The Centre will provide valuable data to help inform policy, programmes and development in the country.
On 6 December 2021, the European Union (EU) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) officially handed over the new Information Management Centre (IMC) to the Government of Somalia. The launch is part of ongoing joint efforts by FAO in conjunction with the Government to enhance technical and operational capacity to produce and provide water and land (WAL) information products and services that inform policy, planning and future development initiatives in the country.
The IMC is part of the European Union-funded Integrated Land and Water Resources Management (ILWRM) project, which focuses on establishing a centre in each of the two regions of Puntland and Somaliland. The Puntland Centre will generate regionally relevant data, information and knowledge to inform the sustainable development of WAL resources in each territory.
"This Centre will support the Government in management of land and water resources, and ultimately the people of Somalia as we are all the stewards of these assets for now and for the future," said His Excellency Mr Said Abdullahi Deni, the President of the Puntland State of Somalia. "We take pride in supporting the establishment of this Centre, and I envision to see it as a centre of excellence in providing state of the art services to develop the land and water resource base of Puntland. These efforts also require joining hands among the partners - EU, FAO and the Government - beyond the establishment done now," he said.
The handover ceremony, which took place in Garowe, was attended by His Excellency, the President of Puntland State of Somalia, Mr Said Abdullahi Deni, The Hon. State Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Abdirahman Aided Ibrahim, Representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture, Environment, Water, Livestock and HADMA, FAO Representative in Somalia, Mr Etienne Peterschmitt, and Information Management Centre Director, Mr Abdinur Jama.
Managing water and land resources in Somalia throughout the years
FAO established a secure platform for the management and development of Somalia's WAL resources managed through the Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM) project since 2002. Since then, FAO-SWALIM has become a flagship programme for Somalia, and for FAO globally, providing up-to-date information on the scope, extent, quality, and quantity of WAL resources across the country as a subset of natural resource management (NRM). Through its long-term programme of development cooperation with the Somali government, FAO-SWALIM has reached some notable achievements, underpinning the relevance of this project.
"We have provided material resources to strengthen and develop institutions, strengthen institutional capacity through transfer of information management tools, products and services to IMC from SWALIM and line ministries, or foster an inter-ministerial strategy for effective community engagement on IWRM, ensuring participation and awareness creation at the community level," said Ugo Leonardi, Technical Advisor SWALIM.
Partnerships and emphasis of government ownership
The Centre represents joint work with the Puntland government, and a new chapter in Somali leadership of its natural resources. The result of this joint work is the capacity within partner ministries to progressively assume responsibilities and uses the knowledge generated to design and implement activities. FAO will continue to provide technical support and capacity building to partner ministries to enable them to carry out relevant responsibilities, with FAO technical support tailored to the needs of the ministries concerning their mandates and capacity gaps. This reflects FAO's commitment to build such capacity in Somalia and the broader region and is a first step in the planned phased transition towards national ownership of the SWALIM programme.
"This Centre contributes to the FAO's regional initiative on building resilience in Africa's drylands. Indeed, it strengthens institutional capacity and decision-making support for Somalia's agriculture, livestock, fisheries and NRM sectors, and will thereby contribute to the strengthening of Somalia's agri-food systems into the future," said Etienne Peterschmitt, FAO Representative in Somalia. "FAO is privileged to have contributed to IMC establishment, nevertheless the sustainability of this nascent initiative requires continued efforts and synergy among the partners represented here," he added.
The ILWRM project is based on the premise that the long-term sustainability of project results can best be ensured when there is a stable and functioning state, with information and knowledge generation and management integrated into government-led services.
"(This) Project has effectively abridged both SWALIM and IMC/Government of Puntland in its three year journey. We at EU cherish this moment and recognize the underlying efforts of partners and further encourage the good work for the project's sustainability," said Dr. Hjordis D'Agostino Ogendo, Head of Resilience, Infrastructure and Productive sectors from the European Union in Somalia. She also commented that the Centre can play a very important role in contributing to areas where data and analysis are required such as food security, productive sectors by providing tailored evidence-base for informed decision-making for policy formulations, to strategic planning and to an effective implementation of projects.
In Puntland, FAO-SWALIM and its government ministry partners manage a wide range of information, communication and knowledge resources. A dedicated Information, Communication and Knowledge Management strategy was adopted to deepen the impact of the project and improve the capacities of partner institutions to effectively take over the project in the future.