BY WOSSENSEGED ASSEFA
In early October 2021, a video was posted online of two Ethiopian police officers brutally attacking a woman who was with her child. The video immediately went viral and public outcry followed shortly after. Just a day later the current Minister of Labor and Skills Development in Ethiopia, the then Minister of Peace, Mrs. Muferihat Kamil, announced that the two police officers who were involved in the incident had been arrested. Later that week the Mayor of Addis Ababa, Adanech Abebe, announced that the city administration would be giving the victim of the incident money and employment to compensate for what happened.
However, this story is one of many stories of recent times that have had a similar consequence. For example in December 2021 a story about a boy, Biniam Getachew, whose father was a soldier that had died during the ongoing war in Northern Ethiopia; was brought into the spotlight by EBS television. This heartbreaker of a story brought many to tears and touched the heart of many Ethiopians. Moved by such a story the boy and his family were met by financial and emotional support from all over the country, and even the Addis Ababa City Administration also provided him with condominium housing.
Earlier this year, another story of a girl who was a victim of gang-rape received the spotlight. Ekram, a 13 year old girl, was a survivor of a brutal gang-rape by the TPLF militants. After her emotionally charged story many were left in tears and touched by the perseverance of the young girl who despite living through such tragedy said: “Soldiers of the terrorist TPLF Group raped me to disgrace me. But, I will not succumb to such a terrible act of the terrorist Group militants; rather the suffering they caused to me will uplift my spirits for better achievements in my life”, as reported by Fana Broadcasting Corporate. Following her story a well-known Ethiopian business man, Belayneh Kinde promised to cover all her educational costs until she finishes school. Additionally just a few days earlier the Addis Ababa City Administration once again has handed over the keys of a housing unit to Ekram.
During times of crisis stories like these seem to abound in number, and although providing aid for those in need is something to be commended, when it comes to the government there is a need to do it in a more systematic and institutionalized way. When it comes to providing aid, it seems only the situations that are in the spotlight see the government deployed to provide relief and aid. On the surface this seems practical, but upon further inspection this system of late delivery and haphazard aid distribution has left hundreds of thousands of people suffering with no solutions in sight, and this should not become the norm.
A government cannot act as an individual would and give aid only to those that have been recognized by the general public. A government should have a more organized and procedural way of distributing aid as equally as it can to the best of its ability so that it can provide financial support equally to its citizens across the country. To do this a government should institutionalize aid and support and effectively utilize a more formal and fair way of distributing aid and support.
The importance of government institutions in society and their impact on development cannot be overstated. They shape the rules of the game that people and organizations need to understand to make decisions. By institutionalizing a process, the process follows a more standardized set of practices and procedures. This makes it possible for an institution to execute procedures in the same manner across the whole organization. By institutionalizing its processes, an organization can develop more uniform ways of doing things and avoid inconsistencies in the way procedures are applied among various divisions or teams.
In regards to aid, institutionalization of the sector would help the country distribute aid in a fair and equal manner. The problem with indiscriminate aid could be solved if the country would create an institutionalized agency in charge of regulating aid flows. Instead of giving aid only to those that the media has shone a light upon the government would be able to help suffering citizens who have not been lucky enough to get the spotlight.
The Ethiopian government should be able to utilize government assistance programs by the means of aid institutions. An example to such practice was the “Hitsanat Amba” program that was implemented by the former Derg regime. This government assistance program was put in place to help the orphaned kids of Ethiopian soldiers who lost their lives during the various wars that Ethiopia went through.
Even though Hitsanat Amba was founded specifically to help orphans of Ethiopian soldiers, after the founding of this institution thousands of children who were orphaned, whether through war or any other means received, aid and support equally. Many lived to tell the tales of what it was like to grow up there and even more so are thankful for the opportunity provided to them by the institution since it shaped a major part of their lives and served as a basis for their independent lives that followed.
Another great example to how aid can be institutionalized is how the American government assists the families of its soldiers. The American government has a long history of providing aid to families of soldiers that have died or were wounded while on duty. The government helps these families in different ways. First, the government provides a wide range of healthcare services to these families. So if a soldier is killed or wounded during his military service, his family can receive the best medical care that is available. Second, the government also assists these families by providing them with schooling opportunities.
The government uses the bill known as post- 9/11 G.I bill to assist these soldiers in paying for their education while they are away fighting for the country. In addition to that, the government provides housing assistance and medical care for active servicemen and their dependents.
The Ethiopian government could, for example, follow in the footsteps of the American government and provide aid to its soldiers by providing assistance to their families. To do this the government could potentially provide training and job opportunities to the widows/widowers of its soldiers. It could also provide free healthcare, education and housing for its soldiers’ dependents. These practices instead of being provided to only people who receive the spotlight, could help many who are in need but aren’t lucky enough to get the spotlight of the media.
As illustrated by the “Hitsanat Amba” program of the late Ethiopian government, governments should be able to implement government assistance programs as a means of aiding different categories of people. The reason being is that such a program would be beneficial in many aspects. By making the distribution of aid as uniform as possible through the use of institutional practice the government can reach more of its citizens who are in need of aid. Institutionalizing aid can help allocate funds to those who need it most. Institutions have a more organized, precise, and stable nature that can provide more support in the aid sector for citizens in need.
Countries will benefit from these institutions by distributing their resources throughout the people and not just focusing on those whose stories hit the media. Apart from achieving better distribution the institutionalization of aid can also help fight corruption and minimize the unnecessary loss of resources. By institutionalizing the sector, the government will be able to allocate aid and support in a much more effective way. Accordingly, the Ethiopian government has to ensure that it coordinates and implements effective programs through the use of aid institutions to provide effective and fair aid distribution.
Editor’s Note: The views entertained in this article do not necessarily reflect the stance of The
The January 20/2022