This paper is the synthesis of case studies of four Ethiopian civil society networks: the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat, the Ethiopian Interfaith Forum for Development, Dialogue, and Action, the Network of Ethiopian Women’s Associations and the Poverty Action Network Ethiopia. The networks used the Network Functions Approach developed by the Overseas Development Institute to analyse each other through a peer review process and draw conclusions about their roles, form and functions. The paper highlights key differences between the networks in terms of structure – finding different models and approaches to decentralisation of power. It also finds that the role of networks can shift over time as the membership grows and changes. The paper also looks at the influence donors had on networks and their members, making recommendations on strategies for funding networks. The four networks now face a new challenge as new legislation has been passed in Ethiopia placing restrictions on the activities of externally-funded organisations. This paper considers how the Network Functions Approach featured could help networks adapt to this new context.
Gweneth Barry and Enrique Mendizabal