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Posts Tagged ‘Civil society’

Summer 2012 has been a busy one in Addis.  My time has been split doing work for VSO Ethiopia and for the Cafod/Sciaf/Trocaire Joint Ethiopia Office.  Here is a summary of what I have been up to over the last few months:

 

Task 1 – SCIAF (Scottish arm of Caritasapplication for independent registration with the Government of Ethiopia’s Charities and Services Association submitted

International non-governmental organisations wishing to operate in Ethiopia must register and be licensed by the Government of Ethiopia’s Charities and Services Association.  Cafod, Sciaf, and Trocaire operate a joint office in Ethiopia and in the past have been able to register with the CSA jointly as well.  This year the CSA demanded that each register separately and distinguish which projects each organisation is responsible for funding.  In order to complete the narrative of SCIAF’s application to the CSA, I interviewed each of the Senior Programme managers in the CST joint office to learn about which projects received funding from SCIAF.  The four project areas supported by the CST joint office are:  Humanitarian, Sustainable Livelihoods, HIV/AIDS, and Civil Society. Although SCIAF is the smallest partner in the joint Ethiopia office, they support elements of projects in each of the programme areas.  SCIAF’s application for registration with the CSA was submitted at the end of August 2012. 

 

Task 2 – €500 000 matching funds application for Oromia Self Reliance Association to expand water infrastructure in the Borana region of southern Ethiopia sent to CAFOD

The lack of potable water supply in Oromia National Regional State, South West Shewa Zone, Wolisso and Goro districts is the source of ongoing problems in the area. Water supply and sanitation coverage in the districts is low and the majority of the people rely on surface water such as small streams and unprotected traditional hand dug wells, which are not potable, to get water for human and livestock consumption.  Moreover, sanitation and hygiene education coverage in the district is low.

Women and children who assume the responsibility of fetching water are the most affected portion of the community enduring hardship from the lack of this facilities. They have to travel long distance to fetch unpotable water for household consumption.  As a result, the communities are exposed to water borne diseases, such as diarrhoea, endangering their health status.  Schools and students will also benefit from this project as lack of water supply and sanitation facilities are also one of the critical problems of schools in rural areas in the target districts.

The Oromia Self Reliance Association aims to expand water infrastructure in the area by:

  • Developing of 18 shallow water wells. It is planned to develop 12 community managed water wells and 6 schools based water wells for 6 target schools during the three year project period.
  • Constructing of wellheads and distribution structures for community and schools, respectively
  • Constructing 12 community managed shower blocks and 12 washing basins
  • Training community members on hygiene and sanitation, Community led total sanitation (CLTS), participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation(PHAST) approaches
  • Constructing 12 blocks of child and gender friendly ventilated improved latrine blocks for students and teachers
  • Establishing and training WATSAN committees, local water technicians, health clubs
  • Conducting baseline assessment and feasibility studies for the water sources
  • Conducting environmental and gender analysis of the project
  • Training of  health/environmental clubs members in the schools to support hygiene and sanitation activities including outreach activities
  • Organising and support 360 poor women in to self help groups and provide them with entrepreneurial skill training so that they will be engaged in income generating activities

 

Task 3 – Google web developer tools to raise the quality of hits for Google searches of CAFOD/SCIAF/Trocaire employed

Conducting a search using google for “CAFOD SCIAF Trocaire Ethiopia”, “CST Joint Office”, or any combination of these terms returned results limited to expired job postings on Ethiopian employment websites and little information about activities undertaken by the organisation.  Using my blog and google web developer tools. I have changed the search results for these terms so that the results now contain details of projects at the CAFOD/SCIAF/Trocaire Joint Ethiopia Office.

 

Task 4 –   Destinations for those Google searches created

In addition to creating the pathways for google searches, I also created the content contained at the destination by writing visibility brochures, and project summaries of projects at the CST Joint Ethiopia Office and posting them on my blog.  The visibility brochures are available for viewing at https://morenewsfromafar.wordpress.com

 

Task 5 – Planned, tailored and delivered English classes to the staff at CAFOD/SCIAF/Trocaire Joint Ethiopia Office

English classes were designed for and delivered to staff at the CST Joint Ethiopia Office.  Advanced and upper intermediate conversation classes were offered, along with specialised classes to improve listening and writing skills, and idiomatic English.  We discussed everyday topics, such as the difference between living in the city and the country:

We sang some songs:

We watched some episodes of ‘Friends’

And we practised writing:

Task 6 – Results-based Management training

Results-based management training has equipped me with the tools necessary to organise and present my work in a manner consistent with international development organisations.  The most useful tool in my new management toolkit is the logic model:

Task 7 – Interviewed candidates for the International Citizenship Service (ICS) programme

ICS is a youth volunteer programme funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).  It pairs UK youth volunteers with Ethiopian youth volunteers and places them in local work environments in Ethiopia.  Over the summer I had the opportunity to interview candidates to serve as Ethiopian national volunteers in this program.  It was great to learn about the ICS programme, as well as to meet some highly motivated and talented young Ethiopians. 

Task 8 – Planned and facilitated September In-country Training for incoming VSO volunteers

Thirty-five new volunteers and accompanying partners arrived in mid-September for a twelve day training at the Ethiopian Red Cross Training Institute in a suburb just outside of Addis Ababa.  The training was facilitated by myself and two other serving VSO volunteers.  Delivering to an audience comprised of teachers, doctors, midwives, engineers and architects was somewhat daunting, but made easier by everyone’s positivity and flexibility.  The days were long, but the job satisfaction level was very high. 

 

The summer is not quite over, and there is still a workshop to conduct next week for Ethiopian partner organisations participating in the inaugural ICS programme in Hawassa in January.  But my time in the city is winding down and soon I’ll be back in the desert. 

 

 

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The question of whether international development programmes should aim to strengthen civil society is a tricky one to answer in Ethiopia.  Organisations are allowed to engage in civil society strengthening activities as long as they raise the funds for their organisations from domestic sources.  This limits the ability of foreign governments to influence these policy spheres.  After all, what sovereign country wants to have foreign values imposed on it?  The flipside is that if civil society is ignored by the government, no local efforts to strengthen it may take place at all, and civil society may decay. 

Another important issue regarding development programmes is whether non-governmental organisations should be compelled to limit the percentage of their budgets spent on administrative costs.  Limiting administrative expenditures means that Ngos cannot fill their offices with redundant staff being paid good salaries.  But what constitutes administration?  Is the cost of a teacher conducting a workshop on learner-centred pedagogy considered administrative?  Interpreting ‘administrative’ to mean anything that is not tangible has the potential to limit efforts to improve Ethiopian civil society.

The second phase of the CAFOD/SCIAF/TROCAIRE Joint Ethiopia Office (CST–JEP) Civil Society Programme was initiated in October 2009, and targeted ten Civil Society Organisations. The goal of the programme was to promote the effective representation of Ethiopian citizens through active participation and engagement in civil society networks.  In turn, the programme aimed to facilitate dialogue with government in formulating policy.  CST-JEP intended to achieve this by building capacity within the ten partner organizations.  This three year programme was aimed at institutionalising accountability and transparency in the ten targeted organisations, promoting linkages among them, harmonising and coordinating their national and regional networks, and developing constructive and sustainable relations with government.

One of the major challenges of governance in Ethiopia is achieving downward accountability, with authorities and institutions held accountable to citizens and communities, rather than simply towing the party line.  Institutionalised downward accountability will ensure a more effective and transparent local government that is responsive to citizens.  Civil society organizations should be catalysts in empowering communities and proactively engaging all levels of government.  The cumulative effect of this will be a more inclusive, participatory and sustainable development process.  Yet Civil Society Organisations have difficulty making progress in their efforts on this front due to a relatively recent governmental proclamation which has altered the regulatory environment in which they operate.

The Charities and Societies Proclamation (CSP) enacted by the Government of Ethiopia in early 2009 has created a fundamental change in the legal and institutional setup for operating Civil Society Organisations, by classifying them into categories based on their source of funding, and by limiting their activities based on those funding sources.  The goal of the proclamation is to limit the influence of foreign-funded agencies and to empower locally-funded ones. The proclamation established the Charities and Societies Agency (ChSA) and granted the institution wide-ranging discretionary powers governing the activities of Civil Society Organisations.  Uncertainty surrounding the status of foreign-funded institutions has been compounded as regional governments work to adapt their regulatory policies to match the demands of the CSP.

Foreign assistance in fields such as drought recovery and sustainable livelihoods are welcome, but Article 2 of the Proclamation has identified several “no-go areas” for organisations that receive more than 10% of their funding from foreign sources.  The list of prohibited areas includes a broad range of issues: human rights, justice and women’s rights. For Civil Society Organisations to engage in activities related to these areas, they need to register as an Ethiopian Society or Charity, and raise at least 90% of their operating budget from Ethiopian sources.  This entrenches the sovereignty of the Ethiopian government in formulating policy within these areas.  It also means that Civil Society Organisations registered with the Charities and Societies Agency that receive more than 10% of their budget from international sources are barred from engaging in activities promoting human rights, justice, and women’s rights.

Facilitating trust building and positively communicating with all levels of government are the keys to strengthening Ethiopian civil society. Civil Society Organisations need to cultivate constructive engagement with the government and learn how to creatively link advocacy and policy dialogue with service delivery interventions implemented at the local level.  The support should focus on internal governance; constituency building; local fund raising and income generation; evidence-based research; and practical skills on lobbying and policy dialogue.  Only this way can long–term sustainability be ensured and Ethiopian civil society’s dependency on foreign funding be reduced.

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