An interdisciplinary conference on Religions and Development in Ethiopia concluded in Addis Ababa at the Golden Tulip Hotel from 20th –21st September 2018.
Research papers were presented focusing on Religion and Gender-Based Violence (SDG 5); Religion and Education for Development (SDG 4); as well as Faith Based orgnaisations (FBOs) and Community Organising (SDG 16). Panel discussion on religion and Ethiopia’s development vision further involved scholars from Universities of Gondar, Arba Minch, Addis Ababa, Addis Ababa Science and Technology and the Institute for Christianity and the Common Good (ICCG).
Session devoted to FBOs and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) presenting their work in relation to the SDGs, as well as questions emerging for religions in engaging with the SDGs was also discussed. The conference was concluded with a workshop on “Religions and the SDGs” for exploring and discussing the practical engagement with SDGs by Ethiopian FBOs and NGOs.
The experience of EGST was presented and discussed on the theme of Gender, Health and Theology interconnection in academia and community engagement by EGST Head of Development and Communications.
The conference organizers noted that development agencies and major funders in the West have begun to recognise the role of religions in their work and are now increasingly funding projects that include religious actors. This corresponds to growing research on religion and development, and a wider interest of religion in the public sphere. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) process has also laid a greater focus on the cultural and religious roots of development goals and practices, seeking to include local actors on a greater scale than before.
This interdisciplinary conference explored how this global interest in the intersection between religions and development relates to current debates and practices in Ethiopia. How do religious values and practices affect/shape development outcomes? How do Ethiopian religious actors engage with the international and national development agenda and what input do they seek to make? What is the contribution of faith-based organisations to the non-governmental development sector? How do religious identities influence how development organisations and clients interact? What specific challenges arise for the engagement of faith actors in the increasingly plural religious landscape of Ethiopia? How has the Sustainable Development Goal process influenced the involvement of religious actors?
The two-day conference brought together academics and practitioners to discuss the theme in various papers and workshop activities and created a platform to network.
The conference is part of the international research network dubbed as “Keeping Faith in 2030: Religions and the Sustainable Development Goals,” and convened by the University of Leeds and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. For more details see religions-and-development.leeds.ac.uk /research-network.
Prior to the conference on September 18, 2018 one of the organizers Dr Jörg Haustein, Senior lecturer from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London presented a seminar to EGST Community and invited guests. The theme of the seminar was on ‘Writing Religious History: Ethiopian Pentecostalism and the Politics of Historical Memory’, a field where the scholar has completed his PhD and published a book on the Ethiopian context.