Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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ASSEFA Fiseha, Addis Ababa University, Federal Studies, Ethiopia

Ethiopia has undertaken massive political and social transformation since the fall of the military regime in 1991. Significance of this was the shift from a very centralised unitary system to a federation comprising of initially (1991-1994) 14 and later nine states and two autonomous cities (the Federal Capital Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa) proclaimed in the 1995 constitution. This is referred as the first phase of decentralisation that essentially focused on building the political and administrative institutions of the nine regional states. Motivated by intra-party crisis, district level decentralisation program (DLDP) and the desire to tackle poverty at the local level through empowerment and enhancing participation at the local level another milestone development was the reform at regional state level in 2001 to amend the regional state constitutions to further devolve power from the states to local governments. The aim of such second step decentralisation is to address local demands and preferences, enhance local level development efforts, to bring government closer to the people, enhance local level public participation and allow such units some measure of autonomy to decide things for themselves.This study aims to investigate the state of local level decentralisation in Tigray. There is a growing literature that covers the post 2001 decentralisation efforts in the country. Yet, such studies have rarely covered Tigray. Given that, the regional state has been the major actor in the struggle against the military regime and in the post-1991 state reforms, it makes one curious to examine whether the decentralisation efforts in the regional state have achieved the above stated goals? The study is therefore an empirical one: do local governments in Tigray regional state enjoy some level of political autonomy? Are local governments serving as institutions for empowering the people at the local level or are they agents of the regional state? Are they centres of development in terms of addressing local priorities? The study is based on field work conducted from February to June 2017 covering some six weredas (districts) and three urban local governments from four zones.