The Authority for Civil Society Organizations (CSO) is preparing to form a lobbying working group comprised of the Ministries of Finance and Justice in order to enhance Ethiopia’s diminishing financial inflow.
The authority decided to form the team in response to a decrease in funding inflows into CSOs operating in Ethiopia. Most CSOs in the country are struggling to stay active as donors withhold funding.
The move comes after donors who had been sponsoring CSO programs in the country began tightening and halting grants as a result of the violence in northern Ethiopia and, more recently, the Russian Ukraine war.
“We understand from our discussions with civil society organizations that some of the promised funds have not been disbursed; the donor community is now interested in Ukraine; they are canceling their support for Ethiopia and diverting their attention there,” Fasikaw Molla, deputy director general of the authority, told The Reporter.
The “media campaign” that began in connection with the war in northern Ethiopia has produced an unfavorable image of the country, resulting in donors’ reservations since the commencement of the war in November 2020, according to Fasikaw.
As the effects of COVID-19 weigh heavily on developed economies, most donors’ policies have turned to focus on fixing their country’s own problems, resulting in a reduction in aid support to poor countries like Ethiopia.
The inflow of donor finances, aid, and grants into Ethiopia has decreased significantly over the last two years, according to sources. As a result, most CSOs in Ethiopia lack the financial resources to carry out projects, causing them to cease operations, postpone new projects, and some reaching point of cancelling licensees.
The administration has registered over 4200 CSOs after Ethiopia modified the Civil Society Proclamation in 2019, creating a better working environment. Over 2000 new CSOs were formed as a result of the relaxed proclamation.
However, in the last two years, the number of newly registered CSOs has decreased. While 697 new CSOs were registered in 2019/20, the figure fell to 587 in 2021/22, dropping by 110.
The drop, according to officials at the authority, is due to the war in northern Ethiopia. Nonetheless, current CSOs reach millions of individuals through their projects.
An evaluation of 394 programs undertaken by 354 CSOs revealed that 21.4 million people benefited from these efforts, of which 13.5 million are direct beneficiaries.
The authority recognized a shortage of money as a major concern for CSOs and the sector in general in their fiscal year 2022/23 strategy, followed by inflation and budget mismanagement.
The working committee, led by government officials, is expected to recommend a solution to this problem. The authority believes that detailing the difficulties that CSOs face in a series of discussions with donors sponsored by the work group will draw attention to CSOs in the country.
They seek to raise funding both bilaterally and multilaterally. It might include UN agencies, USAID, the Department for International Development (DFID), and Irish Aid, according to Fasikaw.
The authorities, stakeholder ministry offices, and the CSO council have all agreed to form the task group.
“If the country’s circumstances allow it, I believe we will establish it in early October,” he said.
Other sources of funding are also being established by the authority to support CSO projects. The authority established a Civil Society Fund to provide financial assistance to CSOs, and it has already awarded three CSOs its first 4.5 million birr grant.
The grant will be used by the CSOs to conduct psychosocial assistance projects in war-affected areas of northern Ethiopia.
Three CSOs were chosen from a field of 95, including Bethsaida Restoration Development Association, Development via Adult and Non-Formal Education (DANFE), and Dire Integrated Community Development Organization.
The Civil Society Fund secured funding from the sale of closed CSO properties. A grant of 10 million birr is intended to be awarded in 2022/23.