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Merger Said to be Better Than Closure

Participants of the CCRDA Leadership Forum meeting in Adama

Participants of the Leadership Forum meeting held in Adama, on August 3 and 4, 2017 concluded that merging with another NGO is a better option than closing an organization.

During the meeting, it was disclosed that over 600 CSOs were closed in the past few years and most have not considered merging with similar other CSOs when they decided to be closed. Ethiopian Catholic Church-Social Development Coordination Office (ECC-SDCO) and Research Inspired Policy and Practicing in Ethiopia (RIPPLE) shared their merger experience on the occasion.

Representing the two organizations, Bekele Moges, Director of the ECC-SDCO, had a presentation on the various important issues needed for merging. Speaking about the legal framework, he said the two organizations merged based on the Ethiopian NGO Proclamation No. 621/2009, Article 106, which says “Two or more Charities or Societies may merge into one under a new name or under the name of one of the former Charity or Society.”

Bekele Moges, Director of Ethiopian Catholic Church-Social Development Coordination Office

Concerning the requirement for merging, he underlined the need for active registration or renewal of registration, the decision of the two organizations to merge, submission of the merging request and updated documents to Charities License Registration and Renewal  Directorate, decision of both Board of Management on the new naming of the merged charity and society and the inclusion of merging and dissolvent article in the statute among others.

As procedures for merging, Bekele Moges, stressed the need for clearing all debts, liabilities and pending issues of both merging CSOs or agree the effects of dissolution, and if there is no claimant on the merging after a newspaper announcement by ChSA, the agency writes approval letter to concerned bodies and previous registration will be returned, and bank accounts will be closed.

Handing over of merged documentation and properties, re-employment of staff, changing of property ownership and property deeds and change address of website, email and postal services are what will be done during the implementation of the merger, Bekele explained. Only three staff members of RIPPLE were employed by ECC-SDCO after the merger, Bekele said.

According to Bekele, new knowledge, skills and experience of human resources, additional assets and properties, complementing of ideas, resources, projects and partners and good reputations are some of the opportunities of merging.

As challenges of merging he mentioned the difficulty of finding a partner to merge with that has similar shared values, vision and mission. He said he was the board member of RIPPLE and he was closely observing when the organization was struggling to survive it was much simpler to merge it with ECC-SDCO. He said the merging process took time and required additional resource, which is also a challenge for CSOs to merge. And he said it is also a problem if the two CSOs are not transparent enough regarding their liabilities. He further said that there could also be difficulty to fit some staff to the new organization by creating new vacant position. According to Bekele, the resource needed to cover liabilities of merged organization is also another challenge.

The participants concluded that the fact that the two organizations had had strong relationships before the merger helped them a lot to remove the hurdles to effect the merger. But they appreciated the two organizations’ for sharing their experience. They also underlined that it is better for CSOs on the verge of closure to merge than to close so that they could continue making contributions for the development of the country.


Domestic Resource Allocation Said to Be Crucial to Achieve FP 2020 Goals

Participants of the high level meeting

Participants of a high level meeting on stock taking and acceleration towards FP 2020 goals underlined the need for domestic resource allocation for family planning (FP) to achieve FP 2020 goals. The meeting was held on June 29, 2017 in Addis Ababa.

In his key note speech, CCRDA Executive Director, Dr. Meshesha Shewarega, said the government needs to give priority to domestic financing of FP services. The Executive Director said, “Only two countries are committed to provide 67% of the funds needed for the realization of FP 2020 goals. And only three countries out of the 69 that are working to achieve FP 2020 goals provided 79% of the resource needed to realize FP 2020 goals. According to the CCRDA Executive Director, the fact that 68 countries are competing with Ethiopia for the meager resources, shows the fierce competition to get foreign resources. He said the budget reduction trend from four major donor countries is a clarion call to focus and aggressively engage in domestic resource mobilization.

CCRDA Executive Director Dr. Meshesha Shewarega while making his speech

Jyoti Tewari, DFID, Health, Population and Nutrition Partners Co-Chair also underscored the importance of domestic financing of FP. Currently partners spend around 50 million US dollar per year on family planning, but to meet all the unmet need, at least 80 million US dollar is needed per year, he said. Mr Tewari further said, “A few partners and global initiatives, including GFF, She Decides and the UK, are planning additional investment in family planning, and some on-going funding appears uncertain.”

Another participant recalled that after the London Summit, in July 2012, the late Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, and Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, had issued a publication in which they wrote that if Africa had to develop, there should be family planning service. They also underlined the need to domestically finance FP, the participant said. Africa should have allocated more budget since then, but it is only now, when foreign donors reduced their financial support that the importance of domestic resource mobilization is being raised, he noted. Women who don’t want to give birth have to get the service, he underlined.

The Way Forward

At the conclusion of the high level meeting on FP 2020 Goals, CCRDA Executive Director, Dr Meshesha Shewarega, said there are three important areas and six enablers to be mentioned as way forward.

Listing the three important areas Dr Meshesha said, first, based on the discussion and presentations at the meeting, it was understood that FP coverage in some regions, particularly in Afar and Somali are very low. As a way forward, Dr Meshesha said FP service has to be expanded in the regions where the FP service coverage is low. And there is a need for FP scale up initiative giving special attention to the youth.

The second most important point raised by various participants was the need for sustainable financing of FP. Dr Meshesha summarized the discussion points and underscored the need for domestic resource mobilization in addition to the foreign fund received from donors.

The third most important issue of concern is FP commodity security. Dr Meshesha put as a way forward the need to tackle the problem of supply chain of FP commodities.

As enablers, based on the discussion and presentations of the meeting, Dr Meshesha said awareness creation is very important both at the Federal and regional level for the realization of FP 2020. And he underlined the need for CSOs to work hand in hand with the government.

He further said there should be joint involvement of MPs, CORHA, CCRDA so that all closely follow up of FP 2020.  He mentioned as advantages the presence of FP 2020 Goals as a reference point and also the presence of FP focal person at Federal Ministry of Health.

The CCRDA Executive Director further noted that there should be regular evaluation of FP 2020, annual review mechanism of FP 2020 both at federal and regional levels.

CSOs Contribution to Family Planning in Ethiopia

Also during the high level meeting, Executive Director of Consortium of Reproductive Health Associations (CORHA), Abebe Kebede said CSOs contribution for FP and RH is more than half a century old.

He recalled that FP program was initiated in Ethiopia by Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia (FGAE) in 1966. FP service integrated as part of Maternal and Child Health in public health system only in 1980; and since then the conducive policy environment encouraged establishment of CSOs working on FP/RH. Following this population policy, and health policy were issued in 1993, Abebe said. He further said that the establishment of consortiums on Family Planning/Reproductive Health (FP/RH), such as CORHA, were aimed at boosting CSOs contribution to FP by strengthening their capacity.

The Executive Director said CSOs made contributions to FP in technical (in the development of national policies, strategies and guidelines), programmatic (facility improvement support and capacity building for public health facilities), supplies and infrastructural (FP and infection prevention commodities), demand creation (increasing awareness of the public about FP) and service delivery (targeted interventions to reach under-served population groups) areas.


Prime Minster Hailemariam Expresses His Government’s Willingness to Revisit CSO Law

Representatives of CSOs discussing with the Prime Minister

Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegne expressed government’s willingness to revisit CSO law.

The Prime Minster met with Representatives of CSOs and held discussions with them on April 13, 2017 at his office. During the discussion, the CSO representatives presented a fourteen pages proposal for the amendment of Ethiopian Charities and Societies Law number 621/2009 and improve its implementation.

Prime Minster Hailemariam stressed on the occasion that the government strongly believes that citizens should actively participate in the democratization process through CSOs. He further noted that the government will further continue discussing with CSOs through its Center for Democracy.

The proposal by CSOs underlined the need to establish and strengthen CSOs that would contribute for increasing public participation in the effort to build a democratic system in the country. It also mentions that as stated in the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) the government believes in CSOs involvement in development activities and in the role they play in monitoring and evaluation of development. The representatives said there had not been CSO law and appreciated the government for introducing the charities and societies law in 2009. They said it is now high time to see the impact the law made in the past eight years. They noted that several researches were conducted on the law which indicated the loopholes in it. And various stakeholders complained that the law and the regulations and directives issued following it, have posed serious challenges on CSOs by limiting their programmatic and operative space. Moreover, coupled with other non-legal factors, they resulted in the weakening and shrinking of the CSO sector.

The representatives of CSOs that met with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn

The fact that CSOs, particularly those categorized by the law as Ethiopian Charities and Mass-based Societies, are forbidden not to mobilize more than 10% of their budget from foreign sources has seriously affected citizens right to be organized under them, the representatives underlined.

The 14 pages proposal also raised issues relevant to implementation of the law.

The CSO representatives further asked Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn to meet with them twice a year and discuss issues that concern CSOs, and he agreed.


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