NGOs in conflict prevention: experiences from the water sector in Ethiopia

While development cooperation can cause or exacerbate conflicts, withholding aid is not the solution. The issue is how to provide aid in a manner that prevents conflict, so as to achieve sustainable peace. This Practical Note examines how NGOs have prevented and managed conflicts arising from water projects in Ethiopia. The legal framework and institutional settings in that country leave little room for manoeuvre for NGOs, so their scope for adopting a conflict-preventive approach lies mainly in being more sensitive and being non-confrontational yet firm in their style of communication. Different funding conditions, and a more conducive legal framework, are fundamental to increasing NGOs’ effectiveness in preventing conflict.