A Closer Examination of Family Group Decision Making in
orphans.59 Although the extended family system represents a
culturally appropriate and productive form of kinship care, it is also
important to understand the legislative framework for orphaned
children in Ethiopia.
C. Civil society in Ethiopia
In light of Ethiopia’s resource-poor environment,
governmental attempts to provide for the large number of
unaccompanied children have failed, which has thus expanded the
role and importance of the extended family system.60 In Ethiopia,
formal civil society61 was slow to develop, as it was greatly impeded
during an adverse military regime in the twentieth century.62 It was
not until the 1930s that faith-based groups began to function as
modern civil society organizations, and not until the 1950s did larger
institutions, such as the Red Cross, launch a presence in Ethiopia.63
Furthermore, Ethiopia’s severe drought and famine in 1984 and 1985
is recognized as the “catalyst for the proliferation of institutional
care.”64 With the growing number of unaccompanied children,
59 Abebe, Ethiopian Childhoods, supra note 33, at 6.
60 Abebe & Aase, supra note 4, at 2059; see NGO LAW MONITOR: ETHIOPIA, supra
note 41, at 1 (describing Ethiopia’s long tradition of informal community-based
organizations due to the slow development of civil society and restrictive laws and
61 See MICHAEL BRATTON, CIVIL SOCIETY AND POLITICAL TRANSITION IN AFRICA 2
(1994), http://worlded.org/docs/Publications/idr/pdf/11-6.pdf (defining “civil
society” as a theoretical concept of “a sphere of social interaction between the
household and the state which is manifest in norms of community cooperation,
structures of voluntary association, and networks of public communication”).
62 NGO LAW MONITOR: ETHIOPIA, supra note 41, at 1. See generally Sandra
Fullerton Joireman, Opposition Politics and Ethnicity in Ethiopia: We Will All Go
Down Together, 35 J. MODERN AFR. STUD. 387 (1997) (explaining that
development and progress in Ethiopia were greatly inhibited during the centrist
policies of the Imperial regime and the communist Derg regime. Citizens were
prohibited from enjoying basic rights, liberties, and political expression. The Derg
was eventually overthrown in 1991 during the “second revolution” by the
Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)).
63 NGO LAW MONITOR: ETHIOPIA, supra note 41, at 1.
64 IMPROVING CARE OPTIONS FOR CHILDREN IN ETHIOPIA, supra note 6, at 24; NGO
LAW MONITOR: ETHIOPIA, supra note 41, at 1.