The Role of Civil Society Organizations in Poverty Alleviation, Sustainable Development and Change : The Cases of Iddirs In Akaki, Nazreth And Addis Ababa

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Addis Ababa University


The purpose of this thesis is to examine the role of civil society organizations in poverty alleviation, change and development with emphasis on Iddirs on their own and in collaboration with Governmental and Non-Governmental organizations. In this thesis Iddir as civil association is considered as one of indigenous civil society organizations in Ethiopia. To meet its purpose the research has employed methods such as in-depth interviews, participant observation, group discussions, archival and document review and analysis of available relevant materials. The thesis has emphasized the additional roles and functions of Iddirs as incipient labour unions, political platforms, non-profit making insurance organizations, change and development agents for socio-politico-cultural and economic life of the people, Iddir as entry points to undertake poverty alleviation and business activities, and recently as an instrument to fight hazards of HIV/AIDS and to support orphans of deceased members. Regarding the internal dynamisms and features of Iddirs, members contributions become permanent and increased rapidly. Leadership and bylaws have been diversified. All in all Iddirs acquired features of modern associations. Hitherto ten types of Iddirs were identified and findings of this thesis indicated seven more specialized and diversified functions and types of newly emerging minor Iddirs. Also types of Iddirs that were forced to disappear during Imperial and Derg regimes, namely, region, ethnic and religion based Iddirs were found to have re-emerged. Besides, variables for classification of the earlier identified Iddirs have been developed by adding three equally important defining variables in one Iddir. Furthermore in cases of Akaki and Nazreth two types of Iddirs, namely, Hawilt Iddirs and Aslekash Iddir died out. As far as Iddir-state relations in the three consecutive regimes, is concerned evidences indicated that there were both common and distinct features among the three regimes. Regarding poverty alleviation and development efforts, Iddirs participated in building schools, clinics, water pipelines, internal road construction and provision of other social facilities and services and the like. Both joint efforts of Iddir-state, and Iddir-NGOs have serious limitations. Generally the so called co-operations or collaborations seems to be co-optations. Also, Iddirs own efforts were severely hampered due to their limited capacity and inherent limitations. In the face of the limited capacity of Iddirs, their umbrella organizations can be a viable coping mechanism to undertake competitive business to benefit Iddirs and their members, provided favourable policy is formulated by the government and if other stakeholders contribute their share. Also there are non-profit oriented efforts such as Limat Akef Mahiber of Kolfe Iddirs. To achieve better results at the levels of individual Iddirs and umbrella organizations their independence



Social Anthropology