A Call to Action: Mobilising Local Resources in Ethiopia for Urban IDPs

Evan Easton-Calabria, Delina Abadi and Gezahegn Gebremedhin

Forced Migration Review, Issue 63, February 2020



In 2018, about 1,300 registered IDP households and many unregistered IDPs fled ethnic conflict in the Somali region of Ethiopia to seek safety in Adama, the capital of the Oromia region. The city government led a successful multi-level response that included action by sectoral government bureaus, private sector actors, kebeles (districts), community-based associations, NGOs and individuals.

City and regional government used the media—TV and social media—to appeal for support, or approached the private sector directly. Successful communication came from ‘cascading’ a single message through federal, regional and local government.

The local private sector donated cash, basic necessities such as food and blankets, and steel roofs, cement, iron bars and sand for the construction of houses. Some even sponsored the building of multiple houses. Free media coverage in exchange for donations played a huge role in successfully mobilizing funds.

Local NGOs offered IDPs basic necessities and especially targeted women, mothers and children.

In addition to donating cash, clothing and other material support, local individuals cooked hot meals for the IDPs for several days. Some Idirs (informal institutions established between neighbors, families or friends) also stepped in to offer support.

Over $1 million was raised in the span of just a few months, without international assistance. The response led to the construction of 2,000 houses in which 1,340 registered IDP households and about 500 IDP minors have settled. However, it was more difficult to facilitate other needs such as employment, which require ongoing relationships and the availability of certain skills.