Development is central to Ethio-Finnish bilateral relations
In the first decade of the 21st century, the international community is, more than ever before, determined to overcome the problem of poverty and glaring development disproportions worldwide. This determination of the international community is accompanied by the evermore widespread conviction that harmonious mankind development requires an active engagement of all countries, communities and institutions that development cooperation cannot only come down to a simple transfer of development aid and must address the entirety of NorthSouth relations.
That is, it must take into account trade, investment, environmental protection, migration issues, and the like. Development cooperation means the practical work that is undertaken with the aim of improving the position of developing countries. It is implemented as country and regionspecific cooperation and multilateral cooperation.
International partners can play a valuable role in assisting Ethiopia in its development efforts. As one development partner, Finland aims to support Ethiopia in addressing some of its key sustainable development challenges and poverty. Hence, the central piece of this article is the bilateral development cooperation between Finland and Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, water management and education are the two main areas for Finland's development cooperation. In addition, it supports the environment, democracy and human rights through Embassy's Local Cooperation Fund (LCF).
The oldest form of cooperation are the projects implemented by Finnish nongovernmental organisations (NGOs). Finland does not give Ethiopia direct budget support but provides humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia through international organisations on an annual basis. Development cooperation is the most important element of relations between Ethiopia and Finland and which is also inline with Ethiopia's Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP).
Development remains central to EthioFinnish bilateral relations
Finnish International Development Minister, Heidi Hautala, said, “The effectiveness and impact of development cooperation will be strengthened. Efforts will be made to enhance Finland’s involvement in and contribution to multilateral cooperation.
“In its development policy, Finland emphasises coherence as well as quality and effectiveness of aid.”
The central goal of the policy, which places an emphasis on Ethiopia's needs and ownership, are eradication of absolute poverty and the achievement of UN MDGs, in addition to education, water, rural development and support to charities and civil society organisations (CSOs). While its priority lies on the promotion of the rule of law, democracy and human rights, sustainable development, improvement of the status of women and children, decent working conditions and reduction of unemployment among young people are some of the intervention areas of the development cooperation. The bilateral development cooperation funding level is some EUR17 million per year.
Minister Hautala said, also, that development policy is being reevaluated both domestically and internationally. The previous government’s development policy programme will not be completely overhauled, as there is an emphasis on continuity with some new directions. For instance, with regard to sustainable development, she said, “The MDGs focus on reducing poverty and are, therefore, important. However, more attention than at present should be paid to the conditions for the rule of law, which are a prerequisite for development.”
Finland will continue to support education, health, communications and environmental technology, and good governance and peace mediation in Ethiopia. Minister Hautala pointed out that Finland is keenly interested in promoting gender equality and issues of disability. She also stresssed that human rights would be an essential and intrinsic part of all development policy and development cooperations. Finland has been supporting the education sector in Ethiopia since the 1980s. The support has been implemented through bilateral programmes and pooled funding mechanisms and directed to development of teacher training and strengthening of special needs education.
During the last two years, the focus has been increasingly in quality improvements. Finland supports the General Education Quality Improvement Programme (GEQIP) with other partners. The overall objective of the programme is to enhance the quality of all government primary and secondary schools throughout the country. This extensive and largescale project is administrated by the World Bank. In sum, the project supports the renewal of curriculum, development of teacher education and supplementary training as well as procurement of textbooks. It also provides school grants and assistance for the schools to improve the evaluation and administrative capacity. According to the Finnish Embassy in Ethiopia, significant improvements have taken place as a result such intiatives - for instance, the curriculum has been reviewed, the qualification requirements for the teacher have been increased, and schools have received text books and school grants.
Some 60,000 students and teachers have participated in teacher education programmes, and supplementary training. In total, 16 million pupils and 225,000 teachers are expected to benefit from GEQIP. The budget for this fouryear programme is about US$400 million.”
Sustainable development with Finnish support
Finnish support has also led to improvements in the coverage of water supply and sanitation services, as well as catchment basin management in rural Ethiopia. Finland’s support for the Ethiopian water sector, which began in 1994, is divided into water supply and sanitation, water resource management of the Eastern Nile, as well as sustainable land management.
The support received by Finland’s water and land cluster programme in 2007–2014 will total EUR53.3 million. The overall objective of Finland's cooperation in water security is to empower Ethiopians to enhance their water supply and sanitation services on regional, national, local and community levels - specifically, in rural areas. It is expected that, as a result of development cooperation activities, the number of Ethiopians living in absolute poverty will fall. Livelihood opportunities will increase, while waterrelated health problems will decrease. Gender and child labour issues will be mainstreamed, thus improving the status of women and children.
Project-based cooperation with the overall objective of enhancing sustainable management of water resources has been implemented in the states of Amhara and BenshangulGumuz. As part of the EasternNile regional cooperation framework, together with the Government of Ehiopia, support to the Eastern Nile Technical Regional Office (ENTRO) and the World Bank, Finland has also prepared a project for integrated watershed management in the TanaBelessub basin. What is more, as part of the Africa Adaptation Programme (AAP) Gaia, a leading partner for innovative solutions for sustainability, together with Ethiopian-based Swan Management Ltd, implemented a project for Identification of Climate Resilient Water and Sanitation Technological Options for Schools, and Sustainable Development through the Promotion of Energy Efficient Cooking in Social Institutions in Ethiopia.
According to Mikko Halonen, senior climate change expert at Gaia, the team identified, evaluated and compiled appropriate technology solutions, approaches and practices that enhance students’ as well as adjacent communities’ capacity and involvement in climate change adaptation efforts in Ethiopia. While the objective to Sustainable Development through the Promotion of Energy Efficient Cooking in Social Institutions in Ethiopia project is to develop a sustainable and replicable model to integrate energy efficiency and mainstream climate change considerations into development cooperation, and to create a solid business setup to disseminate efficient stoves, explained Halonen. The Community Development Fund (CDF), developed for the effective channeling of funds, is at the core of Finland’s water supply and sanitation sector support. The funds are channelled through a local private financing institution directly to communities, which are themselves responsible for constructing the wells and conducting the tendering process for the materials. According to analysis commissioned by the World Bank in 2010, the CDF has clearly led to higher cost efficiency, a faster construction pace and more sustainable results.
Finland also supports catchment basin management and development implemented nationally in Ethiopia, but which is nevertheless part of the broader Eastern Nile development programme. The objective is to improve the opportunities for subsistence of Ethiopians dependent on agriculture at the village level through economic development based on renewable natural resources. The support, also, has a more comprehensive impact on the capacity to adapt to the changes caused by climate change. Whereas, the objective of sustainable land management is to enhance rural living conditions and economic wellbeing by improving land use and increasing production, while maintaining natural resources.