Three decades of violent conflict in Somalia have eroded institutional structures and severely strained the economy of this traditionally pastoral society. Severe drought, clan disputes, corruption and al-Shabaab attacks all impact people’s feelings of security, access to justice, jobs, healthcare, food and nutrition.
However there are reasons for hope. In February 2017, Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo was elected as president in a more inclusive process than in recent years. Work towards one-person-one-vote elections must begin right away, but the transition towards democracy in Somalia will be gradual.
Somaliland – despite ongoing drought – remains comparatively peaceful as it prepares for presidential and parliamentary elections, now scheduled for 2017 and 2019 respectively after controversial delays.
Due to the severe deficiencies in governance in both Somalia and Somaliland, Saferworld is playing a significant role in supporting democratisation and improving governance. Together with civil society organisations (CSOs) which are crucial in providing services that are usually the responsibility of the state, we build better relations between the government and Somali citizens. Saferworld aims to strengthen the participation and influence of these CSOs in important policy and decision-making processes on peace, security and development. We have helped to establish and develop non-state actor platforms in Somaliland (SONSAF), Puntland (PUNSAA) and South Central Somalia (SOCSENSA). These platforms offer a two-way channel for Somali people to connect and communicate with national and international policymakers – important for inclusive governance as citizens' voices are rarely heard by policymakers. The platforms’ legitimacy stems from the inclusion of a diverse range of participants from many different sectors of society, and a consultative approach to policy-making.
Saferworld supports civil society organisations in overseeing democratic processes across Somalia and Somaliland. For example, in the lead-up to the forthcoming Somaliland presidential and parliamentary elections, Saferworld is supporting voter education on the voter registration process, assisting Parliament in the amendment of the House of Representatives election legislation, building the capacity of the three political parties that will contest the election, and training and deploying 500 election observers.
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