About Mwananchi in Ethiopia
Mwananchi's work in Ethiopia is currently being managed and implemented by the Guraghe Development Association (GDA). The Mission of the Guraghe Development Association (GDA) is to unite all those born into Guraghe Society, in both Ethiopia and abroad, in support of social, cultural and economic development. The GDA works to disseminate information about the development efforts of society, as well as those of the government and other institutions within the Guraghe Zone. Other goals includes mobilising resoures by creating and organising solidarity networks and providing capacity support, as well as reviving the spirit of self reliance that has been weakened over time, to restore unity among all members of the society as the key instrument of the renaissance of the Guraghe.
Consultations for the Mwananchi programme in Ethiopia highlight efforts by the government to end poverty through promoting multiparty democracy and establishing institutional structures for political and economic development. The government was also involved in rethinking its role and alignment to pluralism, autonomy and self-determination. Activities to support these policies has included enacting legislation that enhanced good governance.
The government’s strategic policies and project plans are in the five-year Plan for Accelerated and Sustainable Development to End Poverty (PASDEP) which has in-built accountability and transparency mechanisms. Political will is also shown through the following strategic pillars:
- Building all-inclusive implementations capacity
- Accelerated growth
- Creating a balance between economic development and population growth
- Enabling the potential of women
- Strengthening human resource development
- Managing risk and volatility and
- Creating employment
A Mwananchi baseline study indicated that most governance projects and programmes supported the concept of good governance. Furthermore, a stock taking conducted by means of secondary sources including literature reviews of books, Internet findings of experts and meetings with donor agencies, government departments and civil society organisations (CSOs) generated a database on governance issues that will inform the country plan for Ethiopia.
What came out of the consultations were issues of ‘voice’ and ‘awareness’ with more CSOs promoting capacity building and empowerment. According to recent data from the Ministry of Justice, there were 120 CSO and non-governmental organisations registered at the federal level who promoted good governance, democracy, human rights and peace building. Their thematic areas included citizen participation; rights for children, women, people living with HIV and AIDS and persons with disabilities; corruption; voter education; pastoralist issues; and access to justice.
Efforts were being made to develop pro-poor policies, laws, structures and programmes by engaging government at federal and regional levels. However, interventions that liaise with parliament’s interface with citizens tended to be insufficient as most initiatives with elected representatives were preoccupied with capacity building and transparency of parliament’s committee processes.
Interventions that promoted citizen participation in policy and decision making processes were also few. In general, there tended to be a deficiency in interventions that promoted and created spaces for exchange between the state and citizen.
While free and independent media remained a cornerstone of democracy, participation of the media in governance was still at a nascent stage. Despite support through legislation promoting freedom of expression and participation, the media as governance stakeholder was still in infancy. This was confirmed by research findings that demonstrated that the private, as well as the government press, were not functioning within recognised journalistic standards with few media houses having developed and adopted codes of conduct and ethics.