Conference name, dates, place

International Conference on Development Studies in Ethiopia, July 11-12, 2003, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Document Type


Presentation Date



The ESRDF, one of the biggest projects funded by the World Bank in Ethiopia, was established on 13 February 1996. It was designed to provide financial and technical support to poor, mainly rural and women communities and community groups, to construct or rehabilitate and maintain basic economic and social infrastructure and services, as well as environmental conservation actions that they prioritized and in which they are willing to invest. In its technical support ESRDF was envisaged to give greater emphasis on strengthening community capacity in project identification, implementation and maintenance. ESRDF is a semi autonomous office and was organized on a decentralized basis. It has a central office and eleven regional offices, including Addis Ababa. The organizational structure employed at all levels is very slim and the staffing consists of a few qualified technical specialists. ESRDF has been operational for the last six years (1996-2002), and the theme of this paper is to go over its success towards achieving one of its top objectives, i.e. community empowerment, by taking ESRDF-Addis Ababa Regional Office as a case study. The ESRDF – Addis Ababa RO has assisted a total of 191 community-initiated projects technically and financially. They have focused on primary education, primary health care, environmental sanitation and development, capacity building and training and income generation. The paper is thus primarily focusing on the extent to which the office’s intervention brings about the enabling environment for communities to decide what their priorities are, to enable them to form their internal committees and elect representatives accountable to them, to participate actively in planning, implementation, management and maintenance of their projects, and to have considerable women’s participation in the decision-making process of communities’ actions in general and activities directly affecting their lives in particular. In order to give life to the discussion in the paper, facts about sub-projects that are relevant to the discussed topics will be demonstrated and presented. At the end of the paper, concluding remarks and recommendations concerning policy implications of community empowerment to the realization of poverty reduction strategy programs in Addis Ababa will be drawn.