Innovating Together in Somalia: Baidoa's Digital Drive for Better Public Services

In a collaborative effort to boost community participation and improve public services, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has joined forces with key stakeholders in Baidoa, Somalia.

December 31, 2023

UNDP organized a hands-on training session in Baidoa, introducing local officials to the tools powering "Fariin-Maal", Baidoa's new citizen engagement platform

UNDP Somalia

Partnering with the Ministry of Planning, Investment, and Economic Development  and the municipality of Baidoa, UNDP aims to establish a user-friendly digital platform encouraging citizens, officials, organizations, and stakeholders to actively contribute to the city's development.

Why It Matters for Baidoa

The core objective of this initiative is to empower the people of Baidoa, transforming them into active contributors to the shaping of their communities. Recognizing the importance of citizen engagement in enhancing daily life and fostering a sense of community ownership, this initiative seeks to make a tangible impact on the lives of everyday individuals.

Demystifying Citizen Engagement

At its heart, citizen engagement involves involving ordinary people in decisions that directly impact them. It's about promoting accountability, building stronger relationships, and aligning public services with the real needs and values of the community.  Encouraging active participation in decision-making and public services ensures that everyone's voice is heard, fostering a more inclusive and participatory governance model.

Significance for Somalia's Development

The move holds particular importance not only for Baidoa but also for other regions in Somalia, as it has the potential to accelerate city development and introduce digital services to enhance the quality of life for citizens. 

This initiative is part of the Saameynta UN Joint Programme, jointly implemented by UNDP, UN-Habitat, and IOM. Saameynta’s main aim is to reduce the number of people living in forced displacement by providing large-scale, durable solutions suited to urban environments in three Somali cities. 

Funded through the Somalia Joint Fund by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Government of the Netherlands, and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Saameynta Joint Programme supports the local economic development of IDPs and host communities to build community resilience, foster inclusive economic growth, and enhance livelihood opportunities for both IDPs and host communities.

Introducing "Fariin-Maal": a New Digital Platform

In early December, UNDP organized a hands-on training session in Baidoa, introducing local officials to the tools powering "Fariin-Maal" (meaning: message from the citizens), Baidoa's new citizen engagement platform. The platform offers features such as:

Debates: Share and discuss topics crucial to you and your community.

Proposals: Present ideas and projects with visual aids to convey your point effectively.

Voting: Express your preferences on projects or ideas you support the most.

Collaborative Legislation: Contribute to shaping the rules and regulations governing your community.

Participatory Budgeting: Have a say in allocating part of the city's budget to community projects.

The platform aims to ensure everyone in Baidoa can actively participate, whether online or offline. Contributions will be aligned with global standards, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and Baidoa's local development plans.

Local Officials Eager for Positive Change

Local officials actively participated in a four-day training session and are looking forward to the positive changes the platform could bring. Mr. Yaqub Isack Hussein, the Director General of MOPIED in the South West State of Somalia, conveyed gratitude for this initiative project and eagerly anticipated the launch of "Fariin-Maal" in Baidoa. Mr. Shuaib Nour, the local coordinator, emphasized the commitment of Baidoa's local government to the success of this project. According to Mayor Abullahi Watiin, "Fariin-Maal" is expected to translate Baidoa's plans into action and make public services more digital-friendly.

The training, conducted by UNDP Somalia's Saameynta project team and technical consultants from Enreda (Spain), is a significant stride toward a more connected and engaged Baidoa. 

Stay tuned for the positive impact of this transformative initiative on community involvement and public services in Baidoa. 

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