On 5 July 2022, the launch of the Civil Society Innovation Fund (CSIF) was organized in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Funded by the French Development Agency (Agence Française de Développement – AFD), CSIF aims to support new and emerging CSOs dedicated to the development of a more democratic, pluralistic, and innovative civil society sector. Its overall objective is to contribute to a stronger role for civil society in support of a democratic, peaceful, and stable Ethiopia.

INTRAC and its local partner AGAR Development Partners Consulting have been contracted by AFD to provide technical support in project management, coordination, and capacity development of CSIF partners. INTRAC/AGAR team organized the event and coordinated the discussions.

The CSIF approach reflects the varied challenges facing the current transition in Ethiopia. The programme particularly supports new and emerging CSOs working on media, human rights, and gender. CSIF supports three consortia projects, each led by one of three CSOs. These are Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD), Civil Society Resource Centre (CSRC), and Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR).

Together, the consortia comprise a total of 15 local CSOs, with projects focusing on promoting inclusion, community-based dialogues, civil society leadership development, support to grass-roots civil society organisations and legal aid services through human rights-based approaches. The programme has a budget of up to 3 million Euro and will last up for up to 36 months. The third technical partner, Triple Line, will be undertaking an independent evaluation of the programme.

During the launch, Director of AFD in Ethiopia, Ms. Valerie Tehio, expressed her excitement at the “beginning of a new journey” and stated that “it is an honour for us to support these CSOs.” Other speakers Mr Befekadu Hailu, Executive Director of CARD, Ms Abebaye Asrat, Resource and Capacity Building Manager at CSRC, and Mr Ameha Mekonnen, Director at LHR briefly described their consortia partners and the objectives of their projects.

The launch event was followed by a Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) workshop facilitated by the AGAR-INTRAC team consisting of Mr Jebessa Senbeta, Ms Sosena Lemma, Mr Walelign Wondiye and Ms Meti Busha from AGAR, with Mr Paul Knipe, Ms Alison Napier and Ms Willemijn de Bruin as INTRAC’s core staff working on CSIF. The AGAR-INTRAC team will be supported with various national and international experts over the course of the programme.