Supporting recovery and local governance in Somalia

Supporting recovery and local governance in Somalia
Fatima Jibril, founder of Somali Horn Relief International, speaking at the Global Open Day for Women and Peace 2010. (Credits: UNIFEM)

It is early morning and Amina[1] has another busy day ahead. The mother of two must get her children off to school and finish some housekeeping before she can attend to her small business, selling second-hand clothes and household supplies beside her corrugated-iron-roofed house.

In spite of her hectic schedule, Amina is heavily involved with her local community in Bossaso, northern Somalia. She always finds time to attend the Girible Village Committee, a body of 30 people, representing locals on governance and development issues.

Highlights

  • The programme supports regional institutions in Somalia, ensuring local governance contributes to fair delivery of services and stability in the country.
  • In 2010, activities were extended to cover 10 districts of Somalia. There are plans to expand it further, to include up to 98 districts in Puntland, Somaliland and south-central Somalia, next year.
  • In 2010, a total of 59 projects were implemented, reaching almost 1 million beneficiaries in Somaliland, Puntland and Mogadishu districts.
  • Community monitoring groups – a third of whose members are women – have been set up to monitor the implementation of these projects.
  • In 2010, for the first time in Somaliland, public meetings with communities have been recorded. An estimated 1,700 people have attended, of which at least 40 percent were women.

Her involvement reflects a change in the community. “In the past, women were not engaged in public work,” she explains. “We are now recognised as custodians and monitors of public projects carried out by the local council.”

Amina is one of 17 women on the committee, sponsored by the Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralized Service Delivery (JPLG). This five-year project is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and its UN partners.

The voice of public authorities in Somalia is feeble and scattered due to decades of civil unrest, factional violence, and severe disasters. The JPLG, funded by the European Commission, US Department for International Development and USAID among others, aims to support regional institutions in Somalia, to ensure that effective local governance contributes to fair delivery of services and, ultimately, peace.

The project provides training sessions and workshops to support local development, ensuring that local authorities are accountable and transparent, and the services they provide meet communities’ needs.

It also supports women to get involved in development, through public meetings, training, outreach and media campaigns.

When first launched in 2008, the JLPG covered four districts in Puntland and Somaliland. The success of these pilot initiatives led to the extension OF Its activities in 2010 to six further districts, including Galkayo and Gardo in Puntland, and Burao, Hargeisa, Odweine and Sheikh in Somaliland.

There are now plans to expand this work to include up to 98 districts in Puntland, Somaliland and south-central Somalia by next year.

Back in Bossaso, the Girible Village Committee holds regular meetings to discuss the local council’s performance in delivering services, such as transport. The committee also receives feedback from a community monitoring group, established to keep a check on its work.

“Civic education provided by the JPLG has given us plenty of knowledge of our rights and obligations. Personally, I am now able to critique, negotiate more effectively and provide alternative solutions to problems,” says Amina.

According to her, the project has led to “positive social change”, including greater gender equality.

“Here in Bossaso, men appreciate what we do. Women now can better articulate their rights and voluntarily participate in development activities.”

Sarah Ahmed Shire, who chairs another village committee’s community monitoring group, in Galkacyo district, says this work has helped raise her profile, and given her an opportunity to promote development alongside other women.

“As a woman I am trusted and listened to more,” she says. “I am engaged with other women in public service delivery.”

[1]The name is fictitious for privacy concerns.

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