Pausing and Reflecting Pays Dividends for Nascent Ethiopian CSOs
Ethiopian civil society organizations (CSOs) are new to conducting advocacy and peacebuilding work following a long period of repression by the government. Despite reforms that initially opened political space, continuous conflict and instability have further complicated the operating environment for these nascent CSOs. As such, a mindset of collaboration, learning, and adaptation (CLA) has been crucial in effectively supporting these organizations to achieve advocacy and peacebuilding goals. Recognizing this, the International Republican Institute (IRI), as part of a USAID-funded Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS) activity, prioritized collaboration and learning between CSOs. This has fostered a collaborative culture whereby CSOs learn from and collaborate with one another through experience sharing opportunities such as CEPPS/IRI-hosted CSO Strategy sessions as well as reflection sessions with key stakeholders from the CSOs’ peacebuilding initiatives. Furthermore, CEPPS/IRI and its CSO partners intentionally paused the organizations’ planned advocacy initiatives part way through completion, recognizing that the CSOs’ original plans were not appropriately designed to achieve feasible goals. Following these CLA efforts, CEPPS/IRI’s CSO partners ultimately succeeded in implementing meaningful advocacy and peacebuilding initiatives, in some cases for the first time. This was possible due to the iterative, participatory design of local CSOs’ burgeoning advocacy and peacebuilding work, combined with substantial opportunities to discuss what is working and what is not with fellow CSOs and key stakeholders engaged in these initiatives.
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