DDG’s Civic Engagement Project Heralds a New Hope in State Building in Southern Somalia

The Danish Demining Group with support from the European Union (EU) has been implementing a civic engagement in reconciliation and state formation project in Baidoa and Kismayu towns in south central Somalia. The project is part of EU’s wider stabilisation and state action agenda for Somalia and aims to advance inclusive political dialogue and settle relations between the Federal Government of Somalia and emerging administrations. It also aims to initiate processes of social reconciliation and trust among communities.
 
 

The project targets the state capitals of Baidoa, Kismayu and Jowhar/Beletwyne as well as the federal capital city of Mogadishu with the aim of broadening local participation in the ongoing state building and reconciliation process.

“We welcome this project and look forward to cooperating with DDG in the implementation of the project in Kismayo. This project is a first of its kind to be implemented in our town,” said Jama Ugas, Deputy Governor of Lower Region.

These sentiments were also echoed by the Deputy Minister of Interior for Jubaland who thanked the EU for funding the project and stated:

“Relief and emergency interventions in Somalia have been common in the country but they have not brought sustainable solutions to the problem apart from providing assistance to immediate needs of the community. In contrast, reconciling community groups in such a way that they live side by side in peace and harmony contributes towards cohesion among the communities which aligns to our top priority tasks ahead. We very much appreciate the EU for providing this funding,” said Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein during the launch of the project in Kismayu.

The project was officially launched in Baidoa and Kismayu on 23rd May 2016 and 16th June 2016 respectively. From the launch events which were attended by a cross section of local authorities and community members, a rallying theme was on offering a strong support for implementation of the project in their various localities and the timeliness of the project.

“On behalf of the Baidoa district administration, I will fully commit ourselves to the support of this project and would request that we be kept updated on the implementation process, as we want to play an active role to achieve tangible and concrete results in the end,” said Abdullahi Watin, Baidoa District Commissioner.

As a follow up to launching of the project, DDG held advocacy and consultation workshops with local authority officials and community group leaders in Kismayu and Baidoa. The consultative workshops have provided local partners with the platform to raise issues and fully understand about the project goals, implementation approach and key deliverables of the project. The participants shared their views on the reconciliation and state formation deliverables including organizing and supporting town level community structure and promoting community based conflict resolution through traditional structures such as the Guurti (traditional leaders).

“We are very happy with this project and we greatly support it because traditional leaders have a key role to prevent and mitigate violent conflicts and promote peaceful environment and harmony among the communities,” said Suldan Mohamed Ahmed Toxow, a well-known and prominent traditional elder from the minority clans in Kismayu.

“As per the traditional practices, leaders can greatly contribute to resolve violent conflicts through traditional conflict resolution mechanisms. Thereby, reinvigorating the xeer is a very crucial step to peace building in the community,” continued Suldan Mohamed.

The implementation approach of this project is modelled around ensuring inclusivity of all stakeholders – local authorities and community groups including those from minority groups an aspect that has been very much appreciated and contributing to ownership of the project by the community members and local authorities in the project locations.

“I was impressed by the mere fact that the minority groups were invited to this meeting since we have rarely been invited to such important consultation meetings. I am very grateful that the minority clans and even women in general have been invited to this meeting. I thank DDG and the EU for their efforts to promote a broader participation in decision making process for the good of the townspeople,” said 46 year old Shueb Ibrahim Muse who is a representative of the minority group.