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State-NGOs Partnerships in Regional Development: A Case of NGOs Working on Food Security in SNNPR, Ethiopia

 The study focused on ‘Regional State-NGO partnerships’ in Southern Nations Nationalities and People’s Regional state (SNNPR), Ethiopia. The research was conducted with four objectives: to critically analyze and explore the existing regional State-NGO collaboration with international and local NGOs and how their relationships affect the interventions in food security; to explore the understanding and perception of partnership by the two parties; to explore how their partnership is regulated and managed and, finally, to examine the opportunities and challenges of the partnership for regional development.

The research employed a qualitative methodology and adopted a case study approach to explore partnership in the case of organizations working in food security-related programs. Primary data was mainly collected by interview with selected respondents from regional government bureaus and nongovernmental organizations.

The findings suggested that individuals and organizations studied do have a fair level of theoretical understanding of partnership. Related to this, the individuals in the state and in NGOs exhibited a similar understanding of the concept. However, the practicality of the basic tenets of partnership remained a challenge. In the evaluation of the existing relationships, most respondents, especially from NGOs, do not categorize them as partnerships while most government officials did.

It is clear that the two partners have their own agenda in considering the relationship. The government uses it for political benefit, including attracting more NGOs and accessing donors’ and NGOs funds to the region. There is also a suggestion that NGOs use it to fulfill their desire to be protected from government heavy handedness.

The research findings portrayed that at the current state-NGO interplay, in addition to other factors that may determine the relationship, the origin and classification of NGOs plays a role. In connection to this, NGOs origin and their close relations with the source and amount of funds they earn plays a role in determining their relation with their government partners.

Personal relationships play an important role in shaping the relationship between the two partners. The changes in the individuals and leadership in the institutions have led to changes in their relationships.

NGOs operating in the region faced challenges hampering their contribution to regional development. Some of the challenges are related to operational and policy environments in the region. The new charities and societies legislation remains controversial among the state, NGOs and other rights groups. The extreme power vested to the government authorities is considered as challenging the independence and autonomy of NGOs. Moreover, the articles that restrict access to vital sources of funding are considered as fatal to the existence and proliferation of the sector.


Dinksew Taye Eshetu 2009


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