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In 2005 several individuals in Ethiopia came together to discuss how to address the challenge of more effectively meeting the needs of persons with disabilities in Ethiopia, and ensuring their access to mainstream service delivery as well as development programs. They decided to create a new type of Ethiopian organization, one that would promote and facilitate disability inclusion, but not by providing disability or rehabilitation services to individuals. They decided to create an organization that would reflect, in its structure and programs, certain core values: majority governance by persons with disabilities and family members, gender equality, and positive bias (affirmative action) in the employment of staff. Finally, rather than create a membership organization of persons with disabilities, they decided to create an association composed of prominent individuals, both professionals with and without disabilities, 50% women, reflecting different aspects of society.
Thus the Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development (ECDD) was born and registered with the Ministry of Justice in December 2005. Following the Charities and Societies Proclamation of 2009, ECDD was re-registered by the Charities and Societies Agency on 6 December 2012, as an Ethiopian Residents Charity, Registration No. 0321. By 2012 ECDD Association membership had grown to over 60 members and its staff had increased to 18 full-time employees, over half of whom are persons with disabilities.Today ECDD has a staff of 42 persons with branch offices in Mekele, Tigray Region and in Hawassa in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State, and Local Disability Advisors in Afar, Somali and Oromo Regional States.