgetary support worth about $375m (€317m £218m) from Ethiopia following the government's brutal crackdown on opposition supporters last month, western development officials said yesterday.
Until the situation improves, the donors - which include the World Bank, the European Union and the UK - will look to disburse the funds in other ways to continue tackling the country's massive poverty challenges, Ishac Diwan, the World Bank's country director, said.
The move is a further blow to the credibility of Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's prime minister, who was once regarded as a visionary African leader and was appointed to the UK's Commission for Africa.
"Because of the situation, trust has broken down so we are trying to find other ways of doing it (funding)," another western development official said.
This was the first detailed confirmation of a general feeling that has been building up among donors since the November violence. In the weeks that followed the killings, lots of international organisations started looking at ways to re-direct their donations away from direct government budget support. Meetings with government bodies were cancelled. Phone calls went unanswered. Projects were quietly put on hold.
Then Ishac Diwan backed up all the background rumbling with some concrete figures. And the story started to spread - outside Ethiopia that is. Here is the story on Reuters, The Observer, the BBC, Voice of America and two from IRIN (here and here). The (London) Times waited a couple of days, then jumped into the fray yesterday with a full-page diatribe against the current regime - Blair's heroes of democracy who embraced oppression.
But what about if your only source of news are the official outlets inside Ethiopia?
Here are the headlines from the Ethiopian News Agency for December 29: ALFOZ to construct abattoir with over 50 million Birr; WFP calls 2005; Bishoftu town administration gives 17,300 square meters land to investors; UNICEF, three bureaus sign agreement providing to implement water supply; Prosecutor Files Charges Against 129 Defendants; Foreign Exchange Trade; Road fund earmarks over 480 million Birr to finance maintenance of roads; Participation of stake holders said crucial in inhancing economic importance of tourism; Minister calls for redoubled effort to tap power from coal, geothermal reserve.
Posted by aheavens at January 3, 2006 8:26 AM