Ethiopia has a young democracy where democratic values are not yet nurtured among its citizens. Citizens do not claim and properly exercise their rights. At times they can also abuse the very meager rights they are granted. Authorities in government either abuse their power or fail to fulfill their obligations. The community on the other hand, is ill aware of the fundamental democratic principles and human rights. Coupled with high illiteracy rate, low awareness of the community on human and democratic rights, lack of access to information and knowledge at grass root level, high unemployment rate among the youth, and other fundamental obstacles to human and democratic rights of citizens prevail in the project area. Therefore, it is extremely important to promote and cultivate democratic values and principles of fundamental human and democratic rights among the communities of the project area. Radio programs with civic education messages will enhance citizens’ knowledge of democratic and human rights and empower them to exercise their entitlements for their betterment. The project targeted more than 500,000 community members in Sidama Regional State through local community radio programs which will be produced and aired in two languages; Sidamu Afo and Amharic. A total of 20 episodes on civic education topics such as the tenets of democracy and the importance of citizen participation in the electoral and governance processes will be broadcasted using panel discussions and spot messages to empower the community on the issue.
CoC plans to implement an interactive civic education program that focuses on promoting democratic principles and citizens participation in Sidama Regional State. The project is working towards increasing citizen participation in the democratization process as well as in the upcoming general election of Ethiopia. The improved capacity will thus enable citizens to participate and monitor performance of their county government for improved performance and delivery of services. Thus, this civic education project has designed to address the needs and constraints of targeted groups including to improve the low levels of knowledge on the democracy; improve low levels of citizen participation in governance and political processes; and increase participation for women, the youth, persons with disability and marginalized groups and communities in public engagement. The project is financially supported by the International Republican Institute (www.iri.org).