The Relevance of Community-Based Development to Poverty Reduction in Ethiopia (A Case Study on the Experience of Esrdf in the Amhara Region)

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Addis Ababa University


By any standard Ethiopia is the least developed country in the world. The feature of poverty in Ethiopia is complex and multidimensional. Almost half of its people are living under the absolute poverty line. In addition to income poverty, majority of the people have been suffering from lack of basic social and economic services such as education, health, safe drinking water, and housing. The prevalence of these aspects of chronic poverty has been attributed both to manmade and natural factors; intermittent draught, protracted war and policy distortion of the previous regime are often cited as the major ones. The centralized and top-down development planning system that prevailed for years so has been condemned for its inability to reduce poverty and bring development in the country. This led Ethiopia to enact a new long-term development and poverty alleviation strategy. This strategy emphasizes the adoption of a bottom-up and participatory development approach with the primary focus of poverty reduction and sustained economic growth to be achieved through a combination and mutually reinforcing programs at various fronts. The strategy is believed to generate significant payoffs by removing central bottlenecks, fostering community participation and ownership, and improving the efficiency of development program implementations. This is the essence and objective of community-based development (CBD). Currently, (CBD) strategies are being widely applied by governmental and non-governmental organizations. These agenCies translate CBD strategies into action programs through the implementation of development projects Despite vCllying arguments Oil the application of CBD, the approach is universally recognized as the best means to fight poverty in its full dimensions and to ensure sustainable development. For this reason the Government has established an independent CBD facilitating agency called the "Ethiopian Social Rehabilitation and Development Fund-ESRDF" to operate throughout the Country. ESRDF has come through a pilot test, which was reported to be effective in promoting CBD. Moreover, reports show that this agency is bringing significant changes upon the lives of poor rural communities by financing various demand driven development projects. Such success reports can draw the attention of researchers or commentators to prove whether CBD approach is worthwhile to the development needs and realities of Ethiopia. Accordingly, this research was intended to test the validity of this widely propagated approach by taking the experience of ESRDF in the Amhara Region. For this purpose, primmy and secondary data have been collected through fieldwork from various sources. Results of obtained information have been analyzed in line with basic theoretical and conceptual arguments of the subject. The points of references employed for the assessment of the relevance of CBD approach mainly include the proper application of popular participation and empowerment, and other embodiments of these core concepts



Based Development to Poverty Reduction