Southern and central Somalia has witnessed armed conflict since the collapse of Siad Barre’s government in 1991. Conflict has been sustained and fuelled by contests for economic and political control and inter-clan rivalries. A whole generation of Somalis have come of age without knowing a single year of peace.
In September 2012 the selection of a new parliament and election of a new president gave rise to hopes of increasing stability and peace in southern and central Somalia. With limited control over the country and significant capacity challenges, the new Federal Government has yet to make any significant steps in improving the security situation or rebuilding governance structures.
Some actors working on local level initiatives have begun to negotiate local-level governance structures to match, largely without the input of the Federal Government. A major challenge for the central authorities and the international community is that Al-Shabaab continues to control significant areas of territory as well as demonstrating its ability to carry out attacks, including suicide attacks, in key towns and cities under the control of the government, including in Mogadishu.
On a positive note, the new government’s appointment has revitalised international support for peacebuilding and state reconstruction. In May 2013 the UK and Somali governments will co-host a conference to discuss Somalia’s reconstruction. In September a conference in Brussels will seal a New Deal compact for Somalia to improve the coordination of and the support to peacebuilding and statebuilding initiatives in the country.
On another positive note, Somaliland in the northwest and Puntland in the northeast are continuing efforts to strengthen democracy in their respective areas. In November 2012 local elections were held in Somaliland; local elections will be held on 30 June 2013 in Puntland.
Listening to the people
In the absence of an effective government in Somalia/Somaliland, non-state actors (NSAs) play an important role in delivering services usually provided by the state. However, their voices are often not heard by policymakers.
With the support of the European Commission, Saferworld has been working in the region since 2004 to strengthen the participation and influence of Somali NSAs in key decision-making processes on peace, security and development. In 2008 we supported the formal creation of NSA platforms: Somaliland Non State Actors Forum (SONSAF), Somalia South-Central Non State Actors (SOSCENSA).
The platforms’ legitimacy stems from their inclusion of a wide range of geographical, clan and sectoral representatives, and their consultative approach to policy formation. They provide a two-way channel for communication between national and international policymakers and ordinary Somalis.
We support the platforms to actively engage in policy dialogue with Somali authorities and the international community on a range of issues but also to influence key policy and decision-making processes. We have supported SOSCENSA to make recommendations to the draft Somalia constitution and provided technical support to SONSAF to train domestic election observers.
In March and April 2013 SOSCENSA held consultations to discuss and make recommendations for the 7 May 2013 London conference on Somalia. Saferworld's summary can be accessed here.
In addition, Saferworld is supporting civil society oversight of democratic processes across the Somali regions. In November 2012, for the local council elections, SONSAF trained and deployed 677 domestic observers who observed 60% of polling stations. In addition, SCISEF – Somaliland Civil Society Election Forum - was established to provide a civil society-advocacy platform to raise issues of importance to constituent communities relating to the election, and to review electoral legislation and its compliance. In 2013, Saferworld will be supporting similar initiatives for the local and Parliamentary elections.
Conflict and Governance Mapping
Saferworld’s Conflict and Governance Mapping project aims to inform external actors working on conflict, peace building and governance issues in Somalia, with a series of regular, reliable reports, datasets, and visual aids (charts, maps, graphs). During the on-going design phase of the project we are establishing a model for gathering primary and secondary data in Mogadishu with a focus on security, power-brokers, access to resources/aid, and relevant geopolitical developments. At the end of this phase, our aim is to have developed a model, with four tangible outputs: a published analytical report; an interactive website; a ‘who’s who’ of key actors influencing events; and a database for primary and secondary data gathered in a household survey and separate mapping exercise.