The Context of Strength Based Practice in Non-Governmental Organizations in Addis Ababa

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Addis Ababa University


Over the past three decades, the strength based approach has gained momentum in the way social institutions address the problems of individuals, families, and communities in Western countries. In Ethiopia, existing evidence about the practice of the strength based approach is minimal. Although there are numerous social development programs run by non-governmental organizations, it is not clear to what extent and in what ways the strength based approach is practiced. This study draws attention to the principles of the strength based approach and current practices in three local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Addis Ababa. Using qualitative method and purposive sampling technique, this exploratory study employs key informant interview, focus group discussion and in depth interviews with NGO employees and clients. Secondary sources are also consulted. The method of analysis of this study includes interpretation, allowing meanings to be constructed from the perspective of the respondents. The finding of the study indicates that the NGOs in this study practice aspects of the strength based approach in their work with clients, despite the strength based approach being considered a new development approach. The study also explored challenges and opportunities for NGOs in putting the approach into practice. Based on the findings, ‘the dependency syndrome’ is considered as a main challenge to the practice of the strength based approach. The availability of ‘untapped potential’ in individuals, traditional values in Ethiopia, and pre-existing community initiatives that relate to the principles of the strength based perspective are potential opportunities for practice



Strength based approach; non-governmental organizations; social development; social service; practice