10 Jun
Written by 

Civil Society under the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP)

The GTP has recognized the contributions of the Ethiopian civil society sector to date and provided for their role in the development planning period covered by the document. Generally, such recognition relates to resource mobilization, implementation of social sector programmes, capacity building and good governance, and cross-cutting sectors (especially women’s and children’s affairs, youth development and social welfare).

A) Financing

The implementation of the GTP requires substantive domestic and external resources to finance the anticipated budget deficit. The contributions of NGOs in addressing the financing gap has been anticipated by the GTP based on experience during the SDPRP and PASDEP periods. In describing the role of the private sector and the public, the GTP states: (GTP, p 44)

 Accordingly, in the next five years, the private sector, the public and non-government organizations are expected to play a more active role and thereby significantly contribute to the success of the GTP. The contribution … is therefore included as one critical element of the country’s overall capacity to finance the GTP.”

 The perceived “good relationship between the government and development partners” (GTP, p. 122) has also been identified among the opportunities in mobilizing the financial resources for the implementation of the GTP. Conversely, the government is committed to strengthening the “contributions of local and international NGOs and CBOs in the implementation of the development plan” risks pertaining to the mobilization of external resources. (GTP, p. 123)

B) Social Sectors

The achievement of ambitious social goals stipulated in the GTP has to take into account the past and current contribution of civil society as well as their potential for the future. This is particularly true for current areas of civil society engagement in education and training, gender parity, special needs education, alternative basic education, etc … A large number of charities and societies are currently implementing interventions in the education, health and other social sectors (See annexed Table on sectoral distribution of projects). CSOs have established and manage education and health institutions at all levels. Examples include the Hope University established by Hope Enterprises, an organization affiliated to the EOC. Similarly, the HIV/AIDS Policy and subsequent strategic plans recognize the role of the civil society sector in financing and implementation of the national response to the epidemic. This has been indicated in the GTP.

The implementation strategies for ‘Education and Training’ under the GTP include encouraging “the private sector, NGOs and the community” to open secondary schools. (GTP, p 90) The GTP also recognizes “the promotion of private sector and NGOs participation in the health sector” among the core elements of the health sector strategy (GTP, p. 92) and emphasizes the increasing importance of “the partnership and networking between the government and NGOs and civil society and private sector organizations engaged in heath related activities … in enhancing implementation of the program” (GTP, p. 92). As such, in describing the implementation strategies for the health sector, the GTP states that: (GTP, p. 92)

In addition, the health sector will forge strong partnership and create a coordination mechanism to ensure that there will be conducive environment for the Development Partners and NGOs/CSOs/Private sectors to enhance scaling up of interventions during the strategic period.

C) Capacity Building and Good Governance

The role of society organizations, especially mass based associations in capacity building and promoting good governance has been explicitly recognized in the GTP. With a view to ensuring citizens’ participation in local governance and development decision making, the GTP stipulates measures to: (GTP, pp. 96-97)

 - “create an enabling environment for professional and public associations to enable them to protect and promote their rights and benefits,

 - introduce and make operational institutional and organizational mechanisms, … for professional and public associations, to encourage and ensure full public participation in the formulation and evaluation of government policies, strategies and development plans,

 - support professional and public associations and organizations in their effort to build inter-organizational initiatives that promotes principles contributing to democratization such as tolerance, respect for the rule of law, etc …”

The role of CBOs in enhancing public participation has especially been emphasized in the GTP. In setting the major goals for ‘capacity building and good governance’, the GTP recognizes gaps and stipulates the need for further improvements in the participation of CBOs. (GTP, pp. 98-99) To this end, it provides for specific actions “to expand democracy and good governance through the participation of community based organizations (CBOs)” including “the involvement of cooperatives, professional associations, and other CBOs” as well as measures “to strengthen the degree and consistency of public participation”. More specific to democracy and good governance, the GTP section on implementation strategies for ‘Strengthening the Democratic System’ provides that: (GTP, p. 106)

 The participation of CBOs and the public at large in development planning, implementation and monitoring will be strengthened. Directives and laws that will support the functioning of CBOs and professional associations will be put in place … Participation of CBOs and stakeholders in the development process will be strengthened”.

The GTP reference to encouraging public participation in media broadcast through support to shared ownership in the form of ‘community broadcasting’ (GTP, p. 108) could also be interpreted as a commitment to encourage the community radio programmes initiated and supported by CSOs such as EHRCEPA. These and other information, communication and media initiatives of charities and societies are obviously essential in enhancing public participation in the implementation of the GTP itself.

D) Cross Cutting Sectors

The GTP recognizes the role of civil society in gender and children affairs, though in a somewhat indirect manner. The contributions of CSOs are implicit in the emphasis given to the ratification of international and regional agreements as well as harmonization into the domestic human rights system, interventions against HTPs affecting women and children, etc ... The past and current areas of civil society engagement also align with the GTP in such a way that the potential for contributions for the achievement of GTP targets for gender and development and children’s affairs is clearly evident. (See: Table 43 – GTP Targets for Gender Development and Children’s Affairs)

More explicitly, the key strategies adopted for women’s affairs under the GTP are coined in terms of strengthening women’s associations and organizations, creating a more conducive environment for the active participation of women in development and governance programs through their associations and organizations, and effective coordination of women’s associations and organizations to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of women’s participation. (GTP, p. 111) The implementation strategies for youth development similarly focus on “strengthening of youth associations and organizations” towards ensuring the “all rounded participation” of the youth in development processes as well as the formation of coalitions and cooperation with stakeholders in the implementation of the youth package. (GTP, p. 112)

 

The role of civil society in the provision of social welfare services has been mentioned in the GTP, especially in relation to care and support programs for vulnerable social groups. For instance, in identifying the targets for social welfare, the GTP underlines the critical role of “the coordinated efforts of the community, people with disability, the elderly, the government and non-governmental agencies” and states that “NGO care and support programs for the elderly will be encouraged” as an integral part of the implementation strategies adopted for the sector. (GTP, p. 114)

Ghetnet Metiku Woldegiorgis

I was born in 1975, long before most of you (young Ethiopian Lawyers); graduated from AAU Law Faculty in 1997. I have been working in civil society, the public sector (2 years at the Mekelle University Law Faculty), and in the private sector with consultancy firms. I am currently earning my bread as a freelance socio-legal researcher with multiple institutions. I love research, even for its own sake.