Danish Demining Group helps community to solve village conflict

Community dispute about leadership in the village is solved using traditional Somali conflict mediation techniques mixed with conflict mediation training provided by the Danish Demining Group's (DDG) District Safety Committee (DSC).


By: Jens Bjerg Sand

All societies have conflict and in consolidated states the mechanism for handling them, such as police and courts, are usually taken for granted. In Somaliland, decades of civil war and conflict means that the state’s mechanisms for this are either weak or non-present. In Qori-Dheere village, within Ainabo district in Somaliland, DDG’s District Safety Committee (DSC) assisted the village to revive and enhance their traditional conflict handling mechanisms, aimed at ending an ongoing conflict about village leadership.

The conflict was essentially about village leadership, starting after the previous leader died in 1997. All three claimants for the position of head elder had good arguments, and various sub-clans and authorities supported them in their claim. The DSC was specifically trained in conflict analysis and mediation. It identified all the actors and interests in the conflict and brought them together in a sequence designed to focus on common interests instead of differences. The women in the villages were, for example, interested in stopping the conflict, arguing that the row for titles did nothing to improve village prosperity or development. The women worked closely with the DSC to put pressure on their male relatives to stop the conflict and find a viable solution. Specifically, the conflict was an obstacle for certain NGO’s, such as the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), in implementing development projects in the village. This is in accordance with the Genève declaration on the link between security and development.

The mediation process was concluded with over 100 people participating. The meeting concluded with all present agreeing to a solution by consensus, as is the norm for traditional Somali agreements. This solution was viable because there was input from all sides with interest in the conflict, including villages, authorities and other actors.

“In Qoridheere, the DSC, who was trained by DDG, worked with elders, the local council and the villagers to solve the conflict. We are very proud that DDG’s training has helped the villagers to solve their own conflict and find a viable solution. Our training has facilitated a revival of the traditional Somali conflict mediation mechanisms in a new and modern, effective form", says Abdirahman Warsame, the DDG District Safety Coordinator for Somaliland.

DDG’s program for DSCs trains local authorities and elders (about 15 in each district) in extensive conflict analyzing and mediation, as well as conflict mediation and Mine Risk Education (MRE). The committees make district safety plans and help solve local conflicts: a sustainable solution, since the committee is a permanent structure to handle community conflicts.

The program has been so successful that the governor of Ainabo district has asked DDG to scale up its district safety program to be able to handler even larger (clan) conflicts. The program started in 2012 and in 2013 it was operational in five districts in Somaliland. In 2013, DDG’S District Safety and Community Safety programs reached over 60 000 Somalis in Somaliland alone. This includes MRE, firearm safety, conflict management education and the safe disposal of Explosive Remnants of War.

DDG’s mission is to recreate a safe environment where people can live without the threat of landmines, Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) and Small Arms and Light Weapons.