Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals

2007 Recipients

Asefa Ashemgo Agago, Ethiopia
Humphrey Fellow (2001-02)

Asefa AgagoAsefa Ashengo Agago was a Humphrey Fellow at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs from 2001 to 2002. During his time as a Humphrey Fellow he interned with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Rehabilitation Services Branch. During his internship he studied the administrative process of providing services to Minnesotans with disabilities.

After his return to Ethiopia, he used his experience at the Humphrey Institute to initiate service development and delivery in diverse regions of Ethiopia. Mr. Asefa became the head of the Department of Rehabilitation where he managed the activities of the Elderly Affairs and Disability Affairs units. He coordinated and jointly prepared the National Plan of Action for rehabilitation of people with disabilities and the National Plan of Action of Ageing. He supervised a number of important research studies to better understand both the situation of disabled people in society and how prosthetic-orthopedic and physiotherapy services were provided.

Mr. Asefa also served as manager of the World Bank’s Federal Demobilization and Reintegration Project, where he coordinated the demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants who fought in the Ethio-Eritrian War. He built the performance capacities for prosthetic-orthopedic centers located in five regional states. and managed the development of the National Rehabilitation Center, which trains orthopedic technicians and physiotherapists at the degree level.

Currently Mr. Asefa is head of the Disability Affairs and Rehabilitation Affairs departments and manager of the Federal Demobilization and Reintegration Project in the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Mr. Asefa’s leadership and dedication have led to progress in his country despite the broad and daunting responsibilities in a country with limited resources for rehabilitation.

Recently Mr. Asefa was part of the team that drafted the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. The U.N. passed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was signed in March 2007 and adopted by Ethiopia, thanks to Mr. Asefa’s lobbying efforts.

In naming Mr. Asefa Ashengo Agago as a recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals, the selection committee cited his demonstrated leadership in the field of disability services both in Ethiopia and beyond. They cited from the nominator’s letter: “His multiple contributions have been wide-ranging and effective, and have extended significantly beyond boundaries of his own country. Asefa Ashengo Agago effectively combines vision, leadership, and action.”