Urban Development Forum

  • Background
  • Evolution of CCRDA Forums
  • National Urban Development Forum of NGOs (UDF)
  • UDF Objective


Ethiopia is one of the least urbanized countries in Africa with around 20% of its habitants living in urban areas. However, it is one of the places where fast urbanization is taking place. Addis Ababa is a primate city housing approximately 26 percent of the total urban population in Ethiopia. Only ten cities in the country have population sizes of more than 100,000 inhabitants.

Addis Ababa and Diredawa are the two chartered cities with federal status having an independent governing council, State Bureaucracy and municipal service Agencies and accountable to the Prime Minster. All others are town administrations which are accountable to their respective Regional Governments.

The following are the major urban problems identified by a study commissioned by CCRDA:

  • weak and poorly developed economic base;
  • deepening poverty and unemployment;
  • acute housing shortage;
  • rapid proliferation of squatter settlements;
  • poorly developed infrastructure;
  • poor municipal solid and liquid waste management;
  • inefficient provision of safety and emergency services;
  • Lack of efficiency, transparency and accountability in urban governance.

Among the major Challenges for urban development actors, which were identified by the same study, were:

  • Inner city slums are dominated by kebele housing; the Kebele houses are those housing units with monthly rent of less 100 Birr and nationalized during the last socialist oriented regime and currently administered by the Kebles (the lower government tier). They constitute the majority of housing units in urban centers and are dilapidated structures made from mud, wood and corrugated iron sheets due to long years neglect both by the occupiers and administrators.
  • Working relations between NGOs and Kebele Development committees not clearly defined or evolved;
  • Very little real experience and information sharing among participating NGOs;
  • Duplication of efforts among actors due to poor networking and coordination of activities;
  • Inability to effectively mobilize the target (grass roots) communities and tap into their human, organizational and financial resources;
  • Poor project design, implementation and supervision capacity of kebeles.

Evolution of CCRDA Forums:

Consortium of Christian Relief and Development Associations (CCRDA) is the pioneer NGOs Association in Ethiopia, established by thirteen church-based and secular humanitarian organizations in 1973, with the objective of coordination of relief activities. Since then CCRDA has evolved through different stages of development to attain its current mission, which is the creation of an open, vibrant, questioning, self-reflecting and critical Ethiopian civil society. Its membership currently is more than 280 and is expanding fast.

The evolution of CCRDA Forums started with the formation of Working Groups/Interest Groups in late 1980s, as informal structures, mainly for organizing short-term training programmes in specific interest areas of its members. As they are gaining strength, these Working Groups began to engage in networking and advocacy activities of various degrees in their areas of interest. The major objectives were resource and experience sharing and taking position and voicing together on issues of common concern.

These internal dynamism and the external environment (the relatively better space created by the government for the operation of the Civil Society) were dictated the transformation of CCRDA Working Groups into broad-based thematic Forums/platforms that could handle strategic and important issues that are selected and prioritized by Forum members to represent the interests of the marginalized group in relation to their thematic areas. It is believed that these Forums could actively engage in areas that promote the interests of the CCRDA membership and substantially contribute to the development of the Ethiopian CSO/NGO sector.

Moreover, these Forums were expected to be loose networks with the possibility of transforming into more strong and formal independent networks as the need arises.  They were specifically expected to be purpose and result-oriented in their program design and operation, and be manageable in size.

National Urban Development Forum of NGOS (UDF)

UDF is one of the seven Forums operating under CCCRDA with Focus on urban development issues and the only association of its kind in Ethiopia with an urban agenda. Its membership stands at 52 CCCRDA member and NGOs. It has a seven member Steering Committee which gives leadership, and a full time Forum Coordinator to facilitate daily routines and implementation of programs and projects. Other CCRDA governing organs give leadership and operational support including logistics and financial management.


UDF Objective:

UDF is established by CCCRDA member Charities who are engaged and interested on urban development issues to serve as thematic platform to facilitate networking, collective engagement and capacity building of the members so that they can better serve their constituency in Ethiopia. The specific objectives of the Forum include the following:

  • Facilitate members engagement in collective action and promote member charities and partners joint initiatives of capacity building through mobilizing technical and financial resources;
  • Facilitate dialogue on urban development related policy and thematic issues among the members and between the government and members through organizing seminars, workshops, forums, etc. The aim will be to bring about programmatic alliance and maximize the overall effect of development interventions;
  • Establish strong linkage with CCCRDA capacity building activities, particularly trainings with regard to policy influencing and on emerging development issues. The Forums’ training and capacity building initiatives are geared towards developing members’ capacity in policy influencing and development dialogue.
  • Provide information and networking opportunities that would be channeled through periodicals, seminars and related means;
  • Influence the formulation and revision of polices and practices through conducting researches, particularly utilizing Action Research for understanding grass root problems and initiating possible further joint works; and
  • Facilitate learning among members through organizing experience sharing visits and documentation of good practices for members and partners. The aim is to enhance capacity of members and promote ethics and good practices among members and partners. The primary focus of this objective will be to facilitate drawing valuable lessons from good practices, techniques and approaches that are relevant and appropriate to the socio-economic conditions of the country and the entire CSO community.

Currently UDF is implementing urban development related activities which focus on the following issues of priorities identified by members:

  1. Street begging and alms giving in major urban centers;
  2. Slum development and other urban services;
  3. Livelihood and urban food insecurity in major urban centers.

The Forum member NGOs, organized in to three working groups along the above three issues, are expected to actively involve in the planning and implementation of planned activities which takes different forms.  They make regular meetings to execute their duties and share experiences, knowledge and skills.

Among the major achievements of the UDF to date are:

  • Publication and dissemination of a research material on Challenges of Urban Development in Addis Ababa.
  • Co-organized campaigns on issues of marginalized groups on international days such as World Elderly Day, Global Campaign on Education and World Habitat Day.
  • Organized advocacy and lobby workshops on the street people in Addis Ababa, and the situation of slum dwellers, in relation to MDG in general and the situation of slum dwellers and the ongoing condominium housing project.
  • Organized three local experience sharing visits with publication and distribution of good practices booklets on each.
  • Co-hosted with INTA an international workshop in Addis Ababa with participants from eighteen European and African Nations – the theme “The integrated city-wide approach: local development through integrated urban planning.” (5-7 April, 2006).
  • Managed to make regular monthly half day meeting on which planning, monitoring and evaluation of activities; and networking among members made.
  • Represented the sector and voiced on the concerns of poor urban dwellers on other Forums.
  • Co-initiated and launched the ad hoc advocacy and lobby committee on urban renewal program in Addis Ababa and effects on the urban poor. The group is composed of NGOs, CBOs and government agencies engaged in urban development and currently hosted in CCRDA.
  • Co-initiated and launched National Food Security Network, with the aim of promoting urban food security, which is not getting proper attention in Ethiopia.
  • Co-facilitated and hosted a launching workshop of National Network on Street Children, Child Trafficking and Abuse;
  • Organized different panel discussions on issues related to urban development;
  • Publication and dissemination of a research material on Food Security Situations in Poor Neighborhoods of Major Urban Centers in Ethiopia.