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Thu, 11 Oct 2018 12:14 - Updated Thu, 11 Oct 2018 12:14

In bid for healthier cities, Ethiopia aims to boost urban green

ADDIS ABABA - When Habtamu Worku left his hometown of Bahir Dar seven years ago and moved 550 kilometers (340 miles) south to Addis Ababa, he quickly grew to like the city of 5 million people.

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Except for one thing: the ubiquitous air pollution that is a constant problem for the residents of Ethiopia’s capital.

The combination of smoke from numerous factories dotted around the city, exhaust from the old-model cars that jam the roads and heat coming off buildings can make commuting a miserable experience, Worku said.

“When I came to Addis Ababa, the first thing that struck me is how little space is given to green spaces in contrast to my home city,” said the 27-year-old.

More of those are what “Addis Ababa sorely needs if it’s to create a healthy, functioning, liveable metropolis”, he said.

For the past few years, several regions and cities in Ethiopia have been planting trees and increasing green spaces to improve the lives of their residents.

Now the Ministry of Forestry, Environment and Climate Change (MoFEC) wants to build an integrated approach among local, regional and federal government institutions to spread the benefits of urban greening to even the most congested cities.

Those benefits can include a cooler and shadier environment; less noise pollution as trees muffle the sounds of traffic, loud music and factories; - and fewer climate changing emissions in the atmosphere.

“If you have two matured trees, they can absorb one ton of carbon annually,” said Yitbetu Moges, the national representative for REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) at the ministry.

By getting authorities at various levels and in different parts of the country to work together on urban greening, the ministry aims to not only make Ethiopia’s cities healthier, but also strengthen efforts to curb climate change and adapt to its impacts.

That would be a major step toward reaching Ethiopia’s goal of building a net-zero carbon economy by 2025, Moges said,REUTERS.

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