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The Development Interface Addis Ababa, Ethiopia By Caitlin Hicks

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The Development Interface

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

By Caitlin Hicks

Why Ethiopia?• Ethiopia became an icon of poverty and

underdevelopment, with the financial input of NGOs counting for ¼ of the national income

(Gill, 2010)

Akaki, Addis Ababa



ACAThe Partnership

How significant are issues of communication for the

implementation of this programme, and what are

their repercussions?

German NGO and Volunteers Ethiopian NGO

College Staff Students/beneficiaries

The Development Interface:

What factors caused the breakdown of the partnership?

• Professional and suspicious issues regarding the Project Manager

• Resources and culture (Ethiopian context)• Tense environment for foreign NGOs• Food shortage• Poor communication channels and reluctance to

cooperate.“I think Ethiocare needs to understand that government organisations in Ethiopia are not the same as Europe”

Teachers & Other Staff• “ACSC is not a good place to be. Nobody is telling us anything.

There were problems from both sides. The communication system simply was not there. It was a frustrating time” (Mahlet, ex-social worker).

• “There is a communication gap between the two [partners] - they must seek a solution for that. Otherwise we’re left peripheral.” (Kirubel, ex-teacher)

• “There have been recent signs that awareness of problems that occur at college have spread. It is bad for the general atmosphere” (ACA Management)

• “They keep you in the dark, and after 30 years of experience I simply don’t want to remain in the dark. The atmosphere is [one of] discomfort and fear of the unknown and the only way out is to look out and break away.” (Kirubel, ex-teacher)

The Students

• Ethiopia is home to around 5 million orphans, 30% of which are due to HIV/AIDS (UNICEF, 2003)

• “They know of their background, but they don’t want to be reminded of it. They feel like it is their fault they are being helped by another person. They feel guilty, but can’t do anything about it” (Seble – Teacher)

• One student explained how she suffers the “burden of guilt” and that independency is her “daily dream”

“Stupid Words”• “Other staff, they were using stupid words. I don’t expect this

treatment from any human beings. I know I am poor, but I believe I will be better. I don’t want to hear I am worthless.”

• “I understand they have to say disadvantaged backgrounds. But I am a student, not a street girl”

• “In order to get support, (by introducing us), they have been using some intolerable words.

• “I have learned patience. In order to continue my education, I have to tolerate others while they are insulting me.”

• “They know us as stray girls without families. That’s shameful for me” • “I am proud myself and by my college. It helps me to get my goals. But

sometimes this organization talks about us like we are street girls and says what we are not. This make our society to have a bad impression of us and they say a taboo word us that makes us ashamed.”

NGO leaders, believing so passionately in their cause sometimes find it hard to learn from, or co-operate with others who have different ideas about how to reach the same goals” - (Guest, 2001)

This certainly characterizes the development interface, but I also argue that difficulties to co-operate can stifle what the NGO leaders were initially passionate about, and why they were created in the first place – helping

their beneficiaries.