The Management Agency of ESAP2 holds a learning benchmark for all SAIPs, attended by over 600 people

The Management Agency (MA) of ESAP2 organized a two day learning benchmark workshops for all SAIPs in Adama, Shashemene, Hawasa, Dire Dawa, Bahirdar, and Mekele, from August 11-23, 2014.

The learning benchmark created a platform for project staff and SAC members working in different basic service sectors to share experiences based on comparisons of their performances so far. In this way they learn from each other, and can improve their project.

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In Adama, at the opening of the first of ten workshops, MA’s Team Leader Rolf Hunink made a welcoming speech and encouraged participants to make the most out of the learning benchmark. He said, “The reason we are gathered here today is to share experiences and learn from each other. The other reason is to also discuss the future and sustainability of Social Accountability in Ethiopia.”

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All workshops were officially opened by a representative of the regional Bureau of Finance and Economic Development (BoFED). In his opening remarks in Adama, Deputy Head of Harari BoFED, Ibrahim Ahmed, mentioned the importance of SA in engaging citizens for development and further said that an agreement has been reached between regional governments to link SA and FTA to work in collaboration. Stating that the workshop was a suitable platform for SAIPs and other stakeholders to exchange experiences, Ato Ibrahim told stakeholders, “this is an event where you can also evaluate your current performance and adjust your plans accordingly”

The Learning Benchmark has two main sections: the social accountability process which focuses on utilization of SA tools, and integration of gender with the updated Gender Responsive Budgeting Tool, organizing and facilitating interface meetings, monitoring the Joint Action Plan Implementation for service improvements, and sustainability; while the general project management section focuses on issues such as monitoring concrete results and dealing with issues related to grants and finance.

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During the two day workshop, participants were introduced to new notions of power and how to support relationship building so that citizens can become influential through Social Accountability. Tarik Endale, a Project Coordinator at Action Professional Association for the People (APAP), says “the learning benchmark is a great opportunity to draw lessons from the activities of other SAIPs. Two days after this learning benchmark, we have organized an event at our own office for Wereda coordinators that work with our partners to share the knowledge and training we have acquired from this event.”

Kefyalew Muleta is a Monitoring and Evaluation officer at the Research Center for Development and Education. He makes particular mention of the Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) tool training which shed light on how SAIPs can be gender sensitive in budgeting. He said, “we have learned about addressing Gender Responsive budgeting in SA works. We used to perform gender related activities without any proper guideline so today’s training has definitely changed our perspective on how to address gender related issues in our budgets”.

With so many SA changes in motion and several success stories to share, the SAIPs were also provided a much needed and loved training on how to document their activities and achievements, engage with media and increase their visibility.

With these learning benchmark workshops, the MA has brought together over 600 people including citizens, wereda coordinators, service providers, representatives from regional bureaus of Finance and Economic Development, Charities and Societies Agency, civil society organizations, and development partners.

The Management Agency has previously organized a similar learning benchmark in February, 2014.