Non-Governmental Organizations in Ethiopia

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This study examines the relations between Southern and Northern Non-Governmental Development Organizations based on patterns that the author observed in Ethiopia. Southern, or as alternatively called in this study, Local NGOs (LNGOs) and Northern NGOs (NNGOs), mainly use the term ‘partnership’ to describe their mutual relation and it has become a fashionable term among the larger development community. The evidence at hand suggests that ‘partnership’ has been perceived by most, if not all, as a superior type of relationship, but its practice is widely questioned by the local NGOs. The relationship is structured in such a way that the Northern NGO is the one financing the LNGO and transfers trust, which the trustee (the LNGO) is expected to be deserving of it. However, the relationship is not only about finance. Ideas, approaches and better forms of practice are also part of the relationship. Building mutual trust between the two groups would require genuine commitment on both sides.

This study demonstrates the existence of different types of relationships between Northern and local NGOs in Ethiopia. From the perspective of LNGOs, these relationships range from very poor (donor-recipient type) to that of fairly satisfactory (close to partnership) along a continuum. Generally speaking, solidarity-based relationships resemble most closely the model of genuine partnerships with church-based relationships coming in as a good second variety. Paternalism or domination was more frequently suffered by small NGOs working with fluctuating partners. This work will interest those working in the field of international development.


“Throughout life, relationships matter. And four decades of investment in aid have proven beyond a doubt that the quality of relationships between organisations is a vital factor in making international development effective and worthy of public and private support. This study of the interaction between local and foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is an important contribution to understanding what quality is all about under a particular set of difficult conditions ...” – (from the Preface) Professor Alan Fowler, University of KwaZulu Natal

“Establishing a good understanding of the agents of development and the relationship with one another is fundamental in establishing effective relationships. This book examines the partnership between the Southern Non-Governmental Organizations (SNGOs) and Northern Non-Governmental Organizations (NNGOs) from the perspective of the former ... This book conveys a noble message to all of us involved in development in one way or another. I am fully convinced that the book enhances our understanding of how well NGOs in the north and the south work together to alleviate poverty in the south and what each party can do to be partners in development.” – Professor Darwit Eshetu, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Table of Contents

Preface by Alan Fowler
1. Introduction
2. The Development Discourse, Civil Society, and NGOs
3. Country Profile: Institutional, Political, Social, and Economic Background of the Study Area
4. The Emergence of Ethiopian NGOs and Their Political Environment
5. Relations Between Ethiopian and Northern NGOs
6. Sustainability
7. Summary and Conclusions

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