Today is a sad day for me. I am very much looking forward to getting back to Amanda and to Brighton, but leaving Ethiopia is hard. I’ve had a great time. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve got to know some wonderful people, including friends and colleagues at the Embassy. I’m pleased with the work that I’ve done on accountabilities and aid, on social accountability, on peace and development, on gender and politics, on public sector capacity building, and on public financial management. Some of it might make a difference. But leaving is hard.
In the aftermath of the election in Ethiopia – elections that resulted in a landslide victory for the ruling EPRDF party – outsiders such as the UK Government or Human Rights Watch are being told, on the one hand, by the EPRDF, to keep their uninformed opinions to themselves, and, on the other, by the opposition parties, and no doubt by citizens in the developed world, to say what they think about the elections/electoral process.
Election day in Ethiopia seems like a good day to break my self-imposed ban on blogging about aid and politics and begin to share my reflections about the relationship between the two in Ethiopia.
With elections here tomorrow, what should a governance adviser do? Probably not take 3 days off to go travelling. However, with my time in Ethiopia drawing rapidly to a close, I was keen to see a bit more of the country beyond Addis. So, armed with my special pass which is needed in the election period for foreigners wanting to travel out of Addis, I set off.
My time in Addis is coming to an end. My replacement – Ahmed – has already started. Employing me was always only a temporary measure, which makes sense. I’ve had a great time. I’ve learned a lot and have been able to make a useful contribution to things (and I wasn’t 100% sure that I would), but Ahmed probably had a better understanding of Ethiopian politics and governance at the age of 12 than I do now, and that might be doing him a dis-service! There is a place for outsiders to share their perspectives and experience in relation to governance in developing countries (for me, for a while at least, that place is going to be the UK), but you can’t beat local knowledge.