Michael Tsegaye

The Civil Society Support Programme 2 (CSSP2) began in 2018, following its first phase, CSSP1, which ran highly successfully from 2011-2017.

CSSP2 is a capacity development program designed to support Ethiopia’s civil society capacity to “contribute to inclusive and accountable governance; and an improved environment for the promotion and protection of the human rights of all Ethiopians”. To achieve this grand objective, the programme identified three themes (gender transformation, young people, and citizen-state engagement) and has taken human rights-based approach as its key strategic approach. In addition to channelling fund to local CSOs, the programme has been providing technical and capacity development supports through various means. In addition, the programme has been working with relevant government stakeholders to build their capacity and create space and platforms for effective civic engagement and learnings. The programme has been under implementation since August 2018. 

Ahead of the 6th national elections in June 2021, Ethiopia is experiencing unprecedented changes in its political economy. COVID-19 remains public health threat in Ethiopia. The number of cases and deaths is on the rise. The Ministry of Health of Ethiopia launched the COVID-19 vaccine introduction on 13 March 2021.  The Ministry of Health has still echoed that everyone must remain vigilant and strictly observe all public health measures – wearing masks, maintaining physical distance from others, keeping our hands clean and ventilating closed spaces – to prevent the spread of the disease.

These changes in the programme’s operating context have significantly affected the performance of the programme. For instance, projects were suspended in Tigray due to the conflict; conflict has also adversely affected citizen-state engagement, timely implementation, and completion of projects as per plan and quality of implementation and support to civil society organisations. CSSP2 has adopted several response mechanisms to mitigate the impacts of these challenges.

Among others its Covid-19 response grant aims to address the primary and secondary effects of the pandemics; remote supportive monitoring has been conducted to avail collaboration to CSOs operating in conflict areas; and upon the relative improvement of security in most parts of Tigray, the suspension on activities in Tigray was lifted on 26 March 2021. Despite these challenges the following key achievements were garnered per workstream. 

The grant management workstream has facilitated the remaining fund disbursements to seven CSO partners, processed contract amendments to three CSO partners, reviewed 11 grantees’ reports, conducted four compliance monitoring visits, and facilitated grant closure of five CSO partners. Capacity development (CD) training coalition facilitation and management training for 19 CSO partners; and media for advocacy and influence training for 76 (18 female) CSO partners’ staff. CSSP2 has also conducted Re-OCA workshops to assess the capacity changes of 67 strategic CSO partners.  In addition, CSSP2 has delivered coalition facilitation and management training for 14 Regional Networks and Coalitions which coalition which are not the current partners of CSSP2.

The engagement component of the programme has continued to invest in building better and more effective relationships that foster collaboration between civil society actors, citizens, and the government through generation and use of evidence and strengthened relationships with ACSO by supporting the familiarization and dissemination of the new CSO proclamation No. 1113/2019 through media.

Under its cross-cutting work stream, CSSP2 has been strongly working in mainstreaming gender and inclusion in CSSP2’s internal processes, externally, with partners’ programmes and approaches and supporting gender transformative projects. CSSP2 has continued to work on safeguarding issues and capabilities. During the reporting period, a five-day safeguarding Training of Trainers (ToT) was conducted for total 25 participants. The safeguarding capacity development service providers have also conducted training and mentoring to 41 CSSP2 partners (36 lead CSOs and 15 CIP). During the mentoring support, they provided technical support to improve the CSO partners’ safeguarding system and processes.

The MEL workstream has prepared the 2021 annual work plan (narrative and excel) and 2020 annual reports (narrative and KPI); and has provided technical support to hub teams and CSO partners in the collection and sharing of evidence from CSSP2 funded projects. CSSP2 has also collected satisfaction survey from its CSO partners relating to its grant making and CD support. More than 81.5% of CSO partners (strategic grantees) are either ‘very satisfied’ or 'satisfied' with the CSSP2 CD support. The result also showed that 88% of CSSP2 supported CSO partners are very satisfied (49%) or satisfied (39%) with the strategic and COVID-19 response grants making process.

Despite the difficult operating context in the preceding year and quarter, CSSP2 CSO partners have been implementing their projects and have had a cumulative effect on improving policies and practices related to CSSP2 thematic areas. Among others, a prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration legislation is being adopted in Amhara region following the advocacy work of CSSP2 partner (AHRRA) in collaboration with Wollo University. Benishangul Gumuz Regional Council has also adopted Khat bill following the continuous advocacy efforts of BGDAN. CSO partners have improved practices on CSSP2 thematic areas including inclusive basic services deliveries in Amhara region, need-based budgeting in DireDawa city Administration, participatory planning approaches at the federal level (MOWCYA), prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration processes in Oromia (Jimma and Miza) and Amhara (Dessie) regions, meaningful participation of local community structures (Iddirs and self-help groups (SHG) in the fight against GBV in Afar and Amhara regions, improved youth volunteerism in Benishangul Gumuz regional state, established institutional setups (CSO council and Government Partner’s Council for CSO) to lead the self-regulation of the CSO sector, and established national level GBV and COVID working groups. 

The Civil Society Support Programme 2 (CSSP2) is funded by the people of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden and Norway. The programme is managed by the British Council, in consortium with Pact UK and Social Development Direct.

'CSSP didn’t just create a link between us and the government, it also created links between the CSOs themselves.'

CSO representative, 2018

Child skipping

Michael Tsegaye

About the Civil Society Support Programme 1 (CSSP1)

CSSP1 built the capacity of community organisations to deliver basic services to hard-to-reach communities. It worked with over 600 partners, reaching three million people. The programme focused on previously neglected issues such as prison reform, women’s rights and mental health issues. Seventy per cent of activities have focused on gender equality and violence against women, including income generation and supporting girls to stay in school. 

CSSP1 grants encouraged innovation and creativity in civil society organisations (CSOs) to develop capacity, and foster collaboration among stakeholders, including government. They offered funding opportunities at local, regional and national levels.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia, HE Demeke Mekonnen, said ‘The achievement of the first phase of this Civil Society Support Programme is a proven example of the successful management of the British Council as a lead managing agent. Congratulations!’. 

 'Giving voice to the voiceless, CSSP has encouraged community members to say what is in their heads. This will, I believe, take Ethiopia to enormous heights.'

CSO representative, 2018