Nov 24, 2023 - Ethiopia

Over the last twelve years, VNG International has worked together with Civil Society in Ethiopia to improve governance. Formal civil society—that is, organizations with legal personality—is a recent development in the country. Building on an opening of the civic space in Ethiopia, under ESAP, we partner with a wide range of civil society organizations to hold government in Ethiopia accountable to deliver efficient, inclusive and better targeted services. ESAP3 currently contracts over 70 local CSOs that are implementing partners (IPs) working on SA in 416 woredas, about 1/3rd of the country. During ESAP2 (2011-2018), over 110 CSOs were able to engage with local governments even under the by-then repressive CSO law. 

During a national learning seminar in November 2023, we brought together all these partners, the Ministry of Finance, World Bank, development partners, CSOs and local government representatives. The title of the event was “It is not by Chance: From Participation to Engagement”, was aimed at ensuring commitment for both the closing of the programme in Ethiopia, scheduled for 2024, as well as after the end of the programme. It was an important step in formalizing and institutionalizing our approach of participatory planning and budgeting between citizens, service providers and government – which takes commitment from all stakeholders at the table. 

It is now time to take these lessons to outside of the ESAP programme. An important step during the event was by engaging Sheger FM, a local radio station, that during the event hosted a show called “Who to ask what?” where we piloted an interactive approach through radio where service users can call in to their service providers. It has shown that citizens are now more aware of their rights, and vocal about demanding these rights. 

ESAP3, being implemented by 75 local CSOs in 416 woredas throughout the country, is expected to phase out in May 2024. A closing event, open to the public, is being planned for early March 2024.

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