Capacity Building of Councils in Ethiopia

The project aims at building the capacities of councils at regional, district and local level. Empowering the councils to take up their constitutional roles and responsibilities contributes significantly to good governance, democracy and federalism.
The first phase of the project included both the executive government (participatory planning), and the councils (roles and responsibilities, oversight tools, etc.) at Woreda (district) level. However, during various backstopping missions of Governance and Peace advisors, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation came to the conclusion that the new national development plan introduced in 2010 closed the space for participatory planning. Since the councils’ component was successful, the regional council of Amhara requested HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation to concentrate its efforts on institutionalising capacity building of zonal, district and local councils.

A small team comprised of two Governance and Peace advisors and two Ethiopian counterparts were assigned to plan the second phase. By using participatory planning approaches (i.e. consulting and collaborating closely with all relevant stakeholders), the team proposed the following project outcomes:

1) Develop the capacities of the councils in the required competencies (e.g. clarify roles and responsibilities, develop  tools for oversight and accountability, etc.);
2) Improve required systems, structures and processes; and
3) Ensure accountability and inclusion of people’s voices.

Accountability mechanisms such as Public Hearings or Public Audits will be incorporated systematically, including representatives from the executive government as well. Special attention will be given to facilitate interfaces between councils and civil society, in order to ensure that Civil Society Organisations can feed their concerns into the political process. In the field of gender, the project promotes female councillors through specific trainings as well as by strengthening the women’s councillor forum. By developing a regional capacity building strategy, and supporting the regional council in the implementation, sustainability of the project approaches is ensured. The methodology used to plan the project was highly appreciated by the partner institutions. For many it was the first time they were involved in the planning phase of a project.