Study shows inequitable distribution of CSO projects in regional states | The journalist

A new study reveals wide variations in the number of projects implemented by CSOs from region to region.

The third CSO mapping study was conducted between 2015 and 2021, launched last week, it indicated that the number of projects implemented in the Tigray region increased by 350%, while the Somali and Harari regions experienced a decrease of 50%.

Although there has been a decrease in the number of projects in the six regions, the total amount of funding committed to projects across Ethiopia has increased by 120%. The total amount of project budget increased from 35.7 billion birr to 78.7 billion birr from 2014 to 2021, while the total number of projects implemented by CSOs in the country only increased by 15%.

The CSO mapping study is conducted every five years and is used as a benchmark for related activities by government, donors and CSOs themselves. The first study was conducted in 2008, followed by a second in 2014.

The third study was carried out with funds from the EU, British aid, the Swedish Embassy and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is a study implemented by the Authority for Civil Society Organizations with the European Civil Society Fund III (EUCSF III) and the Civil Society Support Program II (CSSP II) of the BritishCouncil.

Debebe Hailegebriel, a member of the House of Federation Constitutional Inquiry Board and a renowned lawyer, led the study, which lasted about six months. The study was delayed for a year and was finalized in early 2022. However, the study’s hard copy publication process delayed its launch.

“Even if the launch is delayed for several months, the findings of the study may represent the facts on the ground without significant change. It is compiled to be referenced for the next five years,” Debebe said. The journalist.

The number of CSO projects and their funding show a significant shift across regions in recent years. The number of projects in six regions, including Somalia, Harari and Amhara, has declined over a six-year period, the study found.

In Somalia, the second largest region after Oromia, of the total 51 projects that have agreements with the regional government lasting from 2018 to 2026, 21 have already been scrapped. While seven of the remaining projects had less than a year to complete, two projects will remain over four years. Only eight projects are expected to be implemented from 2022 to 2026, according to the study.

In the Harari region, the number of NGOs operating in the region, 31, has not changed over the past six years. The number of CSOs operating in the region fell by 26%. In 2014, the budget for projects in the Harari region was 264 million birr.

In 2021, the total project budget in the region decreased by 68.1% to 84.1 million birr.

On the contrary, the Tigray region saw a large number of CSO projects flowing in over the six-year period. Between 2014 and 2021, it grew by 350%, followed by Benishangul Gumuz region, which grew by 100%.

For Debebe, who participated in the last two studies, the difference between the regions can be attributed to the variation in the implementation of the previous CSO law in the regions.

“Some regions, like the Amhara region, adopted the previous proclamation even more strictly, while regions like Oromia were somewhat flexible. Officials in Oromia region were against the proclamation,” Debebe said.

The previous CSO proclamation, which was superseded in 2019, has been a major stumbling block for CSOs active in the country, particularly in relation to advocacy. Currently, there are over 4,200 federally registered CSOs, of which over 2,000 were newly formed as a result of the relaxed proclamation.

However, the proclamation can only be executed for CSOs registered with the federal authorities and for CSOs from the two federal cities, Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa.

Of the 11 regional states in the country, only Benishangul Gumuz, Sidama and Gambella have ratified their forward-looking proclamations in line with the federal proclamation.

The CSO Authority has handed over a model draft law to all regional governments and is supporting them financially to help ratify the proclamation in a shorter timeframe, according to Fasikaw Molla, Deputy Director General of the Authority, who s is interviewed with The journalist last month.

However, laws are not the only reasons for the huge difference in CSO activities in different regions.

According to another study participant who asked to remain anonymous, the previous security situation in the Somali region contributed to CSOs’ lack of interest in the region. The participant added that the authorities in the Somali region would not want humanitarian organizations operating in the region if they did not employ a resident of the region.

The 350% increase in the Tigray region was made possible by the active support of the regional government and “a deliberate political-type push” on CSOs by some federal government authorities, according to the participant.

The development of subsidiary and regional CSO laws is the main recommendation of the study, highlighting the need for regional primary and secondary legislation since only a few have ratified their prospective CSO laws.

The CSO mapping study criticized CSOs operating in the country for relying on foreign aid for the vast majority of their funding. It recommends developing a culture of philanthropy and strengthening the engagement of CSOs in investment and revenue-generating activities to overcome their dependence on foreign aid.

Denise W. Whigham