April 8, 2020
Title: Leap Through COVID-19 with Full Action Towards a Better Life
Bantyehun Tezazu, M.Eng., P.Eng., PMP, Electrical Engineering, University of Toronto, Canada Founder 4EPR Enterprise, (www.4epr.org)
Fekadu Fullas, RPh, PhD Research Preceptor; Clinical Pharmacist. UnityPoint Health, St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center, Sioux City, Iowa, USA (newsletter.p2pbridge.org)
Mammo Muchie, DST/NRF Research Professor on Science, Technology and Innovation, Faculty of Engineering , Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa (www.sarchi.org)
Abstract: Theplethora of challenging issues in Ethiopia require a coordinated action involving all the resources to engage the entire country. The Ethiopian situation requires mitigating the impact of COVID-19 and solving the deep-rooted socio-economic problems by handling them together, not just to get a reprieve only from the undetectable virus but to create the remedy to prevent any endemics and pandemics with the knowledge from origin, treatment and cure based on the foundation of building the wellbeing and livelihood of all the people at the same time. The country has to develop Full Action initiatives, goals, benefits, and performance quality outputs. The full action initiatives can have five goals: (1) saving people, the COVID-19 victims, with a competent health service setup, (2) controlling the virus exponential spread growth in large population centers with measures, (3) caring for those impacted due to the virus, and the ensuing actions, (4) recovering from the profound economic destruction of the virus actions, and (5) solving poverty and the associated ills decisively.
Full or Complete Action saves lives, reduces economic distress, reinforces unity, solidifies trust, engages the whole population, and unlocks human potential and all resources to drive leap change through handling COVID-19 systematically towards creating the wellbeing of all the people. The Full Action takes Ethiopia into a leap change through the following three interdependent parallel paths: (1) build on the national initiatives using all options, incorporating the lessons from the COVID-19 stricken countries, (2) direct the response to reach the most vulnerable people (80% of Ethiopians in scattered rural villages) in a way that is unique to Ethiopia, and (3) deploy the young people to raise awareness, create engagement and carry-out people centred innovative problem solving projects across the country.
Key words: COVID-19, Coronavirus 2, pandemic, HDI, Ethiopia, paradigm-shift, sustainable development
Ethiopia’s socio-economic situation to stand and deal with effectively COVID 19 attack at present can be paralleled to the military defense preparedness situation leading to the battle of Adwa. One hundred twenty-four years ago, Italian invaders armed with modern weapons came to colonize Ethiopia. Ethiopia, in the late 1890s, did not have a strong military defense that can stand the direct assault of thousands of Italian forces. Ethiopians depended on their faith and rallied behind their leaders with all their resources. At that time, love, care, unity, and unselfish passion of the men and women of all Ethiopia to fight together defeated the mighty invaders. In 1896 despite Ethiopia’s limitations to provide the necessary arms and supplies, thousands of its patriotic armies became colossi and decisively crushed the invaders and made history. COVID-19 is a challenge as the Ethiopian socio-economic situation, the communal culture, the limitations to create the social distance required to stop the spread of the virus are weak areas that require urgent emergency measures to address. However, the spontaneous responses of Ethiopians are encouraging by seeing the efforts for realizing the virus prevention measures such as washing hands services extended in the Addis Ababa streets and for keeping clean environments. Ethiopians united should be preparing once again to emerge victorious over COVID-19 as they did with their indefatigable unity for achieving the great Adwa victory decisively with the right precautions and directions. The health care, intelligence and united action garnered to fight the virus can serve for the renewal of the love, care, reconciliation and to make all Ethiopians work together and recommit to recover from the COVID-19 economic losses and address the plethora of challenges to bring sooner the Ethiopian full impeding progress and sustainable development.
Ethiopia, at present, is taking the high road of making reforms in all its socio-economic and political systems after escaping from the brink of collapse about two years ago. Unlike anytime before in the recent recorded history of the country, Ethiopia has released thousands of prisoners, allowed all political parties and interest groups to participate freely inside their country, repatriated banned groups to return, reached out to its citizens in foreign jails, started cleaning up mismanaged projects and put them into service. Two significant actions reverberated throughout the world. First, making peace with the neighboring countries and resolving wars and conflicts that helped the region to save lives and redirect war activity to improving living conditions. Second, planting over two billion trees in one year, including 352 million in one day, is a new, exemplary act for the world community to fight climate change. Engaging 23 million people throughout the country to act together for one cause with an ultimate purpose for all inhabitants of our planet is indeed very inspiring.
These gains did not come easily. There are still huge economic constraints in the country due to high unemployment, low productivity, scattered living of 80% of the population in subsistence agriculture with each person earning less than 2 USD per day. Consequently, the absence of essential products and services and the rising cost of living created frustrations and desperations and occasional conflicts between communities. Many selfish politicians have exploited these situations to start tribal and religious wars to take power. In the meantime, stunting of children, high mortality rates due to avoidable causes, and many other ills are continuing to cause immense suffering all over the country. There is also still ethnic based strife that has displaced millions of ordinary people. Ethiopia needs participatory democracy by prioritising the health, security and livelihood of the all the people without division on ethnic, religious, linguistic and other differences. The human rights of all come first with all the variety of differences integrated as part and parcel of the human right of all the Ethiopians to keep united to contribute enduring lessons they earned from Adwa victory.
Unnecessary wars have displaced many people; instead of working for togetherness, animosity consumes the brainpower of most elites. The threats from Egypt over the filling of the GERD is enormous stress preoccupying the minds of the people. Along with this are the COVID-19 measures that are under consideration following the examples from the developed countries. Work and business stoppage can close the livelihood of many people that will starve many people and kill many homeless in their unconventional shelters. Hence, to respond to COVID-19, all Ethiopians must address all the challenges together by making sure not to use this virus time to pursue their specific political interests.
II: Practical Actions in Major Population Centres
COVID-19 jumped from city to city across the globe owing to the interconnectedness of the world. Many countries minimized their damages, closing the virus entry gateways and implementing severe measures to contain spreads once the virus penetrated the cities. Governors and leaders waged huge educational campaigns alerting the people about the virus. Vibrant cities in Europe, North America and Asia came to a standstill. Governments told workers to stop work and stay home, with the exception of essential service providers. These Governments have the wealth to pass such strict measures. The Ethiopian Government has now declared the state of emergency and many countries are in the state of lockdown.
The Ethiopian efforts to contain the spread of the virus in Addis and other cities are encouraging. Most of the emphasis and initiatives in the country until now are educational campaigns. The different measures in place and most collaborations are centered on circumventing the likes of the human tragedy in Italy, Spain, New York and Wuhan.
Developed countries poured several billion dollars from government coffers to implement measures that keep people in their homes and closed businesses for weeks. In Ethiopia, poverty continues its deep grips, and most essentials remain unfulfilled. The Government does not have enough reserves to adopt the same kinds of measures as in developed countries. Yet, the range of creative actions in Ethiopia is showing results.
Ethiopia can take lessons from Sweden’s measures within its means and resources. According to BBC’s reporter Maddy Savage interview with the CBC radio program the Current, the measures in Sweden are purely educational reinforcing with continuous messages and building trust within the community for vigilance against the spread of the virus. Most business and schools are open. The people trust their government and follow the guidelines set in place to control the spread of COVID-19.
Actions to be done using small circles – Edir, Mahiber, church, mosque and kebele
- Build trust in the community to share, support one another, implement safety and cleanliness and similar measures within their small circles
- These circles create mechanisms to watch for potential carriers of the virus coming to their community. When one comes voluntarily isolate for 14 days to identify presence.
- Alert health service providers any suspected cases
- Produce protection devices like masks
- Collaborate in other creative ideas for their community
- Let these small circles create in doing the groundwork policing the agreed measures
III: Reaching out to the most vulnerable population
The Ethiopian population distribution and habitation pattern require special consideration. Eighty percent of the people are living in rural scattered villages. Such population distribution requires the country to broaden its focus.
The external virus must be stopped before it gets to the villages. If it gets there, there may not be much room for intervention. The absence of facilities and services makes this very difficult. The people will revert into their historical experiences (ከ 70 ዓመት በፊት የነበረው ወረርሽን), where people isolated those that had the virus and minimized their losses.
The actions of the kebele and the communities that were reported by AMTv need to be reinforced and expanded. The subsistence agriculture livelihood of these communities could enable them to continue their living if the virus is kept out. However, the return of university students to their homes, assuming all got home without infections, can be a good thing for the country. These students can raise awareness, engage people, and work in cooperative development projects with the community, as discussed below.
IV: Deploying the Young Population
In those locked communities or scattered rural villages, the students and teachers can be active players in both the pandemic fight and in the leap change to expedite the development and to circumvent the economic disaster caused by the actions of stopping virus spread. They can get original information from reliable websites and through the MoSHE Network. The latest knowledge about COVID-19 is widely available from the WHO website and many other sources from the Ministry of Health.
V: COVID-19 Lessons from Others
The nations of the world woke up to realize that when such disastrous challenges come, it is for every country to do its thing for its own people and not as a collaborative effort of everyone where they are in unison as a united global citizen. Most prosperous nations closed their border to outsiders.
They sent lifelines to their citizens that were spread all over the world at enormous costs leaving the host countries to scramble for themselves with their meager resources.
Many developed nations lost many lives in a harsh way due to COVID-19. The severe measures closing schools, workplaces, markets and most businesses obliterated the economy. The only action available is containing the spread, segregating the victims to recover with their natural body defences, and treating the severely ill in hospitals with life support systems. The countries that succeeded to minimize the loss of lives implemented fast early lockdowns of regions to minimize the spreading of the virus.
In Ethiopia, when this article was being prepared, there were two deaths due to COVID-19, with the number of infected people at 45. Three patients have recovered during the past four weeks. These figures are expected to change as more tests are carried out.
Globally, the enormous damage to the economy will be due to the shattered link in globalization or the interconnected economy and rupturing of the supply and demand chains. The intentional disruption measures that include the closing of workplaces, businesses, connections, and social functions and lockdown of cities and countries to stop the transmission and spread of the disease has saved millions of lives and helped to minimize disasters in many countries.
It is still premature to say what the end state of COVID-19 would be; it might die like a hurricane after uprooting and destroying anything weak and vulnerable in its path. In the worst case, it might mutate into other forms deceiving researchers and medicine developers, causing more damage for a longer time. In either case, those that had the necessary precaution strengthened systems, and a younger population could be spared and have a second chance at life.
We are far from the end and not time to write a post-mortem of COVID-19. We can mention a few significant lessons as references adjust our actions to build on our strengths and steer away from our weaknesses.
- COVID-19 is a pandemic that the countries of the world were not able to prepare in advance even after being exposed to three other epidemics during the past two decades.
- COVID-19 was a complex challenge that demanded dedicated sacrifices of frontline health services professionals who risked their lives to save or extend the life of their patients in all countries.
- COVID-19 was a test of the enduring capability of the world citizens to come together when a global pandemic strike. The test the world Governments citizen failed to react as one body. China and America are at loggerheads at a time when they should unite to address the virus.
- COVID-19 is a lesson to reorganize the world united movement to act together, defeat inequality, hatred, loneliness, and animosity aside and to mobilize all forces to overcome the virus that affect all or to stop it before it inflicts substantial damages as other pandemics have done in years past.
- COVID-19 was like the flood that destroyed the world. The Noah ship is the action of every country in the world that gathered its citizen and left the rest behind – the developing economies that had no reserves, minimal resources to implement stay at home directives and emergency rules with cheques in the mail for the non-working out of work citizens cannot afford unless all collaborate to deal with the virus together. Hence, they had reverted to their own local safeguards. The outpouring of human ingenuity and great sacrifices were displaced in many areas of the Addis Ababa streets.
VI: Management of COVID-19
The tsunamic pandemic has tested health systems all over the world. It has presented challenges to public health, therapeutics and vaccine development. The cornerstone for containing the outbreak has been personal barriers (masks and other protective equipment) and avoiding congregating (physical distancing). Various trials are underway to determine whether already existing medications that are used for other medical problems have benefits for treating Severe Acute Respiratory Coronavirus 2 (SAARS-CoV-2), which is the culprit that causes the disease COVID-19. A score of medications are being investigated. The other approach has been whether antibody-rich plasma obtained from convalescent (recovered) COVID-19 patients can alleviate the danger the disease in severely ill patients. There is also a rush to develop a vaccine against the virus, and it is estimated to take about a year to develop it and carry out trials before it can be available to the public. Vaccines are not used for treatment, but as preventative (prophylactic) agents against impending outbreaks in the future. There are no traditional medicines to date that are effective for COVID-19. Herbal and traditional medicine research and innovation should be included to deal with this corona virus. There is still a need to know the origin of the virus precisely to discover the cure. There is a need to create a Unified Knowledge Open Innovation Centre for virus prevention to create a healthy and sustainable world. The rich indigenous knowledge in Ethiopia has to be innovated to contribute to the health challenges by also creating economic opportunities for the indigenous knowledge innovators.
VII: What must be done in Africa/Ethiopia?
The elites, the leadership, and all the people know that their country needs to exhaust its capabilities before seeking the help of others. Aid seeking addiction has not stopped for the past several decades, crippling the people to remain dependent and not trying their very best to get out. The current unfortunate pandemic has created a challenging situation that could potentially dry aid at source and force developing countries to go on their own without prior notice.
Developing countries’ needs, being at the lower stage of human development are different and non-lucrative to attract high priced experts, researchers, and developers.
Consequently, these experts seldom do studies that are detailed enough to solve the problems of developing countries. At most, when a particular externally financed developing-world project arises, the experts force-fit developed world problem-solving approaches that are less than ideal or inapplicable resulting in unmet objectives.
Doing the research right and coming with a complete and appropriate solution using the resources in developed countries require enormous resources that are unaffordable making the projects infeasible. At this time, the skillset and the means and ways to reach the kind of programs and projects that need to be done in developing countries are widely and freely available over the world wide web. Groups of highly motivated, responsible, and locally trained citizens can figure out and build the infrastructure the country needs. We must strive to seize the opportunities technology created for all people at present. In essence, work to be done as follows are:
- The focus now is to revamp the conditions, the thinking, conceptualizing, goal-setting, planning, and executing processes for the vast population and, for that matter, the growing marketplace in Ethiopia and the rest of Africa?
- It requires breaking chains of norms, standards, rigid and disciplined processes created for socio-economically and technologically advanced society.
- It requires focusing on breaking the veils that masked people to live in several centuries-old conditions in the 21st century complacently.
- It requires creating carefully scripted programs that unravel complex selfish, greedy, and corrupt interest webs that want to keep the status quo with all its tricks, chains, and machinery.
VII: The Focus
How can the rise of Ethiopia be triggered in the post-COVID-19 era? As the world tries to recover from months of loss and tremendous challenge, everyone is in their ground zero, with their priorities, it is likely donations and generosity might dry up. Hence, it is up to the people themselves to awaken their natural potential and get it in motion.
Do we believe in creating equality, prosperity, and an improved standard of living for our people? Do we think that the people living in rural Ethiopia have demands, wishes, and aspirations to live a healthy, safe, comfortable and efficient, call it collectively, a modern life? Do we genuinely believe that the people in scattered rural villages have the human right to live a modern life?
What does it take to make this happen? Aid that has usually been strings attached, and often more benefiting the donor than the receiver has not significantly changed society in the past six decades. So, what would work now? What would make it work? Why? What means will the people require to overcome all the obstacles and leap into the same states or living conditions as other people in developed countries?
Answers to all the above and related questions, including fighting COVID-19, leaping through COVID-19 to a better life for all its citizens, require a paradigm shift.
VII: The Paradigm-Shift and Mind-Set Changes
- Ethiopians must renew their resolve, commitment, and rise to sacrifice for the wellbeing of all the people for an improved standard of living, to solve all essential needs, and ready for predictable and unpredictable threats.
- Decades of complacency, living with unfulfilled essentials, staying at the bottom of the heap in the human development index, and always vying for external help to stay afloat must stop.
- There are countless ways and resources to get us started and reach whatever stage we desire to achieve and to get out of the mess.
- Ethiopians must set the goals to reach and plot the course on how to get there with an iron will and firm conviction.
- The young population that accounts for 70% of the people must rise and take ownership of the challenges and threats affecting their livelihood and the country’s future.
- Looking at other countries for opportunities and aids has contributed something in the past, but not to the desired extent the country ought to have. The impact of COVID-19 in previous donors’ countries may have dried up aid to count on it. Hence let all stakeholders in Ethiopia commit to solve all the problems rather than create them.
- The most significant and most valuable resource comes from the people themselves. In the country’s history, people have demonstrated the most power when they come together with resolve as exhibited at the battle of Adwa. It is the unity spirit and way all Ethiopians must keep learning to solve problems decisively and speedily including the current corona virus global plague.
IX: Responsibilities of the young population in Ethiopia Problems Cause Net Benefits Actions
- The Ethiopian youth must be reminded about their upbringing to initiate them to upgrade it as an opportunity for future life. They must be told and realize how their counterparts in developed countries and in few higher class families in Ethiopia grew up with jump starts. Some include the following.
- The children are brought up with fundamental knowledge using all available tools right from their infancy.
- Many of these children before going to grade one have usually acquired literacy and numeracy skills at home or in kindergartens.
- Parents would have read them child appropriate self-building stories and formed thinking, inquisition and learning habits in their children.
- They must know the true facts about their country in order to solve the problems, develop ambitions, purpose and area of study with interest, passion and conviction.
- Most students do not know the kinds of knowledge and skills necessary for their country, to compete in the world and emulate national and international role models in different fields.
- In short, the children are pushed to memorize and pass exams from grade to grade through out their education journey.
- The very small lucky ones that had exposure through some connections or from the stories of acquaintances managed to reach higher positions.
- It is their future and their opportunity to solve poverty in the country.
- Most went through the problems, but they were brought up as normal way of life that has always been beyond their families and ancestors’ control
- They had no way of comparing it with others because they have no reference and not exposed
- The school systems covered the basic dry or non-applied courses and the situation has continued till university
- Even in university the internationally reported numbers are complicated to understand
- Politicians and their experts have not reported the explicit figures
- They will open their eyes and ears to grasp the hardships and living conditions of their families and relatives after experiencing university life with running water and all amenities of modern life. Their going back and some timely guidance enabling them to observe about the absence of essentials and their impact would wake their conscious and motivate them to act. While they are there, they must be informed about
- stunting of Ethiopian children,
- high death rate of children due to polluted air in their homes caused by burning wood and animal dung,
- children dying due to waterborne diseases and absence of sanitation facilities
- the hard work their people are doing
- They can establish autonomous teams with members with the desired skill, like start-up companies.
- Successful start-ups thrive because they are built as autonomous, and free of bureaucratic chains for effective communication and collaborative action to get things done on time and within the least resources.
- There are resources and skills in the country that can quickly grasp the lessons and function at desired skill levels. In other words, the pool of young anxious, ambitious, and willing citizens in the country is so large that with intensive training and skills development, many can perform on functions at different levels of operation in any field. The exception and challenge at the start would be the acquisition of some high professional skills, leaders, and entrepreneurs that have the conviction to overcome such limits and other obstacles through various means. What is required is carrying out motivational workshops in many areas across the country to awaken the inner zeal in every citizen. Many of the youth pool that has gone through the universities have tremendous survival skills coming from rural families through hardship and high endurance.
- The mindset of many leaders and government officials must have a leap of faith to assimilate positive attitudes to earn the trust of the citizens. For example, leaders from now on must think hard before awarding long-term contracts to foreigners for development projects without giving high priority to their citizens. When the country can produce skilled citizens that can do the job within five years, it will be highly not in Ethiopia’s interest to sign twenty-year and more extended contracts at huge costs with external contractors. Being transparent and paying the local contractors/workers the same or equivalent benefits will raise confidence in self-esteem and builds integrity and Ethiopian feeling.
- The youth must know about Ethiopian role models and other heroes to emulate and build up on their achievements. These role models can serve as guides, mentors, coaches in the virtually interconnected world.
X: Ethiopian Role Models and The Way Forward
There are two types of role models, performance and successful role models. Performance role models exhibit excellence in their skills and their genius intellectual capabilities. Role models in performance skills include athletes that excelled in their sports to become world champions, business-people that rose from rugs to billionaires, and individual leaders and scientists that are heads in prominent institutions and published many papers and books. Success role models for Ethiopia are those that have changed the lives of millions of Ethiopians through their genuine efforts. There are many Ethiopians that fit these categories, but owing to the low stage of human development the country is in, the country is still looking for transformation leaders and geniuses that engage the people and enable it to make leaps in the human development world ranking.
Ethiopia has many high achievers, with impeccable performance records at the world stage, that made it from rural villages to be leaders in internationally renowned organizations. These are role models in the realm of winning and getting to the top even outside their countries. Getting to this stage has its enormous challenges and obstacles, and aspiring youth can learn how strong-willed Ethiopians can compete and prevail over the best candidates in their countries. The contributions these individuals made have enriched the institutions they worked for, with less effect on the success of the Ethiopian people.
Opportunities to measure success performing in a well-suited environment is excellent, those that achieved results that may not be to the same degree in unsuited, obstructing, and destructing environment and in debilitating conditions are heroes. Ethiopia wants its elites in and outside the country to be heroes. The cocooning together of diaspora elites to help their country of origin in its distress moment is uplifting. With the collective actions of all Ethiopians and its Diaspora and friends, Ethiopia can make compact action and leap through COVID-19 to a better life for all its citizens.
XI: What we Can commit to do
- We will back what we say with educational workshops and seminars on various disciplines including innovation, Business case development, project management and various types of planning.
- Techniques of Creating teams and setting them up for success.
- We will conduct webinars to provide you details in a virtual setting.
- We will produce training and educational manuals
- We will walk you through the integrated approach for leap change that will help Ethiopia contain the COVID-19 damage and be in a good position to create a complete life for all.
We form our foresight about the future by asking pertinent questions into different scenarios of future events, to weigh the benefits and setbacks each situation might cause, and to layout plausible responses and actions for navigating towards our desired end-states. Foresight is a journey beyond the present that gets harder and increasingly uncertain as we travel far in space and time.
The repetitive nature of human life is mostly an evolutionary process with random minor perturbations and occasionally disrupted with irregular radical and revolutionary transitions. As we try our best with all we have and using all the tricks in our hands to stay alive during this latest COVID-19 monumental pandemic, we forget to prepare for what might come next. A weakened system with completely broken lifelines can lead us to our complete demise. The time we have in each of our shacks, waiting to escape the death wave, must be devoted to build our foresight and leap higher with our might towards a better life.
Finally, research evaluation is urgently necessary to make sense from the massive outpouring on this virus by recognising which is fact and which is fiction which the world is now awash with a variety of media coverage including fake news and contradictory claims driven by conflicting interests. The research has to be done to explain reflectively, scientifically, analytically and critically by identifying and evaluating with clarity the weakness and strength of the different versions of the origin of corona virus (COVID-19). How it originated, how it spreads and how it takes varied forms need to be clearly articulated to find ways to control or find the right prevention. Fake vaccines to experiment on Africans must be avoided by making sure no drugs from pharmaceuticals must be exported without thorough tests and validation by the health and government sectors especially from Africa. There is a need to articulate how R & D should be allocated to undertake for both indigenous knowledge and the scientific laboratory examination of any other vaccines to discover remedies to control the virus. There is a need even during this lockdown time the health demand and the economy do not conflict but they are dealt with to achieve mutually beneficial win-win outcome in all spheres such as the social, medical, economic and environmental spheres of life
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 Relative low number of COVID-19 cases, only 45 reported until April 6, 2020. Twitter #COVID19Ethiopia status
 The interview was aired on the CBC Radio program the Current on April 6,2020.
 Ethiopian community small circles, for this paper, are the self-help associations created by neighbours. Edirs are created to help members at the time of the death of a family member, or for the celebration of a member’s special event. Mahiber is created by people with common interest/purpose not necessarily living in close proximity. Kebele is the name of a sub-district created by a local government that serves the needs of the community and enforces the laws. People organized by their neighborhood church, mosque or any other religious beliefs are also categorized as small circles.
 ETV 57 Amharic News, April 6, 2020
 The Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary measure of achievements in three key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living. http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/human-development-index-hdi