A kick off meeting for the ESAP2 Bridging Phase was held on 26 May 2016 in Addis Ababa

The main purpose of the meeting was to ensure that SAIPs understand the grant agreement and targets of the Bridging Phase as well as the new modalities of the Management Agency. In his opening remarks, Rolf Hunink, Team Leader of ESAP2 said, “All the woredas will be subject to the Bridging Phase. The point is that we try to continue and consolidate the activities we have started with ESAP2 because we have the feeling that we are not even half way. I hope you will immediately start planning and implementing activities in the field.” 

Project Coordinators and Financial Officers of SAIPs discussed challenges faced in grant agreements, finance and internal audit along with the modified operations manual and quarterly report formats. In order to improve the quality of quarterly reports, it was announced that the Management Agency will organize a “Write Shop”, an event that will focus on training Project Coordinators to better document their organizations’ interesting activities. The workshop will additionally serve as a platform to share SA experiences among implementing partners.

Focusing on results sought in the Bridging Phase, SA expert with the Management Agency, Lucia Nass said, “The Bridging Phase aims to see some innovations compared to ESAP2, especially innovations that can help to scale SA within woredas and eventually to other woredas. This is very important for the design of the next big phase. How can we go from 5 kebeles to all the kebeles in a woreda? What kind of mechanisms can we use for that?”. Accordingly, the process of learning from all the 223 woredas through monitoring visits was emphasized, to complement one of the important objectives of the Bridging Phase – SAIPs innovative scaling of SA. As part of the MA’s new modality, it was revealed that a recently established network of Ethiopian Social Accountability Experts, SA consultants and CSO networks will serve as the MA’s plus team and involve in monitoring and capacity building while focusing on building their capacity for leadership functions in the next phase.

It was disclosed on the event that a communication campaign will be part of the Bridging Phase activities. The messages for the campaign have been designed to fit the government’s budget cycle and will be disseminated to citizens, service providers, sectors and elected council members to better enable them support SA initiatives.  

The expanded Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) and its planned linkage with ESAP2 was also part of the meeting’s agenda. Laura Campbell from the World Bank explained to participants about PSNP’s pilot program and its upcoming activities. She said, “PSNP is a multi-sectoral development program being implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture. It gives cash or food to people that are food insecure. There are 8 million people involved in the program and is being implemented in 319 woredas. The Ministry of Agriculture together with development partners saw SA as a big opportunity to improve the PSNP project. It’s been agreed on the steering committee meeting that PSNP should be a part of whatever is following ESAP2 and the Bridging Phase. Now, we are going to expand this pilot program that was in 4 woredas to 19 woredas. We plan to raise awareness of SA among PSNP implementers.”  It was disclosed that SAIPs that will be involved in the PSNP project will get additional financial resources and training. The learning benchmark that is planned in November, 2016 will have a separate learning activity focused on the PSNP pilot experiences. Towards the end of the program, the MA plans to have a paper focused on the findings and lessons of PSNP during the Bridging Phase.

The event also saw the announcement of this year’s Communication and Documentation awards. The Management Agency introduced a new category that focuses on theatre for Social Accountability alongside the three existing categories of Social Accountability Heroes, Participatory video and Most Significant Change Story.

Finally, SAIPs were introduced to reporting requirements of the Bridging Phase, and gave feedback to datasheets drafted by the MA. They were pleased with the simplified and clear procedures and tools. Project coordinators and financial officers of SAIPs, members of the Management Agency, and a representative from MOFEC attended the kick-off meeting.