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The Effects of New Housing Developments on Idir, a Self-Help Association in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


There have been many studies conducted on the topic of Idir - a self-help traditional association in Ethiopia that supports families financially, materially and emotionally in a time of bereavement. The origins have been debated and how it will evolve in the coming decades has been speculated. Many researchers have discussed Idir juxtaposed to urban development. However, researchers in the past have focused on the invention of Idir as a result of urban development, while this study focuses on the dissolution of Idir in the face of radical urban changes.

In Chapter One, I set the research in the framework of development studies because the project is constructed on the concept of building Idir into a grassroots development tool. In order to understand how this traditional association can become a cornerstone in development, in Chapter Two, I describe in detail how the association operates. This was done in an effort to show that Idir is no different from a western nonprofit. The more it can be constructed as an indigenous version of a western model, the easier it will be to incorporate it into future development goals. After setting up the context of the study and the focus of the study - Idir, I then tackle the external factor that is forcing the changes to take place - urban development - in Chapter Three. Addis Ababa is a city that is going through radical changes. For this study, I am focusing on one aspect of this change, which is the Integrated Housing Development Programme. This is because this is the aspect of urban development that is affecting the members of community Idirs citywide. Finally, in Chapter Four, I incorporate interviews I have conducted with members of the dissolved Idir, Hebreselam Idir, to show the effects these housing developments are having on the membership of Idir.

The results of the study were that indeed these community associations have continued to support city dwellers even though these new housing developments have scattered the membership across the city. However, Addis Ababa inhabitants are continuing to gain support from such associations by joining a new Idir in their new neighborhood. Thus, the research proved it will be difficult to advance Idir into activities beyond bereavement support at the moment as the social cohesiveness that was built over time was lost instantaneously.

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