Development partners

Development partner is a term that is widely used in the field of international development aid to describe any organisation working in partnership with national and local government bodies. It does not have a precise definition – there are different types of partnership – but it is applied to organisations that provide development assistance in some form.

Can you name some of the organisations working in your local area on WASH projects?

Show answer

There are many WASH organisations working throughout Ethiopia, some throughout the whole country and others in specific regions. You may have named USAID, UNICEF, IDE, World Vision, WaterAid, Save the Children, SNV, and at regional level, Relief for Society of Tigray, Relief for Amhara, Oromia Development Association and several others.


Donors are development partners that give funds directly to the government for any developmental activities. Sometimes the term donor partner is used. In the list of OWNP stakeholder types identified in Section 9.1, donors are categorised as major stakeholders. The main OWNP donors include the World Bank, the UK Department for International Development (DfID), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and UNICEF. These partners have pooled their funds into the Consolidated WASH Account.

Non-governmental organisations/civil society organisations

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) play an important role as stakeholders in the OWNP. Box 9.1 explains these two terms in more detail. In the stakeholder categories in Section 9.1, these are represented in the associated and collaborating stakeholder groups.

Box 9.1 Terminology explained: NGOs, CSOs, and other development partners

There are many terms associated with development assistance that have quite similar meanings and their use may be confusing. As well as development partners, you will have already heard of NGOs and CSOs. These two abbreviations are frequently used interchangeably and, in many circumstances, can be understood to mean the same thing.

Non-governmental organisation (NGO), in its broadest sense, means any organisation that is not part of a government. NGOs are non-profit organisations that typically ‘seek to influence the policy of governments and international organisations and/or to complement government services such as health and education’ (WHO, n.d.).

The term civil society organisation (CSO) is applied to organisations that are not commercial, not part of government, and not based on family. CSOs are groups of people who organise themselves to pursue shared interests. Examples include community-based organisations, village associations, environmental groups, women’s rights groups, farmers’ associations, faith-based organisations, labour unions, co-operatives, and professional associations (Advisory Group on Civil Society and Aid Effectiveness, 2008).

You can see that these two definitions are very similar. Not part of government and non-profit-making are common to both and, as noted above, for most purposes can be considered to be synonymous (have the same meaning).

There are some further distinctions to be aware of. NGOs may be local, national or international, depending on their geographical area of operation and influence. Well-known international NGOs (INGOs) include Plan International, WaterAid, and World Vision International. INGOs often also have country teams as well as international orginasations, e.g. Plan Ethiopia, WaterAid Ethiopia and World Vision Ethiopia.

NGOs like these raise most of their funds in industrialised countries from donations by individuals and businesses. Through publicity campaigns and fund-raising events, the NGOs raise awareness of the need for financial aid in the developing world and people donate money to be disbursed as development assistance.

Other terms you may come across are ‘bilateral’ and ‘multilateral’. Bilateral means two sides. Bilateral aid donors, sometimes known as bilaterals, are departments or agencies of national governments which donate funds to another country. For the OWNP, bilateral donors include DfID (UK), USAID, JICA (Japan), and the governments of Italy, the Netherlands, and Norway amongst others.

Multilateral institutions, or simply multilaterals, include the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the United Nations and its agencies such as UNICEF and UNESCO, and the World Health Organization (WHO). Note that sometimes all aid organisations including bilaterals and multilaterals may be labelled as NGOs even though, strictly speaking, some of them are not ‘non-governmental’.

NGOs work in WASH activities throughout the country. They play an important role in delivering water and sanitation services, hygiene promotion, piloting new approaches, reaching remote areas and groups and supporting learning and knowledge sharing. The valuable contribution of NGOs is recognised in the WASH Implementation Framework, where NGO-managed projects are included as one of the four implementation approaches.

Figure 9.2 A water point in the Amhara region with emblems of UNICEF and the European Union indicating they provided funds for the installation.

NGOs working with WASH activities have formed the Water and Sanitation Forum (WSF), which meets regularly. The WSF has an executive body and a secretariat. WASH NGOs are also represented on a number of Task Forces in the MoWIE, the MoH and the MoE, as well as in the membership of the Water Sector Working Group (see next section). In the regions, WASH NGOs collaborate with sector bureaus by participating in Technical Working Groups and forming WASH Forums to coordinate planning and implementation.

NGOs play a number of important roles in OWNP implementation. NGOs participate in sector reviews and evaluations such as the semi-annual Joint Technical Review (JTR), an annual Multi-Stakeholder Forum (MSF), and regular meetings of the Forum for Learning on Water and Sanitation (described in more detail in Study Session 11). WASH NGOs also implement WASH projects and undertake studies, evaluations and other activities for international multilateral and bilateral organisations such as the European Union, UNICEF, DFID and others at all levels, from federal level to communities.

Development Assistance Group /Water Sector Working Group

The Development Assistance Group (DAG) for Ethiopia was established in 2001 to ‘foster information sharing, policy dialogue and harmonise donor support to Ethiopia in order to enable the country to meet the targets set in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)’ (DAG, n.d.). The DAG is a collaborative body consisting of development partners who provide development assistance in Ethiopia, according to the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (see Study Session 4). Membership includes all the main bilateral and multilateral donor partners.

The DAG structure has a number of Technical Working Groups (TWGs) for specific sectors. Some of these have been renamed as Sector Working Groups (SWGs), including the former DAG Water Technical Working group, which is now part of the Water Sector Working Group.

The Water Sector Working Group was established in 2014 to support the integrated development and management of water in all relevant sectors. It is a joint government-donor group intended to ‘provide a forum for the government and donors to jointly, promote, support and coordinate sustainable and integrated development and management of water resources.’ (MoWIE, 2014b).

Last modified: Wednesday, 24 August 2016, 4:36 AM