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EDTF unveils USD 4 mln development fund
EDTF’s secretariat briefing the media

EDTF unveils USD 4 mln development fund

Calls for project proposals

Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund (EDTF) announced that it has collected more than four million dollars in less than a year’s time.

EDTF was established a year ago following Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s (PhD) call to Ethiopians living in overseas requesting them to donate one dollar a day for various community development projects in Ethiopia. EDTF is registered as a non profit and non partisan organization in the US and Ethiopia. The fund is managed by a secretariat and a board of directors.  

In a press conference held on Thursday at Elily Hotel in Addis Ababa, EDTF disclosed that it managed to raise more than four million dollars from 24,000 Ethiopians living in 75 countries. The fund will be used to finance local NGOs engaged in social and economic development projects. EDTF called for project proposals that aimed at assisting the poor in the fields of water, education and health services.

Fikere Zewdie, executive director, said that EDTF secured its license as a local NGO on July1, 2019. According to Fikere, local NGOs can submit their project proposals until September 2019. Fikere said the projects should focus on the provision of safe drinking water, education and health services. Technologies that deliver better farming mechanisms or other technologies that solve particular communities’ challenges are eligible. Innovative ideas on job creation are also encouraged to come forward. Members of the civil society, governmental organizations and the private sector working in those areas can also submit their proposals. The fund will not be engaged in relief projects nor does it finance profit making firms. The fund will also be used to rehabilitate internally displaced people.    

According to Fikere, the project selection criteria has been approved by the board of EDTF. “The project proposals would be evaluated by professionals and the selected proposals would be presented for the board for approval,” he said. “It is for the first time when a fund established by Ethiopians made a call for project proposal. In the past it was only the EU, USAID, DFID or UNDP which announce calls for project proposals. This is historical,” he added.       

Zafu Eyessuswork Zafu, board chairman, said that he has accepted his appointment to ensure that the fund is properly managed and dispersed to the benefit of needy Ethiopians fairly and evenly. Zafu acknowledged UNDP which is covering salary and all other administrative costs of ETDF. “UNDP is covering staff salary, office rent and other administrative costs so that the fund raised by Ethiopian diaspora will only be used to finance community development projects,” he said.     

Robsan Itana, member of the advisory council, said that some people try to relate ETDF with politics and the government. “We Ethiopians do not need politics or politicians to help our destitute people. The fund that Ethiopian diaspora contribute will be used to educate children who are not going to school. It will be used to give medication to our poor mothers. We do not need politics to do that,” Etena said.

Itana who came from the US said that there are many Ethiopian professionals who are voluntarily working hard to support ETDF. “In less than a year time ETDF established as an NGO, raised more than four million dollars and made a call for project proposals. This is a big achievement made in a short period time. This is the first time in history when Ethiopians come together to fund development projects at home. How long should we wait for foreign assistance. I can guarantee you that EDTF will succeed.”

Abdulwehab Adem (PhD), board member of EDTF, said that this is an opportunity created by Ethiopians to eradicate poverty. “Politics should not be a criteria to eradicate poverty. Diversified political views should not be an obstacle to fight poverty. Other countries’ citizens stand as one when it comes to fighting poverty regardless of their political views,” Abdulwehab said. Abdulwehab who lives in Abu Dhabi, called up on all Ethiopians to support EDTF regardless of their ethnic, political or religious background.          

EDTF has established 35 chambers in countries where Ethiopians reside. The chambers are run by volunteer Ethiopians. More than four million dollars has been raised through online payment mode.  According to Hana Atnafu, communication specialist of EDTF, the fund will introduce other payment options which will be convenient for Ethiopian communities.