Peacebuilding non-governmental organisations (NGOs) must build on the activities of indigenous institutions and local actors to be most effective, according to the research of Wondimu Mengistu, an Ethiopian PhD candidate at the University of Cape Town.
His thesis, Exploring the Peacebuilding Potential of Development NGOs in Areas of Protracted Conflicts in Ethiopia: with Special Reference to Oromia and Gambella Regional States, discusses how theories of indigenous empowerment - characteristic of recent conflict resolution literature - were utilised in his case study areas.
Mengistu's research responds to the Ethiopian Federal Government's proclamation pertaining to NGOs, which has somewhat restricted their role despite the limited capacity of the State's local agencies (the local administration and the local judicial system) to enable sustainable peacebuilding. He examines the potential of peacebuilding NGOs using an 'indigenous empowerment perspective' drawn from peace research and conflict resolution theory.
Since much analytical work on indigenous empowerment and 'peacebuilding from below' fails to engage with grounded case studies and remains abstract and untested, Mengistu's original contribution lies in his ability to both test the theory and present empirical data that nuances and enhances it.
Mengistu has a BA (Philosophy) from Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia) and a MA (Social Work) from Andhra University (India). His doctoral research was supervised by Dr Constance O'Brien in the Department of Social Development at UCT. Mengistu will graduate on 12 June 2014.
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