Capacity building for governance in post-conflict Somalia

(From August/September Transitions Newsletter.)
With the support of an ERD funded specialist, UNDP Somalia has completed the design of a capacity building for governance programme covering the period June 2001 to June 2004. Somalia is one of the worst cases of state collapse and state failure in postcolonial Africa. Since 1991 Somali people and communities have struggled to survive without a central government. In 1993 a secessionist administration was set up in the Northwest ("Somaliland"). "Somaliland" has been pushing for independence from the rest of Somalia but its claim to independence has not received recognition from the international community. In 1998, a regional administration was set up in the Northeast ("Puntland"). "Puntland" claims that it is a "regional state" of a future federal Somalia. Unlike Somaliland, Puntland does not aspire to independence. In 2000 a transitional central government was set up in Mogadishu and has been recognized by the UN, OAU and IGAD. But this central government has limited control over the Somali territory. Even in the capital city of Mogadishu several militias control the city.

The strategy of international assistance to Somalia has been based on" the building blocs approach" in which assistance is channeled to areas that have succeeded in establishing peace and reconciliation and in which development activities can be carried out on a sustainable basis. Somalia communities that succeed in demobilization and disarming militias are rewarded with increased international assistance. This is the "peace dividend approach". Both the Northwest and the Northeast have succeeded in establishing peace and reconciliation. It is also in these two zones that the Somali communities and the emerging governing institutions have been receiving international assistance to build the capacity of governance institutions.

It is the assumption of the UNDP-Somalia Governance programme that in order to avert the emergence of a coercive and autocratic state in Somalia, capacity building assistance should be provided to the emerging authorities in areas of peace and stability to ensure that these authorities are grounded, or built, on democratic, decentralized, participatory and consultative foundations. It is for this reason that the project targets building the capacity of representative institutions to provide checks and balances to the executive. The project also seeks to promote the development of a vibrant civil society. Somali communities have achieved a lot on their own in the absence of institutions of the state. But there is a limit in providing for public goods if the public administration institutions are absent, or weak, as in the case of Somalia. One of the critical needs in Somalia is to build the capacity of public administration. This is one of the key components of the governance programme.

Effective representative institutions, an efficient public administration, a vibrant civil society and private sector are fundamental pillars of good governance. An effective public administration is unlikely to exist, if representative institutions are weak. Similarly, if there is no vibrant civil society, administrative responsiveness to the needs of the community is unlikely to evolve. Adequate information generation and exchange is a vital input in the performance of these governing institutions. The focus of the proposal is to build the capacity of four components of good governance: representative institutions, public administration, civil society, and information technology. It is also a key assumption of the governance programme that good inter-relations among key governance actors and components ensure consistency in the objectives and actions of each governance stakeholder. It is also imperative to promote gender, human rights, concern for poverty reduction, and conservation of the environment among the four components of capacity building for governance.

Ministries will be assisted to clarify their objectives and re-align their internal structures. Civil society organizations, especially umbrella NGOs, may improve their performance through more systematic planning and organization of their work. Similarly, representative bodies will be assisted to develop work plans and schedules. Need assessment for information technology will be carried out and gaps for action identified to guide technology development policy and programmes.

Over the next three years the Capacity Building for Governance Programme will need strong support from donors to provide up to US $12 millions in financial resources required to build capacity of Somali governing institutions and to ensure that Somalia does not slide back into costly internal conflict again.

Enquires and pledges of support may sent to James Katorobo,, UNDP Somalia, Centenary House, P.O. Box 28832, Nairobi, Kenya. Telephone: 254-2-448439; Fax: 254-2-448439.