Skip to content Skip to cookie consent
Skip to content

Case studies

Advocacy in Ethiopia: Self-help groups sustained throughout Covid-19

Self-help groups established by Tearfund partner, EKHCDC, lobby the government to secure their rights to continue meeting safely through Covid-19

2022 Available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Tearfund partner, Ethiopia Kale Heywot Church Development Commission (EKHCDC), has set up almost 15,000 self-help groups (SHGs) throughout Ethiopia. These SHGs meet to discuss community issues, provide loans, and much more. EKHCDC has also provided advocacy training for their SHGs for many years. Due to this training, SHGs have strategically been building long-term relationships with government officials. The government is also well aware of the important role SHGs play in their communities. 

You can download this case study from the panel below. To continue reading it on this page, scroll or swipe down.

Other languages

The spread of the pandemic in Ethiopia and the government’s lockdown measures affected SHGs and their activities immensely. The Ethiopian government’s lockdown measures removed many people’s sources of livelihood and they were threatened with dire poverty. This could have meant the country going back to reliance on foreign aid. However, Ethiopia’s SHGs played an important role in sustaining their communities throughout the lockdown. For example, the importance of the SHGs was highlighted to government officials when the SHGs managed to provide soap and hand sanitizer for thousands of people in Adama Nazareth, Oromia region, Ethiopia. Additionally, due to the advocacy training the SHGs had from EKHCDC, these groups knew how to verify that they could continue their important work, as well as challenge government officials on land issues despite the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Leaders of the SHGs went to the government officials in the regional Ministry of Women Affairs, with whom they had built relationships for many years, to lobby for permission to meet while respecting all Covid-19 preventative measures. Due to the SHGs’ advocacy training, relationship building, and demonstrating their necessity in their communities, the government officials granted the SHGs permission to meet outdoors with no more than 20 people.

However, there were some challenges to the SHGs permission to meet. In some municipalities, local government officials prohibited these groups from gathering, despite the regional Ministry of Women Affairs’ permission. In response, the umbrella structure of SHGs notified a higher level of government officials than the municipality, and the affected SHGs were quickly given safe places for their meetings. Furthermore, the Oromia regional government gave official recognition to SHGs as legal entities, different from associations or cooperatives, which was the first time EKHCDC’s SHGs had gained this recognition. This legal recognition secures SHGs with rights that protect their members and communities.

EKHCDC’s SHGs have reaped the benefits from building their capacity to engage in advocacy, building relationships with government officials, and proving their impact for good on their communities in their rapid Covid-19 responses. Despite strict Covid-19 lockdown measures in Ethiopia, the SHGs were able to continue meeting and supporting their communities through the pandemic.

This short case study, on the theme of livelihoods, illustrated the impact of using the following advocacy approaches:

  • Church and community mobilisation
  • Relationship building
  • Demonstrating good practice
  • Government officials: meeting with
  • Government officials: lobbying

Case studies can be used alongside the Advocacy toolkit, giving practical examples of the approaches it sets out.

Similarly Tagged Content

Share this resource

If you found this resource useful, please share it with others so they can benefit too.

Get our email updates

Be the first to hear about our latest learning and resources

Sign up now - Get our email updates

Cookie preferences

Your privacy and peace of mind are important to us. We are committed to keeping your data safe. We only collect data from people for specific purposes and once that purpose has finished, we won’t hold on to the data.

For further information, including a full list of individual cookies, please see our privacy policy.

  • These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

  • These cookies allow us to measure and improve the performance of our site. All information these cookies collect is anonymous.

  • These allow for a more personalised experience. For example, they can remember the region you are in, as well as your accessibility settings.

  • These cookies help us to make our adverts personalised to you and allow us to measure the effectiveness of our campaigns.