Grievance Redressing Mechanism

Implementation of the Ethiopian REDD+ process may create some potential conflicts. This guideline has identified a range of actual and potential disputes and conflicts that may generate risks in the process of implementing REDD+ programs at different level in the country. It is prepared with the assumption to give guidance and obligate implementers in strengthening and effecting conflict resolution mechanisms in order to achieve REDD+ objectives in Ethiopia.

The term grievance refers to “an issue, concern, problem, or claim (perceived or actual) that an individual, a community or any other party that has stakes to be addressed and resolved”. While developing Grievance Redress guideline the existing grievance mechanisms and their effectiveness were analyzed.  A grievance redress guideline showed the process for receiving and facilitating resolution of queries and grievances from affected communities or stakeholders engaged in REDD+ activities, policies or programs at community, woreda, zonal, regional, national  or international level. Typically, this guideline focus on solving conflict by participating all concerned stakeholders and enhance greater trust and accountability with program stakeholders. Furthermore information on conflict or feedback can be used to improve program performance. Potential type of grievances that would occur during the implementation of REDD+  programs are:

  • Harm to forest resources and associated lands (including loss of rights or access to lands, territories and resources, expropriation, displacement, lack of recognition of rights-holders, failing to respect obligations related to free, prior, and informed consent);
  • Harm to forest-dependent communities (including unfair distribution of financial and other benefits);
  • Environmental harm (including loss of biodiversity, conversion of natural forests to plantations, and failure to reduce emissions);
  • Harm to just processes (lack of full and effective participation in decision-making, failure to consider and minimize adverse social and environmental impact and failure to respect communities rights of free, prior and informed consent);
  • Lack of an adequate national legal and institutional framework to protect rights, livelihoods, and ecosystems; and
  • Misappropriation /abuse of funds

Traditional grievance redress mechanisms and processes exist throughout Ethiopia.  For instance in Oromia, SNNPRS, Afar, Somali and Gambella Regional States there exist strong traditions of informal grievance redress mechanisms that are accepted by all parties involved in the conflict.

Kebele Administrations (KAs) are the smallest units of administrations established in all regions of the country. Within the Kebele Administration, there are social courts that serve as  legal instruments in redressing grievances at grassroot levels. Shengo is a judicial committee that oversees conflicts with the power to impose decisions ranging from fines to imprisonments. Grievances related to natural resource management are reported to the relevant government office through the KAs after decisions are made by Shengo.

Formal state judiciary system that may be viewed as external to the parties involved in the grievance. The modern court established at Woreda level accomplishes the issues of grievances  arising in the community. This court handles both civil and criminal cases. The decision made at Woreda court abides to the parties involved in grieves with their rights reserved to take to the case into the next higher level court through appeal. The Woreda court mostly settles grievance cases related to natural resource management and use. Apart from Woreda, formal courts also exist at zone, region and federal levels.


Ombudsman office help redressal of grievance through powers vested on it to: supervise administrative directives issued and decisions given by executive organs and the practices thereof so that they do not contravene the constitutional rights of citizens; receive and investigate complaints in respect of maladministration.

Ethiopian Human Rights Commission also plays a role in the grievance redressing process. It investigates issues relating to violations of fundamental human rights excluding the great majority of complaints related to mal-administrations. Institutional arrangement for grievance redress mechanism for different level is prepared.

Following the full commencement of carbon markets in the country, the number and complexity of disputes is expected to rise. Ensuring the existence of appropriate institutions, policies and processes with a capacity to effectively manage conflicts in an efficient, timely and ethical manner to buyers is important for the success and sustainability of REDD+ in Ethiopia.


Principles for Effective Grievance Redressing Mechanism


A primary objective of a Grievance Redressing Mechanism for REDD+ is to avoid adverse impacts of REDD-related decisions and actions taken at the national, regional and project/community level. This mechanism should be capable of effectively addressing national and international obligations that apply to the design, implementation and monitoring of REDD+ program and projects. An effective Grievance Mechanism should also have the authority to consider procedural violations at every level of decision-making –national, regional and community – that could contribute to address impacts of REDD+ implementation.

There are formal and informal grievance redressing mechanisms in Ethiopia. However, there are vivid limitations in some instances with regard to integration of the formal grievance redressing mechanisms with the informal grievance systems and putting holistic enforcement approaches in place.  This is specifically true in the areas of addressing REDD+ related grievances in the country.  Lack of strong synergy between the formal and informal grievance redressing bodies, awareness limitations  of both executing and implementing bodies , skill gaps on how to integrate, internalize and effectively enforce from national up to community level and resource limitation to conduct awareness creation,  are the major causes for the prevalence of the limitations.

The 2008 Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises (hereinafter Ruggie’s Report) describes six principles for non-judicial grievance mechanisms:

  • legitimacy,
  • accessibility,
  • predictability,
  • equitability,
  • rights-compatibility and
  • transparency
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