Support Dialogue Forum on Decentralisation in Interim South West State Administration (ISWA)

Participants at the ISWA Forum. Credit: UN Photo.

Participants at the ISWA Forum. Credit: UN Photo.

The Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs and the Interim South West Administration’s (ISWA) Ministry of Interior and Local Government, co-facilitated a Decentralization Dialogue Forum, supported by JPLG in September 2015 in Baidoa, the capital of Interim South West Administration.

In 2012, the Transitional Federal Constitution of Somalia adopted the federalism principle that devolves authority to Federal Member State Governments and Districts in a regulated manner.

Decentralization defines the most appropriate balance of shared responsibilities, among the Federal Government, State Sector Ministries and District Governments, to enhance accountable and effective service delivery. It involves a series of policy reforms that allow specific responsibilities and resources to be transferred from the Federal Government of Somalia through the Federal Member State to implementation of basic services by a District Government in line with the Transitional Federal Constitution of Somalia (2012).  

In 2015, JPLG/UNDP is supporting Federal State Governments of Jubbaland and the Interim South West Administration, to establish institutions with sufficient capacity, so that core functions are developed, that facilitate decentralization and improved delivery of services to citizens. A significant component of the JPLG/UNDP strategy for strengthened local governance under the Interim South West Administration includes a series of Dialogue Forums on Decentralized Service delivery. This forum is the first in a number of such forums.

In order for decentralization to be successful, an effective working relationship between ISWA ministries, federal offices and district administrations needs to be established. This involves the building of consensus and incremental trust, before a legal framework to facilitate the decentralization process is put in place. The two day Dialogue Forum sought to create understanding among representatives from the newly formed ISWA ministries on the process of decentralization – outlining the need for harmonized horizontal and vertical relations and the sharing of roles and responsibilities between federal offices, state offices and local government to create the foundations for improved service delivery by local government.

The ISWA Minister of Interior, Abdirahman Ibrahim Satte, opened the Dialogue Forum and acknowledged support from JPLG/UNDP and the Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs.  “Participants have to discuss decentralization and understand the issue and apply their knowledge to their day to day activities,” Minister Satte said.

Participants included representatives from six of the newly formed ISWA Ministries (including Interior, Finance, Water, Minerals, and Transport), Bay Regional Administration, Baidoa District Administration and youth from a local civil society organization. The Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs facilitated the Dialogue Forum.

The JPLG/UNDP Senior Local Government Planning Consultant from the Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs, Abdulrahman Aligab Abdi, facilitated the group work session ‘The Role of ISWA Ministries and Offices to the Decentralization Process.’ Participants were encouraged to reflect and discuss the role of ISWA ministries as well as federal offices and the facilitator assisted the participants to identify roles and responsibilities between the stakeholders that would facilitate the decentralization process.

The presentation and subsequent discussion on ‘Decentralization: Challenges and Opportunities’, was facilitated by the JPLG/UNDP Decentralization Consultant, Gulaid Ahmed Hassan, from the Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs. The session covered decentralization challenges including structural conflicts, capacity constraints, political interest, corruption, patronage politics and exclusion of vulnerable groups. During the group discussion, participants were also able to identify that decentralization provides significant opportunities for improved governance. As Gulaid Ahmed Hassan said “Decentralization encourages improved institutional strength, empowerment, participation, improvement in service delivery (including primary health care, education, water, sanitation, access to roads, street lighting, market infrastructure, extension of livestock/agriculture), allocative efficiency, greater voice and choice for the locals, representative elected bodies, inclusive decision making, utilizing local knowledge/resource and relief from federal offices.”

The Bay Governor mentioned that after the civil war there was a loss of trust in central government. He said that discussions on how to proceed to the next level of cooperation between the federal government ministries, state government ministries, and local governments in a harmonized way was helpful and presented a unique opportunity to transform governance. He encouraged participants to actively contribute their thoughts and perspectives on the decentralization process.

With the generous support of the EU, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and UK, JPLG works closely with local counterparts in promoting improvements in the ability of local governments to provide equitable services to communities. The Dialogue Forum helped to establish foundations for mutual cooperation between ISWA ministries and federal offices and district administrations.  Further Dialogue Forums are planned to continue to facilitate the perspectives of citizens on decentralized service delivery throughout ISWA districts.

The Dialogue Forum was reported on many Somali media sites including Radio, and  A Dialogue Forum Report aired on Somali National TV, the principal public service broadcaster.

Young Graduates support Capacity Development of Local Government

Abdirahman Dahir Abdi, Young Graduate, Garowe, Puntland. Credit: UN Photo.

Abdirahman Dahir Abdi, Young Graduate, Garowe, Puntland. Credit: UN Photo.

Over 70% of Somalia’s population is under the age of thirty, however, the unemployment rate for youth in Somalia is 67% — one of the highest in the world*. In Puntland, university graduates face limited job opportunities – and despite seeking practical work experience related to their field of study, are often overlooked for positions, in favour of older and more experienced candidates. The 2012 UNDP Human Development Report noted that over 60% of Somali youth have the intention to leave the country in search of better prospects.

To address this critical problem, a Young Graduate Program was developed in 2014, supported by JPLG/UNDP with the Ministries’ of Interior and Local Government Associations in Puntland. The Young Graduate Program aligns the institutional resources and capacity needs of the Ministries’ of Interior and Local Governments with the skills of new Young Graduates. The recruitment of these Graduates is done through a transparent and merit-based recruitment process, with all Young Graduate applicants subject to the same procedures.

In Puntland, there are 25 Young Graduates (including 7 women) placed in the 7 target districts.

Each Young Graduate has a workplan, in line with the Local Government priorities, the JPLG annual work plan and the capacity needs assessment of the institution they are attached to. The first year is focused on training where they are mentored and supervised, nurturing their growth and giving them a chance to acquire valuable work experience.

Young Graduates receive a monthly stipend through JPLG/UNDP. After a year, Young Graduates who receive a successful performance review are given the opportunity to apply for a “permanent staff” position in line with a transparent merit based recruitment process and as long as the district budget is sufficient.

In Puntland (August 2015), the Ministry of Interior, supported by JPLG/UNDP convened an induction training for the first Young Graduates. The purpose was to improve basic understanding on the roles and responsibilities of local government and increase understanding on how the Program links to the Puntland Government’s decentralization vision and decentralized service delivery. The training ensures efficient integration of Young Graduates into local government departments so they are able to contribute to improved service delivery from the early stages of their employment.

Shukri, a young woman in the programme, is 25 years old from Eyl district. She has a degree in Public Administration/Management. She saw the advert for the Young Graduates Program posted on the internet and advertised in public places. She has always been interested in government and politics from her school days and is keen to learn more. She also wants to work for the people of Puntland – and use her degree to develop her leadership skills and gain more management experience. Her friends are impressed that she has a good career ahead of her. She is excited about working on local service delivery as she feels that people living in rural towns deserve services - and it will be good for them to be a part of a participatory process that delivers more effective transparent and accountable governance. She also hopes the government understand that the youth want to participate in and contribute to their society, but they need the experience and the jobs –and more opportunities like the Young Graduate Program.

Faduma, is 29 years old and from Bosasso. She attended university in Garowe and obtained a degree in Information Technology.  She saw the Young Graduates Program advertised in a newspaper. She decided to apply as she was keen to learn more about local government – and pass on her knowledge acquired during her studies - to her contemporaries. She is looking forward to working for local government which has objectives and goals. From what she has learned, she believes that decentralized service delivery to districts is a good idea and will benefit all citizens of Puntland. She is happy to get this very valuable work experience. Faduma’s friends are immensely proud of her achievement.

Abdirahman is 21 years old and from Gardo. He went to university in Garowe and has a degree in Computer Science. A friend told him about the Young Graduate Program and he decided to apply. He wants to use what he has learned through his studies, to contribute to his community – and make use of his communication and team building skills. He also hopes to learn more about local government. He hopes that in the future the government will come up with projects for young people so donors are not left to implement them. He hopes that the government will take matters into their own hands and work to provide services and work to improve the lives of people in Puntland.

Abdirahman Mohamoud is 26 year s old and from Galkayo. He has a Masters in Administration and Finance. He saw an advert for the Young Graduate Program in the Puntland Post. He wants to use his skills, especially in financial reporting and proposal writing, to contribute to the development of the people, especially in his district.  He wants to acquire more knowledge – not just in his field but related to governance and hopes to build relationships with stakeholders in his district and learn about their functions and how he can work with them to improve lives.

In 2014, the State Government of Puntland approved legislation passed by both the Parliaments’ and Presidents’ endorsing a Decentralization Policy . This provides the political, administrative and financial scope to decentralize service delivery, to districts with sufficient capacity, in prioritized sectors which are health, education, water and sanitation and roads.

Support to the evolving process of decentralization in Puntland has been provided through the UN Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralized Services (JPLG). Through a Local Government Young Graduate Program in selected districts the Ministries of Interior and Local Governments, supported by JPLG/UNDP, is working to develop and safeguard human resources capacity, strengthen institutional capacity and further promote gender equity at the local level.

With the generous support of the EU, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the UK, JPLG works closely with local counterparts in promoting improvements in the ability of local governments to provide equitable services to communities. In 2016, JPLG continues to strengthen district capacity in support of improved public service delivery to citizens. JPLG/UNDP support to the State Government of Puntland helps create policies, regulations, manuals and guidelines which contribute to strengthening capacity and which are relevant to all districts. The momentum towards improved systems and processes is encouraging the rehabilitation of vital community infrastructure, creating economic opportunity and strengthening livelihoods.


* According to the 2012 UNDP Somalia Human Development Report

Creating Real Solutions for Communities through District Planning and Improved Basic Services

Gacanlibax Cloth Market, Gardo. Credit: UN Photo.

Gacanlibax Cloth Market, Gardo. Credit: UN Photo.

Gardo district’s economy is largely based on pastoralism and small business, similar to many districts throughout Puntland – and an estimated 80 per cent of Gardo district’s 85,000 people lives below the poverty line. In 2010, the Gardo District Council and Administration were looking for ways to boost the economy and improve the lives of their residents. With the support of the UN Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralized Service Delivery (JPLG), UNDP worked with the District Council and Administration to develop a District Development Framework. This District Development Framework defines investments and projects necessary to move the district towards its development vision.

As part of JPLG with UN-Habitat, UNICEF, UNCDF and ILO, UNDP helps address fundamental challenges faced by local governments and builds their capacity to deliver public services effectively. By strengthening the local government to provide basic services, JPLG/UNDP supports sustainable and effective development. The key initiatives identified by the District Council and Administration included improving the local market, building new roads to boost business, and bringing safe healthcare to the area.

The District Development Framework identified that the Gardo population wanted modern and clean markets, to boost business and the local economy.  Markets also stimulate social interaction and facilitate connections between people helping to create cohesion, unity and stability.

“In the past, there were many times when we had to evacuate our market due to flooding, even when there was just a small amount of rain,” said one woman with a stall in the local market. “We use to lose two thousand dollars a year in business because the market was flooded. After the rehabilitation of the market, we do our business in a convenient, clean and dry environment.”

Improved road networks and transport links encourage business growth – by increasing access for buyers as well as allowing more and better products into local markets. The Gardo road network was extremely poor and consultations with communities to produce the District Development Framework identified an urgent need to improve roads within the district.To address this issue, UNDP/JPLG supported the construction of Shimbirale concrete road and Gacan Libaax tarmac road in Gardo.  Further, the Puntland Highway Authority, implemented a major upgrade and repair project on the main road linking Gardo with Bosasso. The construction and rehabilitation of this road is improving human safety and security and improving transport routes and trade.

One local shop owner, Halim Ali, saw improvements in his business. “Since the construction of the Gacan Libaax tarmac road, business in the area has improved – and transport,” he said. “Previously my little shop was small but as you see today it has grown.”

“This newly constructed road has improved the movement of people in Gardo,” said a local taxi driver. “We no longer get stuck in the mud on the Shimbirale road. We extend our gratitude and appreciation to Gardo local government and the Puntland Government.”

In 2013, JPLG provided support to the District Council and Administration on effective resource forecasting and budgeting through training on Public Expenditure Management which is designed to standardize training in the functions of (i) planning(ii) budgeting (iii) financial management (iv) implementation, and (v) monitoring and evaluation.  This facilitates the District Council and Administration to draw up an annual WorkPlan and Budget and lays the groundwork for the effective implementation of projects.

This systemized planning has contributed to streamlined investment into the area, from the Puntland Government, District Government, Diaspora, NGOs, United Nations and other organizations and promotes the delivery of basic services in a transparent and accountable manner.

JPLG has also supported the sensitization of Gardo local government officers on gender, including a participatory Integrated Community Development training. Over time, this has led to a subsequent change in attitude towards women’s participation in Gardo district affairs, with four women District Councilors’ out of twenty seven members.  Within the District Administration, three women head up a Departmental Unit. There has also been a significant increase in the selection of women as Village Leaders, seven of eight of Gardo’s villages are now headed by women.

Improved planning systems and processes strengthen the local government and their ability to deliver services while simultaneously increasing the participation of community leaders, village leaders, marginal groups, business people and civil society organizations leading to increased accountability and the building of incremental trust between citizens and local government.

With the generous support of the European Commission, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and UK, JPLG works closely with local counterparts in promoting improvements in the ability of local governments to provide equitable services to communities. In 2016, JPLG continues to strengthen district capacity in support of improved public service delivery to citizens in seven districts in Puntland - Gardo, Bosaso, Eyl, Jariiban, Banderbeyla, Garowe, Galkayo. JPLG/UNDP support to the Puntland government helps them create policies, regulations, manuals and guidelines. The momentum towards improved systems and processes is encouraging the rehabilitation of vital community infrastructure, creating economic opportunity and employment for young people as skilled labourers.