Ethiopia Natural Resources
Ethiopia has abundant natural resources, such as land, minerals, and gas. Gold, copper, potash, platinum, and natural gas lie beneath the surface of the earth in this part of the world, and in 2012, mining reportedly contributed US $500 million to the country’s economy. But mining is still a small contributor.
Water is an important natural resource. Ethiopia has 12 river basins that give the potential for irrigation and hydropower. (Hydropower is the only source of power in the country.) However, when rainfall is low or non-existent, rivers can dry up, threatening crops and taking away the only source of electricity.
In the Afar Region, salt is a big natural resource. The Afar people have been mining salt for countless years and it provides a source of revenue for them. The salt is taken from the earth and transported by camel and donkey to be sold. Salt is so important in Ethiopia that blocks of salt used to be used as money all over the country!
There is a need to make better use of the natural resources in Ethiopia. Soil degradation and erosion are both issues, as is deforestation. About 30% of Ethiopia used to be forested and now less than 5% of the country is forest. The forests have been almost completely destroyed because people needed the land for cultivation and grazing and they needed the wood for construction and/or fuel. Since most people rely on burning fuel to do their cooking, they now need to use things that would normally improve the quality of the soil, such as dung. These problems feed one another and present big challenges to those trying to improve and protect Ethiopia’s natural resources.