Traditional rural Community Based Organizations Study

By 25 septembre 2020Emploi

Explore and select the Traditional rural Community Based Organizations (TCBO) in Hadiya zone to engage on community development intervention.


Inter Aide has been implementing rural development projects for several decades, promoting community participation as one of the major stake to ensure ownership and sustainability. In this logic, Inter Aide’s agricultural field teams are working very closely with Traditional Community Based Organizations (TCBO) called Iddirs in Wolayita and Kembata Tembaro zones located in the Southern Nations Nationalities and People Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia, relying on the legitimacy, leadership and potentiality of those TCBO to mobilise rural communities on developmental issues (for more information: Iddirs are traditional collectives established for social support and mutual assistance, and contribute to funerals, burnt houses reconstruction, transportation of critically ill patients… against the payment of a regular membership fee. Iddirs have remained unwaveringly functional for several hundreds of years and, for a family, being excluded from such a collective is a form of social death. Iddirs are well structured, their leaders are democratically elected and serve their community with dedication, and their accounts are transparent and audited. In the event of dissatisfaction, members have the right and capacity to change their leaders.

Inter Aide agriculture project explored and analysed the role, social importance and potentialities of Iddirs in Wolayita and Kembata communities and made a decisive methodological shift by integrating them in the project implementation scheme. Especially in Natural Resources’ Management intervention, which demands co-operative decisions, Iddirs’ roles were actually significant. With the support of Inter Aide, Iddirs activated some new rules directly linked with Natural Resource Management, included them in their traditional bylaws frame and applied them concretely. In the context of Kembata highlands, control of open grazing was enforced by Iddirs and gradually adopted by the community. Empowering Iddirs on Natural Resource Management led to the emergence of an ownership attitude concerning local development. Several Iddirs in Wolayita also demonstrated their capacity to manage degraded communal land rehabilitation project. Another aspect of Iddirs’ plasticity is linked with the capacity to manage common properties. This traditional skill is used to serve their community through distribution and management of agricultural inputs (like small farm tools and seeds). It should be noted that considering the predominant role of men in the Iddirs committee, so far their mobilisation has not allowed to directly strengthen the participation of women to decision-making.

Inter Aide is now preparing for scaling out its proven best practices to the neighbouring communities[1]. Hadiya will be one of major potential zones to cover. The 3-years pilot project in one woreda (district) of Hadiya zone revealed that local communities, though geographically close to Kembata and Wolayita, have their own traditional mechanisms. For instance, the Iddirs organizational system seems different when it comes to capacity, role, power and acceptance. As opposed to the neighbouring zones, there is, in the rural areas of Hadiya, a strong clan-based community organizational system competing with Iddir system. Additionally to scaling out, Inter Aide intends to better understand the role of women in traditional CBO and find a way to better involve them in decision making bodies, in all three targeted zones.

Rationale and justification of the study

In most cases, any community has its own traditional mutual aid system that may vary in terms of importance, legitimacy and power. In Ethiopia it is not common to involve them in community development interventions. However, Inter Aide past experience showed that understanding existing traditional system and taking advantage of their social capital generate effects strong enough to bring sustainable change. With the prospect of resorting to these untapped community inner organisational resources to direct them towards development interventions, Inter Aide has planned this socio-cultural study in the new project intervention zone. In this area, putting effort to understand the socio-cultural aspects from the very beginning is equally important as understanding economic and physical situation. A clear and accurate perception of the organizational context of Hadiya Zone will help to identify which organization Inter Aide will collaborate with in order to achieve the developmental goal.

An assessment mission held in February 2020 brought some highlights on cultural dimensions of the local communities. Here is our understanding for the clan of Fate in Analimo woreda:

The clan structure is the basic unit of the organization of the local society. A clan is an enlarged family extended to all descendants of the same eponymous ancestor. The main source of sovereignty derives from the power exercised over a land or a set of lands. The figure of power that embodies this sovereignty is the equivalent of a Muslim caddy, locally called Dania, whose rule extends over a territory of two kebeles (rural commune). Each and every family of the clan has to pay a yearly contribution of ETB 120 (around 4 euros) to the Dania. At a lesser level of hierarchy and territorial legitimacy, the Dania has a local representative called Washab, who exercises power over a perimeter restricted to a catchment area: 80 families in the visited case. Most of the time, they deal with issues related with collective security, penalties and fines, criminality, social violence, marriages…

A clan is therefore a group of descendants of the same lineage, from a real or mythical forefather. The matrimonial rules are based on strict exogamy, and it appears impossible to get married with a lover from the same clan, except risking banishment. There are therefore 2 ways to be a member of the clan: by birth or by marriage. It was difficult to clarify whether conversion to a religion other than Islam is permitted or not (the clan visited was Muslim, but this clan system extends to areas that are in majority protestant).

As in all the other regions, local Iddirs are present and have an organization which is precisely superimposed on the clan structure. For instance, the 80 clan families living in the visited area were also part of the same Iddir. The respective functions of each organisation are sometimes similar, with of course a hierarchy of instances which allows graduation of responses, the authority of the clan clearly exceeding that of the Iddir.

Objective of the study

The objective of this study is therefore to explore existing traditional rural community organizations in Hadiya zone, and to identify the most common type of organization in the area. Besides, understanding its position, structure, type and obligation of membership, social perception of benefits, operating system…will help to measure legitimacy to mobilise people and feasibility to engage on community development activities. A special attention should be paid to the place and role of women in relation to those organizations (as members or indirect stakeholders).

At first sight, the social legitimacy of the clan is much stronger than Iddir’s in Hadiya, the latter appearing as a mere extension of the clan. The most important area of coexistence is therefore between several clans but time was too short to speak about relationships between those organisations. In this context, the clan seems the dominant structure, territorially, culturally and politically. Moreover, recent experience in Hadiya tends to show that the adhesion of the clan authorities is a critical step in the installation of a collective dynamic in the programme implementation, to such an extent that it is legitimate to think that nothing can be done without their approval, formal or informal. Further, it might be reasonable to think that the social mobilisation will be easier in geographical areas dominated by a single clan.

The agricultural project conducted by Inter Aide mainly focuses on territories corresponding to watersheds (to address consistently the problems of erosion). Ideally, watersheds with a lesser number of clans should be preferable to places where many separate clans coexist, for reasons linked with coordination and combined mobilisation. Yet, considering a watershed, it seems difficult to believe that such a massive area is under the rule of a single clan. It is therefore extremely important to dispose of a socio-topographic diagnosis, establishing linkages between the social organisation and the territory. To reach this purpose, a combined exercise of social analysis and physical mapping could be conducted. Depending on the results of the diagnosis, the inclusion of certain watersheds in the project scope could possibly be reconsidered in cases of excessive organizational complexity or flagrant rivalry between clans.

Main steps of the study

  • Explore existing traditional community based organizations in Hadiya zone through comparative assessment;
  • Proceed to a qualitative analysis to identify best fitting types of TCBO with highest potential to engage and contribute on community development endeavour;
  • Practice interviews and group discussions with different community representatives, religious and clan leaders as well as kebele leaders, in order to explore, understand the mechanisms, structure, role and functioning of different traditional community organizations;
  • Explore the project selected watersheds and identify the existing social structures, clans and Iddirs, together with their geographic implantation
  • Analyze the links between physical and human reality and explore the relations of domination or vassalage between the different clans, their respective members and their formal or informal hierarchy over a given territory
  • Propose and set reference criterions for the selection of the most adapted community traditional organization;
  • Reviewing available literatures to understand in-depth the selected TCBO historical background, functionality and limitations.

Proposed methodology of investigation

Review of relevant documentation such as ‘’Ethiopian Iddirs Mechanisms, case study in pastoral communities in kembata and wolayita” by Thomas Leonard (see the link). Refer to other Inter Aide documents explaining how the project is operating with TCBOs, to past studies related with socio cultural and rural community organizations roles and functioning in Hadiya community, and other related community organizations system and their contributions in community development in Hadiya, SNNPR and Ethiopian context.

Determine the sample for field interview and group discussions within Hadiya zone (targeting in priority area selected by Inter Aide and the government for their topography and the severity of needs). Hadiya zone represents more than 1.7 million population with wider territorial areas classified under 13 rural and 2 town woredas. The zone is characterized by all types of agro-ecologies but dominated by mid-altitude land (‘weyna dega’) which roughly represents 68%. High altitude area (‘dega’) is about 19% and the remaining 13% represents the low altitude (‘kola’) area. Christianity (protestant) and Muslim are the major dominant religions in the zone. The determination of the sample requires considering the major classification systems of local society. Inter Aide future scaling out project will preferably work with communities residing in a range from ‘weyna dega’ to ‘dega’ (humid mid altitude to high-altitude). Thus sampling protocol will have to reflect a fair representation of these areas of the zone.

Submit and discuss the research tools, notably questionnaires and other survey materials developed by the researcher to Inter Aide head quarter chiefs for review prior to finalization.

After reaching consensus, address the survey, collect data through interviews, community conversation and focus groups, and analyse the results.

Propose a tentative mapping of the project area through transect walks so as to determine the social structures profile of each watershed, in other words the main clans and Iddirs present and structurally dominant in a given territory, with their interactions, should be performed. If necessary, in the event of forecasting too great organizational difficulties, propose alternatives in terms of watersheds.

The final draft report of the study will be presented for review to the Inter Aide field team, zonal government and community representatives.


  • Anthropology, ethnology, social sciences or geography background, ;
  • Educational knowledge in agriculture or agro-economy is a plus
  • Good knowledge of Office, (possibly QGIS),
  • Capable of critical analysis of the data
  • Field oriented, tenacity and autonomy, good physical health;
  • Able to cope with rough field conditions;
  • Rigor, good organizational skills, analytical skills;
  • Great interpersonal skills: calm, diplomacy, self-control, respect for values and cultural differences;
  • Demonstrate pragmatism and ability to cope with a heavy workload;
  • Comfortable to work in remote areas
  • Fluent English (including writing skills in English);


  • Duration : 6 months of effective presence
  • French Legal Internship Agreement with legal internship gratification (around 560€ per month)
  • Translator costs covered by Inter Aide
  • Round trip flight / Paris – Addis Ababa
  • Complete social insurance + repatriation insurance

Position to be filled by the beginning of December 2020

The selection of the files will be done as and when they are received.

Applications with a CV of more than 2 pages will not be studied.

Thank you for sending CV + Cover letter under ref. ETH/CBO/2020 at

[1] A description of the project approach is available here :