Local Ownership and Development Aid: The Case of Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme
Abstract: The concept of local ownership has increasingly become a leading principle of development cooperation. While it is generally accepted that more ownership means more sustainability, there is still much to be done in order to clearly define and measure the concept. This study attempts to provide a conceptual understanding of local ownership. Two dimensions of ownership are identified, external and internal, which involve multi actors and multi-level actions from both sides. The study explores these dimensions in the real world by examining Ethiopia‟s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), a government-donors joint program that covers about 8 million chronically food insecure people across Ethiopia with the aim of filling the food gap, protecting household asset depletion and simultaneously building community-based assets. The case is investigated within the broad development aid context of the country so as to shed light on operationalization of local ownership. It is shown that political commitment from internal and external actors to build consensus and shared vision plays a critical role in enhancing local ownership. Moreover, mutual trust and continuous dialogue among government and partner donors, from conception to implementation, seem to have significantly contributed to PSNP´s strong government ownership. On the other hand, despite the direct involvement of some NGOs in PSNP, there is limited participation of other stakeholders who work on similar issues, impeding strong local ownership of the project. The study concludes by reflecting on the challenges of attaining sustainable local ownership in an environment with complex relationship of various stakeholders and weak institutions.
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