As in large Swiss municipalities in Switzerland, an elected council in Ethiopia controls the work of the executive bodies. Thanks to Helvetas training, these politically inexperienced local councilors now know their capacities and use their office to further the development of their community.
Elected to get things rolling
A defective well that could be repaired at little expense. Schools without blackboards and latrines. Eroding hillsides. Bad roads. The failure to develop a village or region is not always due to a lack of funds. It often occurs because the responsible authorities do not know how to plan and implement water supply facilities, healthcare services, a school system or road works. This is the case in Ethiopia.
In close collaboration with the provincial government of Amhara, Helvetas has developed a successful training model that targets local councilors, in other words elected members of the legislative. They are elected for five years, but most of them are hardly prepared for their duties. They do not know enough about their powers and duties to support or oversee the work of the executive bodies. They do not sufficiently address issues that concern their constituency. Nor do they have access to state agencies that could fund development projects.
In Helvetas’ training program, local councilors gain a better understanding of their powers and duties, and how to discharge their responsibilities more effectively, through training as well as through brochures and contact with effective officials. In parallel, executive local officials are trained to carry out mandates from the legislature and to address the needs of the population.
Because trained council members have taken ownership of their roles and responsibilities through these trainings, they are now able to set their priorities, constructing schools, fixing roads, and fulfilling their urgent needs by mobilizing community resources. They have also gained the courage to hold executive bodies accountable, as in the case of the Yilmana Densa Woreda Standing Committee (SC), who, after the training, started keeping track audit findings and enforced repayment of money lost through fraud and mismanagement.
The budget and finance standing committee head, Geremew Admasu (pictured above), reported, "After formally investigating the fraudulent allocation of 1.09 million ETB for veterinary drug purchase, we were able to enforce the repayment of 1.6 million ETB."
For this project, Helvetas works with the Amhara regional government and civil society organizations (CSOs) in the region to ensure the sustainability of these efforts and to reach other woredas in the region.
Zenebe Wondermagegn, municipal councillor and chairwoman of the Women's Association, Ethiopia