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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Voluntarism and Civil Society. Ethiopia in Comparative Perspective
Authors:Hyden, Goran
Hailemariam, Mahlet
Periodical:Afrika Spectrum
Geographic term:Ethiopia
Development and Technology
Abstract:This article examines the challenges to building a civil society based on strong voluntary associations in Ethiopia, a country like most others in sub-Saharan Africa where neither the social structures nor the institutional setting is congenial to the growth and sustenance of a civic tradition. Drawing on the practical experience of Oxfam-Canada's work with voluntary associations in Ethiopia, the article argues that international NGOs ready to facilitate the growth of local civic initiatives can make a difference even in circumstances where the political opportunity structure is only marginally open. Oxfam-Canada's programme, which does not involve financial support to local partner organizations, shows that it is possible to be actively involved in social and economic development activities, but stretching the role to involvement in promoting civil and political liberties implies risks that neither the Canadians nor the Ethiopians consider worth taking at this point. The article ends by discussing the implications of this research for the study of voluntarism and civil society in Africa, arguing that these issues must be understood in the context of prevailing social structures and the nature of the State on the continent. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English, French and German. [Journal abstract]