Providing pathways to a more democratic and stable Ethiopia and supporting peaceful and inclusive national consensus processes.
WHY USAID/OTI IS IN ETHIOPIA
Ethiopia stands at a critical moment in its political trajectory. In 2018, the country’s historic transition ushered in substantial and long-awaited political, economic, and security reforms. However, long-simmering tensions between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Government of Ethiopia erupted into full-fledged conflict in 2020, derailing the reform process. The Cessation of Hostilities Agreement in 2022 ended the violence, but a lack of consensus on the future of the Ethiopian state continues to drive instability across the country and threatens to impede the National Dialogue—Ethiopia’s forthcoming consensus-building process. In this evolving context, the U.S. seeks to support pathways to a more democratic and stable Ethiopia.
USAID/OTI’S ROLE IN ETHIOPIA
In 2019, OTI launched its program in Ethiopia to support a peaceful and inclusive political transition. The geographic focus is on the capital, Addis Ababa, as well as the regional states of Oromia and Amhara. OTI leverages its strong relationships with key actors and local partners to design and implement activities that address core issues in a fluid political environment. The OTI program:
- Strengthens intra- and inter-group relationships and actions;
- Advances inclusive and constructive public discourse; and
- Mitigates mis/disinformation and hate speech.
- OTI capitalizes on momentum created by the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement to empower key Addis Ababa-based constituencies including politically active youth, women’s rights activists, civil society leaders, media, elders, and customary leaders to participate in the National Dialogue and other peacebuilding initiatives. For instance, OTI provides women activists with mediation and peacebuilding training, then supports their facilitation of community conversations using traditional coffee ceremonies. OTI also promotes regional participation in the National Dialogue by bringing together diverse stakeholders in Oromia and Amhara to discuss, and come to agreement on, contentious issues such as the constitution and the future institutional structure of the Ethiopian state.
- OTI supports peaceful solutions to address the rising conflict in Oromia by building constituencies and amplifying voices that call for peace. Focusing on western Oromia, where conflict is concentrated, OTI engages credible and influential local partners to advocate for continued peace talks and an end to the cycles of insurgency and counterinsurgency violence.
- OTI engages university students to monitor and identify mis/disinformation and hate speech circulating on social media, and partners with media outlets to produce new content that creates space for constructive political deliberation. OTI also provides training for media professionals on the impact of mis/disinformation and hate speech, and on Ethiopia’s media and hate speech laws to better inform content production across various platforms.