Ethiopian NGOs Sign Country’s First Large Scale Social Accountability Grants

Thirteen NGOs wrote history by signing Ethiopia’s first social accountability grants on Friday in the heart of Addis Ababa. The signing inaugurates the start of ESAP2 – Ethiopia Social Accountability Program phase 2.

The Ethiopia Social Accountability Program seeks to give voice to the needs and concerns of all citizens in the areas of education, health, water and sanitation, agriculture and rural roads – by linking citizens group and governments to work together on the delivery and quality of public basic services.

“We will work in more than 400 woredas to improve services that are important in our daily lives,” says ESAP2 team leader Gerard van Mourik. “Vulnerable groups such as the elderly, people living with HIV, women and disbled men and women are especially targeted to be included in this program.”

Social accountability can be understood as a process by which ordinary citizens, who are the users of public services, voice their needs, preferences and demands and create opportunities to hold policy-makers and service providers accountable for their performances. In the Ethiopian context, social accountability must be understood in relation to the Woreda level governance structure.

One of the organizations receiving an ESAP2 grant is women’s organization NEWA. NEWA social accountability work will be active in 5 Woredas spread out over three different regions in Ethiopia. Saba Gebremedhin is NEWA’s director who signed the contract on behalf of her organization.

“I find this program very interesting as it works on both sides for the country,” says Saba, “although the government is very serious about development, we see problems. Not only because of capacity but also because there is a lack of awareness. Together we can create services that are better serving the demands of our people.”

ESAP2 comes after the pilot version that functioned as a trial in 2006. In an effort to reduce poverty and enhance decentralized public service delivery to the poor, the Government of Ethiopia, with the support of international development partners, embarked on a project known as the Protection of Basic Social Services.

Establishing phase 2 of ESAP did not come easy. It took several months to screen all the NGOs that applied and to develop grant manuals. But the successes of the 2006 trial could not be ignored. Social accountability expert of the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Belay Asrat is excited that the second phase is starting: “We learned a lot in the pilot and now we can use the knowledge and experience in many more Woredas because we want both service providers and the communities in the country to understand each other better and strengthen their relationships.”

HUNDEE, the Oromo grassroots level initiative, is also one of the 13 first organizations to sign the social accountability grants. They will work in 5 Woredas where they have communities evaluate service providers, and service providers evaluate themselves. HUNDEE’s general manager Zegeye Asfaw believes dialogue can improve given services in Ethiopia: “The results of these evaluations will be brought together in interface meetings. This will evolve in to reform measures and very concrete action plans.”

A total of 52 out of 129 NGOs were shortlisted to receive grants from the $20 million Multi Donor Trust Fund grant facilitated by the World Bank. In 2013 and 2014 these 52 organizations will, with their partner organizations, work on grass root level create awareness in communities to better streamline the services offered to the Ethiopian people.

All organizations aim to improve services by facilitating dialogue between communities’ service providers. Pro Development Network (PDN) is a charity organization that will be active in four different regions that also signed a social accountability grant. General manager Yacob Ahmed explains the organizations practical approach: “We created tools like community score cards and public expenditure tracking records.” With these tools PDN can empower communities and local governments to improve the offered services.

The National Steering Committee will oversee the implementation and progress of all the projects in the coming two years. State Minister of Finance and Economic Development Dr Abraham Tekeste chairs this committee. All 52 NGOs receiving ESAP2 grants will have signed their social accountability grants in the coming 4 to 6 weeks.

13 First NGO’s To Sign Social Accountability Contract

- NSAC, Non State Actors Coalition
- AFD, Action For Development
- WCAT, Wabe Children Aid & Training
- ODA, Oromia Development Association
- ADA, Amahara Development Association
- AFSR, Action for Self Reliance Organization
- NEWA, Network of Ethiopian Women’s Association
- ILU, Women and Children Integrated Development Association
- PICDO, Progress Integrated Community Development Organization
- HUNDEE, Oromo Grassroots Development Initiative
- PDN, Pro Development Network
- PADET, Professional Alliance for Development
- SOS Sahel Ethiopia

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Find out HERE which other organizations will be signing a Social Accountability Contract