Similar to many government institutions, Ethiopian Institute of Ombudsman (EIO) was forced due to COVID 19 to institute remote working of the EIO staff members. However, given the nature of the EIO current working modality, some staff who have been critical to making sure that there is business continuity are obliged to come in direct physical contact with complainants. Currently, EIO does not have a telecommuting capacity in place. But there was concern that working remotely made it hard to ensure that the organization remains fully operational and able to maintain business continuity during this exceptional period.
“We tried to maintain our core activities through certain critical staff, but it has become more difficult”, said Dr Endale Haile EIO’s Chief Ombudsman.
Dr Endale said, “By being flexible to address these challenges with technical assistance and advice and shifting resources for new innovative ideas, UNDP has demonstrated its longstanding commitment to EIO. With new support, EIO is in the process of setting up a digitalized call centre to receive complaints of maladministration and a data centre equipped with the latest technology for case- flow management.”
Before COVID 19, EIO received and managed at an average, per month new350 complainants at its head office but currently, it only receives as an average 50 cases per month since the first case of COVID-19i was reported. Many complainants are not coming to the office and those that do come to the EIO offices have difficulty in getting the required support from EIO staff as many of them are not physically present in the office.
This new digitization intervention is expected to increase the case reported and EIO’s case management efficiency and transform the business process not only during at this time of crisis but for the future.
The partnership between UNDP Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Institution of Ombudsman dates back to 2006 when the Democratic Institutions Program (DIP) was launched. Since then, the partnership has grown ever stronger with the advent of the multi-donor five-year Democratic and Governance Participation Program (GDPP) in 2017.
The current partnership covers building EIO’s capacity through technical training, system development; development of instruments for business processes and providing the opportunity for exposure visits and study tours to share experiences and learn from other countries.
“As one of the youngest democratic institutions, EIO faces challenges with establishing itself as a key independent government body, lack of awareness of the public at large on good governance in general and about the mandates of EIO in particular; lack of automated service delivery system and necessary budget to work”, Dr Endale said.
The partnership with UNDP has been critical to the success of the EIO Dr Endale added, as with UNDP support EIO has so far been able to set up the head and branch offices with the provision of office equipment; support efforts to enhance capacity, including training considerable numbers of EIO staff from all directorates; placement of critical technical staff to fill specific capacity gaps; and development of manuals and guidelines for complaint case handling management and administrative procedures.
As a result of these interventions, the EIO has succeeded in delivering its mandate and expanding its services to the public, expanding in almost all regions and City Administrations in the country. Therefore, it is possible to say that the EIO UNDP partnership could be considered as a cornerstone for the enhancement of good governance and quality service delivery system in the country.
“EIO has a strong interest to strengthen the partnership with UNDP particularly expanding IT-based transformation interventions to branch offices. There is huge potential for UNDP support to make demonstrable and impactful improvements in the delivery of services to the citizens of Ethiopia.”
Read more about the Democratic and Governance Participation Program (GDPP)