In March 2019, the Government of Ethiopia enacted the Civil Society Organization (CSO) Proclamation. The CSO Proclamation has fundamentally changed the regulations for the establishment, type, and operation of CSOs in Ethiopia, lifting the previously existing heavy restrictions on activities promoting human rights and democracy. This allowed hundreds of new CSOs to register since the new legislation came into effect.
To help promote the continued growth of a vital civil society community, the USAID Feteh (Justice) Activity is supporting Ethiopian authorities and organizations to fully realize the changes introduced by the new CSO Proclamation. To familiarize the government officials with the Proclamation, and render them capable of providing requisite services to a rapidly growing body of CSOs, Feteh trained 77 members of the CSO Agency and 22 staff from other relevant government agencies in February 2020.
Feteh has also launched a grants program to establish formal and lasting ties between the civil society and the Ethiopian government. Two grants have been awarded to date to help Ethiopian CSOs learn about the changes brought about with the new CSO Proclamation, and to further engage civil society through town-hall dialogue sessions and the broadcast of regular mass media programs. In addition, in March, Feteh organized a one-day orientation workshop with 41 local CSOs working in governance, rule of law, gender, and related areas to provide guidance on USAID’s grant award process and to get their ideas for new grants.