ACORD's Film Demonstrates Meaningful Community Participation
ACORD's film ‘Iddirs Beyond Funeral' puts in the spotlight the transformations witnessed in community development in Ethiopia as a result of structured social mobilisation. The 21-minute film captures a unique social practice that is adapting to modern day challenges and addressing wider development issues.
What are Iddirs? What do they do?
Around 50% of households in urban Ethiopia belong to an Iddir. Traditionally, their main purpose is to provide mutual support in time of death, making it easier for families to bury their loved ones by supporting the funeral arrangements. The Iddirs can be relied upon to provide financial, material and emotional support during the bereavement period.
A cooperatives and micro-credit centre in Addis Ababa
Photo by Nicky Bevan
ACORD has been working with nearly a thousand Iddirs covering 163,000 households in Dire Dawa, Adis Ababa and Shashamene since 1995 implementing a series of 5 year urban development programmes. The emerging ambition of Iddirs has signaled the need for umbrella organisations many of which have formed with support from ACORD and are engaging in activities from micro-credit operations to HIV/AIDS awareness and support, playing a key role in urban development. The broader scope of Iddir activity has made capacity building a necessity for leaders and members alike. ACORD provides training in formal procedures, governance, financial transparency, project management and advocacy issues. ACORD also continues to harness the potential of Iddirs for literacy campaigns, formal education, micro-credit operations, slum rehabilitation, and HIV/AIDS awareness.
"There is a lot of work that we do together with ACORD. We give technical assistance to income generating activities. We work with different society members especially women who live with HIV and AIDS. We also work with young people on HIV/AIDS prevention and control", explains Yahu Walashet Wubishet from Dire Dawa.
From 250 to 3,000 Birr
Zinash attending to clients at her cloth shop in Addis Ababa
Photo by Nicky Bevan.
Zinash runs a clothes shop in Addis Ababa and is a beneficiary of an Iddir-run Savings and Credit Scheme. "Both my mother and I were members of the Iddirs Credit and Savings Association. We each borrowed 5,000 Birr and I opened this shop with 10,000 Birr. It has been 3 years since I started working here. Now I have about 3,000 Birr income per month. My initial income was 250 Birr and grew to 300 then 400 Birr", she says.
Before ACORD's engagement with Iddirs many including the state, community and NGOs were skeptical of the role that Iddirs could play in development and Iddirs themselves were also concerned that their important traditional practices would be eroded. It has however been possible to separate the social function from developmental initiatives and realize their potential in community development. No longer will Iddirs face criticism for paying more attention to the dead rather than the living.