Assessment of Government and NGOs Joint Efforts and Role in Drought Mitigation Program. The Case of East Guji Zone Drought Vulnerable Areas

Term Paper, 2021

30 Pages, Grade: 2


Table of content



International and Local NGOs in the East Guji Zone

Overview of NGOs Response to the Eastern Guji Periodical Droughts

Governmental and NGOs Joint Efforts in Drought Mitigation Program

DPPC’s Crisis Anticipation and Early Warning System

Save the Children and Funds

DUBAF/a Local NGO and its funds

Cooperazione Internazionale /COOPI/ and Funds

Community Perceptions of the Response




The focus of this paper is to examine the responses of NGOs and governmental bodies joint efforts in drought mitigation programs of southern Ethiopia, East Guji Oromo drought vulnerable areas in the 20th century. The manuscript also explores the role of thus bodies and the perceptions of local communities towards those organization intervention extents and ways of assistance to occurred hardships. Likewise, the article also tries to look, assess and well exhibit a well-known and still active NGOs in the area and their individual paramount participation, efforts and roles in the drought vulnerable areas of East Guji Zone, and types of aid, assistance, donation and empowering of the vulnerable communities; joint works with governmental organizations like RRC or DPPC and others in crisis anticipation, intervention and rehabilitation activities.

Key words: Drought, NGOs, Government, Negele, Eastern Guji, Oromo, Ethiopia


Like other African countries, Ethiopians have a tradition of helping and supporting mean in times of difficulties or normal times through religious and community based organizations or civil society’s institutions for long periods of time. Some of those Ethiopian traditional self-help associations are, Idr, Mahibar, Equb, Dabo and others (Zekariyas, 2010). Thus traditional self -help institutions and religious organizations have played a great role by leading a good ground for the introduction of local and international NGOs, modern financing systems like:-banking and macro and micro financial enterprises, and by facilitating Ethiopia’s development and growth(Peter,2010). As an example, equb is considered as an effective traditional saving association. Members contribute a certain amount of money usually every month and they give priorities for poor and the needy members to take the first collected money (Zekariyas, 2010).

It is also common that members of this group support and subsidize orphans, oldest man or elders and disable members of a society through groups’ monthly contribution, and even sometimes they give their monthly collected deposit as donation for emergency accidents and problems (Ibid).

The other communal self-help organization is idir. Idir is a non-profit institution organized by group of people who want to help each other during the times of death and marriage. Although, the principal objective of Idir is provision of social services for communities (they buy different gifts usually household utensils during a times of marriage and death) by collecting small sums of money from members. Mostly members of Idir are known in assisting family members of the deceased like orphan children. They cover their school fees, house rents and other expenses. Dabo is also another way of society’s self-help institutions in a form of labor sharing. Free labor service was given to the poor, the elderly and widowed women (Alula, 1992; Zekariyas, 2010).

The person in need asks his neighbors to help him in agricultural activities. Activities like weeding, harvesting, house construction, farming and others are among the most well-known activities which are performed by this institution (Zekariyas, 2010).

Generally, before the introductions of local and International NGOs, all of these Ethiopian native self-help associations and organizations played a vital role in solving communal economic and social problems, and by strengthening and cooperating people’s union, interaction and relationships. All of those local institutions are still now active in both urban and rural Ethiopian areas (Zekariyas, 2010).

However, these indigenous self-help associations did not solve serious problems (like, famine, poverty, and drought) due to lack of financial power. In order to fill this gap and for other social, cultural, economic and political problems NGOs take such responsibilities. For this reason various NGOs came to Ethiopia around the second and third decades of the twentieth century. Sources indicate that, during the times of Empress Zawditu foreign missionaries entered Ethiopia through the support of Ras Tafari who was supportive of foreign missionaries (Alula, 1992; Clapham, 1969).

After 1941, the number of foreign NGOs and missionaries increased. Emperor Hayla Sellase was worried by the great flux of NGOs and missionaries into Ethiopia. In1960, the government introduced a regulation to control the activities of NGOs, public associations and missionary religious organizations. Similarly during that year various international, local NGOs and missionary organizations were registered officially and opened their branch offices in Ethiopia (Ibid, Zekariyas, 2010).

Among those organizations some of them were, Swedish Save the Children (SSC), International Red Cross Society (IRCS) or the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS), Makana Eyasus Evangelical Church (MEEC), Christian Relief and Development Agency (CRDA) and other relief organizations were set up in Ethiopia (Alula, 1992; Zekariyas, 2010).

But, most of their participation or activities were hampered by the Emperor’s strict control mechanisms in fear of the Emperor feudal-bourgeois opposition against the imperial regime. The 1973/74 famine affected ten provinces of the country. The famine claimed the lives of thousands of people in Wallo, Tigray and other parts of the country. However through the efforts of foreign Ethiopian students (Ethiopian students studying in Europe and USA) and Jonathan Dimbiliby’s “Hidden Famine” documentary films and after it was opened or released in different European countries TV screens. Then this event brought to the attention of the international public societies through extensive humanitarian appeals supported by broad media coverage which detailed the extent of the catastrophe. An organizational network was formed, to coordinate activities and programs and intervention policies (Alula, 1992).

Then Emperor Hayla Sellasse accepted that the arrival of relief organizations to alleviate the pestilence of famine. Because, the tragic famine was grew to be beyond the ability of his government to manage, forced the imperial government to open its doors to relief organizations or NGOs (Alula, 1992).

In 1984/85 another devastating famine broke out in Ethiopia. The Darg was forced to allow a large influx of Western NGOs into the country. Between 1980 and1990s the number of NGOs operating in Ethiopia grew from forty above to 106. As various pastoral studies and sources indicate that since 2000 the number of local and international NGOs in Ethiopia shows a dramatic increment. For instance, in the year 2009 more than 4,677 humanitarian and other NGOs were registered under the Ministry of Justice to operate and participate in development and public service activities rather than relief operation (Zekariyas, 2010).

International and Local NGOs in the East Guji Zone

The first half of the twentieth century is considered as a turning point for the arrival of foreign relief organizations in Ethiopia. In the twentieth century, mainly because of modern communication and transportation the number of foreign missionaries coming to Ethiopia increased. These missionaries expanded their religious activities through missionary schools. But most of the activities conducted by those missionary schools were highly religious oriented. For instance, the Swedish and German Herman burg evangelical missionaries are among early comers. However, the 1960s witnessed the arrival of modern international organizations like MEEC, IRC, and CRDA others in Ethiopia. Most of them were based in Addis Ababa until the 1970s famine, but the Makana Eyasus Evangelical Church (MEEC) set up its branch in different parts of Ethiopia (i.e. even in peripheral areas) mainly in southern and western provinces after it was renamed the Ethiopian Makana Eyasus Evangelical Church (Zekariyas, 2010; Clapham, 1969).

To teach its doctrine for local communities, the Church opened various temporary shelters in some areas. The Church did not only give religious teaching but also modern education side by side, and beyond this the church also supported local peoples economically when they faced difficulties (Ayinalem, 1998).

One of the churches was established at Hagara Maryam (current Bule Hora). Previously, Hagara Maryam Makana Eyasus Church embraced larger areas of the southern Sidamo provinces. It includes Borana, Jamjam, Gedeo, Sidama, Arero awrajas and other waradas. Among these awrajas, Jamjam or the current East Guji zone is the one which still has close connection with the church of Makana Eyasus ( Gemechu, 2002; Ayinalem, 1998).

As sources indicate the church of Makana Eyasus is the first religious organization which set up its office in the remote lowlands of East Guji and Borana (i.e. Dolo-Odo MEEC and Hostel) followed by the 1970s Ethiopian Red Cross Societies and other non-permanent relief organizations. In the 1970s famine period there were three local and international INGOs that opened their offices in the East Guji-Borana areas. However during the 1984/85 famine, the numbers of relief organizations operating in the areas increased greatly (Ayinalem, 1998).

Following the separation of both East and West Guji Zone and Borana Zones from Sidamo province and after a change of government in 1991, various foreign NGOs arrived to operate in the marginalized pastoralist areas and few numbers of local NGOs also emerged in the East Guji areas (Jamjam, 2007).

According to the East Guji Zone Governmental and NGOS registration office until1999 around sixteen permanent international and local NGOs were registered to operate in East Guji areas. In addition eight NGOs opened temporary offices. Save the Children both USA and UK and Sweden, SOS-Sahel, Dubaf, Coopii, Pastoral Community Development Project, AFD, IIRR, and others are some of the relief organizations which set up their office both in the lowland and highland areas of East Guji. Those voluntary agencies worked in different developmental fields and social service activities beyond relief operations. Some of these areas were education, medical service, integrated rural development, water development, infrastructure development, livestock diversification, micro credit service, drought and early warning, children development, women empowerment, integrated urban development and human rights defense program (Jamajam, 2007, Ayinalem, 1998).

Overview of NGOs Response to the Eastern Guji Periodical Droughts

For long periods of time the East Guji pastoralist people were not beneficiaries from the central government incentives and other benefits. For instance, governmental social service institutions like: School, health care, infrastructural and water supply facilities were mostly unknown among the East Guji. There was only one, health care center at Adola-Wayo or Kibra-Mangest (Ayinalem, 1998; Jamjam, 2007).

As a result, majorities of the East Guji people have been suffering from lack of medical and education facilities. However for a long time, they were forced to pay taxes and tributes both in cash and in kind for the central government. In addition to inter clan conflicts and security problems, periodical droughts and famine affected the East Guji communities severely (Ayinalem, 1998).

Like famine victims in Wallo and Tigray and the central government failed to provide emergency food to East Guji communities. According to the 1980 EMEEC annual report, in the years of 1972/73, and 1976/78 drought and famine period’s more than 13,500 East Guji peoples faced acute food shortage. And the responses of NGOs were scarce or rare due to insecurity in the area caused by the Somalia irredentist rebels, shiftas (bandits) and robbers. Relief efforts were further hampered by the outbreak of the Ethio-Somalia war in July 1977. As a result a military base was set up at Nagale town. Somali irredentists tried to bring the East Guji and Borana ethnic groups into conflict. But, Ethiopian officials could manage to avoid the conflict (Alula, 1992; Peter, 2010).

As Ogaden areas became the main battle grounds conditions were difficult for relief assistances and food distribution. But, the Ethiopian Makana Eyasus Evangelical Church sheltered more than 3,678 drought affecteds and war displaced people for two years. And side by side the church also gave both regular and religious education for more than hundred orphans and children from poor families (MARC, 1987).

The other relief for the East Guji people next to Makana Eyasus Church came from the Ethiopian Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC). For the first time the RRC tried to support the East Guji people in 1978 by distributing around one and half quintal of sorghum and wheat grain per family. But, as informants and written documents stated that the donations of RRC for the East Guji communities was not fairly distributed and did not reach to the hands of poor people. Rather half of the grain remained among the hands of local state officials and their families. The second RRCs aid was robbed by the Somali insurgents (Ayinalem, 1998; MARC, 1987).

During that time of hardship many East Guji people migrated to the stable and fertile Gedeo and Sidama Awraja, and generally the 1970s drought and famine claimed the lives of many people and livestock.

My East Guji informant Jarso Dhuka explains the severity of the 1970s drought as follows:-

My name is Jarso Dhuka and my birth place is Siminto village of southern Guji people. When the 1972/4 East Guji drought and famine occurred my age would be around 18 or 19 but I don’t know my exact age. However, the harsh effects of those famine and silence governmental and NGOs response to drought and famines are recorded in my mind. The East Guji lowlanders were displaced from their village by the Somali bandits and their cattle were raided by those shiftas or robbers. And drought and famine claimed the lives of thousands of livestock. For instance, due to lack of water and pasture my family alone lost 76 cattle out of 83 and the same is true for our Siminto village and Liban societies in particular and East Guji in general. And my father sold seven of the remaining cattle with cheap price and he bought sorghum and other cheap cereals for our family. In the middle of 1974 due to lack health center in our district and Awraja my father died of Malarias infection (locally called “Boke Buussa”). Later our households’ burden was shouldered by my mother and she began to make charcoal with my elder brother and exchanged two sacks of charcoal for three kilograms of grain and she was doing that dangerous work for more than eight years. But, in 1975 through our traditional relief assistance mechanism of “Dabare”, we collected around 32 heads of cattle from our clans and other donors (locally called “Dureessa”). Again in 1976 another severe drought destroyed 17 of our cattle, and as a response to that famine and to save our life, we moved to Ganale River banks and we lived there for one decade and at the ends of 1986 we came back to our previous and present village of Siminto (Ayinalem, 1998).

Six years later another catastrophic famine occurred in East Guji lands in particular and Ethiopia in general. The major causes of 1984/85 Ethiopian famine were the occurrence of unfavorable climatic condition, and crop failure. Numbers of famine victims and in need of relief assistance rose up from six million in 1984 to ten million in 1985. The 1984/85 famine was much more devastating than previous famines. It affected more than 90% of Ethiopian territories. Among these areas Sidamo was one of the provinces highly affected by the famine with more than 185,800 affected people. Among the awrajas of Sidamo, Wolayita, Nagale-Borana, Arero and Jamjam were severely affected by an extended famine (Alula, 1992; Gemechu, 2002).

As a response, ERCS, CRDA, EMEEC and OXFAM, distributed large amounts of maize, barley and pulses for famine victims in Wolayita, and camp was set up at Dollo-Odo where more than 8,500 famine victims were sheltered. There were also more than 23,000 famine victims who came to the camp monthly to take grain, palm oils and other food items. During that time the Dollo-Odo camp gave service for more than 16 months. The relief camp was closed in 1987(Ayinalem, 1998; Alula, 1992).

Later in the year 1992 the camp was reopened and still it shelters refuges from Somalia Republic and other needy people. The church of EMEEC also opened three distribution points at Shakiso, Nagale Borana and Kibra Mangest towns and starting from the ends of 1984 the church distributed more than 9,700 tons of grains (like:- Maize, Wheat, Pulses, Barley and other food items) for more than 6,836 (i.e. around two quintals were given for each family) affected peoples. Drought and famine affected the East Guji people until the beginnings of 1986 (Ayinalem, 1998; Jamjam, 2007).

A relief camp was distributed wheat to Gedeo and maize, sorghum and wheat for the Jamjam drought affected people. In addition to the food, cloth, and medical care provided by those NGOs and church relief organizations, the Darg also allocated around $ 65,000,000 for grain purchase and $ 46,000,000 for internal transportation costs. And, between the two famine years, more than 1,050,208 metric tons of food and medical services were distributed for famine victims through RRC and other voluntary agents and channels (Alula, 1992; Peter, 2010).

According to the 1986 RRC’s report, in the year 1984/5 alone, more than 761,594 tons of grain was distributed for more than 167,600 Jamjamtu and Borana famine victims at Nagale-Borana military base distribution center and different awraja and warada police stations. However, it is difficult to ascertain that all the grain had reached the hands of affected people. Documents and informants stated that some state officials had misappropriated the grain and used relief food for their own benefit (Gemechu, 2002).

For instance, in the year 1985, the then Awassa police station captured large amount of grain from illegal merchants’ which was sold for them by the Borana Zone (i.e. Jamjamtu, Moyale and Liban awraja) officials. After Darg’s down fall in 1991, particularly in the pastoralist East Guji areas continuous droughts were occurred (i.e. 1992/97and 2000).

During those drought years large numbers of livestock were affected by cattle diseases (like:-Anthrax, Foot and Mouth Disease and Blooding diseases) and shortage of pasture and water poles. International NGOs like: COPPI, SOS-Sahel, AFD, PCDP and others were involved in digging of deep hand pumped water points both for livestock and human beings. Animal fodder was distributed for drought affected East Guji zone cattle, particularly among Goro Dolla Warada, Liban Warada, Nagale town and Wadara Waradas (Gemchu, 2002; Alula, 1992; Asebe, 2007).

Besides, large veterinary medicines were given for affected waradas. Animal health care centers were set up. Direct medical treatment was given for infected cattle by NGOs veterinary doctors and skilled personals (Peter, 2010).

Local NGOs like EMEEC and DUBAF also played a vital role through establishing warehouses and distribution stations(both to human and livestock) for donor organizations and through coordinating NGOs assistance and directing them which pastoralist areas was in need of emergency livestock and human food assistances. During both drought seasons the numbers of affected people was low because the northern parts of East Guji were receiving rain and the price of crops in local market was stable (Jamjam, 2007).

As soon as the drought season began and many people moved with their cattle to Kibra Mangest, Ganale and Bale areas. But peoples of northern East Guji were in conflict with Gedeo people both in 1995and 1997, that is why the southern drought affected people did not move to Gedeo areas (Asebe, 2007).

According to the 1998 COPPIs annual reports, the cost of the total assistance given by four NGOs (COPPI, PCDP, and ERCS) for the East Guji pastoralists in the form of silage, hay and veterinary medicine was estimated to be around 1,876,106.48 ETB. This indicates that after 1991 the effects of famine for human beings were not as severe as the previous years and large numbers of NGOs were active to give support in the East Guji areas (Ayinalem, 1998).

In 2000/2001, another drought and famine occurred in the East Guji zone. The 2000/2001 drought was more devastating than the earlier ones and a large number of livestock perished due to lack of rain both in East Guji and Borana areas. As the East Guji zone Agriculture and Pastorialism Bureau documents indicate, during the above two years drought and famine period large number of cattle perished. In an attempt to mitigate the effects of the drought in the area, local and international NGOs tried to support the local people by distributing wheat, maize, haricot beans and other grains for human beings, and grasses and fodder for affected livestock (Jamjam, 2002).

For instance, in the year 2000 drought/famine period more than 516 East Guji people from Liban, Shakiso and Goro-Dolla faced an acute shortage of food and as a response the then Borana Zone RRC office distributed more than 37 tons of wheat grain among affected peoples at Nagale Aid Distribution warehouse. Similarly, relief organizations like:- COPPI and SOS Sahel highly participated in digging underground water points to save the lives of livestock.

Later due the collaboration efforts of NGOs and DPPC and the East Guji Zone Agriculture and Pastoralists Bureau the lives of large numbers of cattle could be saved. Another drought occurred in the year 2001 mainly in the three pastoral districts of East Guji Zone (namely, Goro Dolla, Liban, Wadara and Nagale) and a large number of livestock died but due to the collaborative efforts of more than sixteen NGOs and DPPC there was no human casualty (Jamjam, 2007).

For instance, during the 2001drought/famine, the RRC distributed more than 126 tons of wheat, barley and 3,158 K.G Oil for hundreds of famine victims in Liban warada. Local and international NGOs also tried to supply water for thirsty livestock using tanker trucks and distributing fodder (Gemechu, 2002).

Even then, a great number of cattle had already perished. The death of livestock came to an end after the beginning of rain. In 2009/10 another drought also affected pastoralists’ living in the same three waradas of East Guji Zone (i.e. Goro-Dolla, Wadara and Liban). Due to the failure of Ganna and Hagayya rainy seasons and more than 32,236 pastoralists and semi-pastorialists faced shortage of food. But many lives were saved due to the collaborative efforts of DPPC, ERCS and other humanitarian relief organizations. For instance, in the year 2010, ERCS distributed huge amounts of nutritional foods and grain for affected peoples. Especially, children, mothers with babies and elders were the targets of ERCS food distribution. However, livestock deaths were high in the three waradas of East Guji Zone (DPPC, 2013).


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Assessment of Government and NGOs Joint Efforts and Role in Drought Mitigation Program. The Case of East Guji Zone Drought Vulnerable Areas
Ethiopian History
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Ngos, Civil Society, Government, Drought, Vulnerable, Pastorialist, Mitigation, Women, Livelihood, Guji Oromo, Ethiopia, .
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Mengesha Robso (Author), 2021, Assessment of Government and NGOs Joint Efforts and Role in Drought Mitigation Program. The Case of East Guji Zone Drought Vulnerable Areas, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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