The Head of Secretariat
Hello readers! It has been a busy period here in ECSF. Taking upon the various causes and concerns in the interest of the CSO sector, in particular carrying out the responsibility to lead advocacy and dialogue for improvements in creating enabling environment for CSOs in the country, we have so far been engaged in a daunting task demanding tact and diplomacy. Overall, we are managing and are in good track to meet our mission – contributing to meet the interests and advance causes of the citizens and the nation. It is true that since the fall of the Derg regime, thousands of CSOs have significantly contributed in addressing the country's multiple development priorities in line with the Constitution and other existing national frameworks, policies and strategies. But it cannot be denied that, as anywhere else in the world, few CSOs in our country as well might operate out of their mandate.
We recognize that it is crucial like other sectors regulations and control mechanisms for civil society are vital. As there had not been any coherent legal framework guiding the operation of CSOs in Ethiopia until the enactment of the Charities and Societies Proclamation (CSP) in 2009, it was a fact that we, CSOs, were also lobbying the government to provide us enabling law throughout the 1990s. The CSP was supposed to ensuring the realization of citizens' right to association and facilitating the role of charities and societies in the overall development of the country, however, it came with incorporating a number of ‘restrictive,’ regulations and procedures that surely decreased the space for civil society to work effectively. Yet, we don’t deny that there were benefits that are resulted from the enactment of the CSP and follow-up directives and regulations. We recognize there are also good practices observed in the implementation of Charities and Societies assets clearing, liquidation and transfer to other similar CSOs. It can also be taken as an important instrument in improving accountability and transparency standards of CSOs. We recognize that the realization of different principles ensuring and promoting accountability and transparency also depends on the environment in which we, CSOs, work. We know we have a just cause - striving for social, economic and environmental justice as well as for transparency and accountability, and for inclusive development - representing the interests and advance causes of the people and the nation. However, since its enactment, the law has been an instrument to diminish the space and capacity of CSOs. We have voiced our concerns for years. Recently, ECSF has taken the initiative to draft CSO proclamation challenges incorporated inputs from about 54 Consortia and 1,500 individual Charities and Societies. The final 47-page amendment document (see summary on page 11) has been submitted to relevant government authorities. Thus, I believe, it is crucial that government and relevant offices heed to our calls and demands and provide an enabling environment where the sector can operate freely and more effectively, especially in the context of the new era that creates a promising political sphere that urges for a fresh approach to leadership to pursue policies that promote greater democratic participation and inclusive development. Cognizant of the urgency as well as the opening of a new democratic space, I hope it shouldn’t take too long for the government to take the necessary measure and suffice our demand - the demand of the citizens and the nation. With this final note, I would humbly invite you to turn each page and spend some of your moments with us. Thank you! I wish you an enjoyable time with our stories and articles!
Bilen Asrat Ejigu
Executive Director (ECSF)