Revival of local government office brings hope and jobs to Somali community

  • March 19, 2024

  • Mogadishu, Somalia


The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) aims to work in the last mile of many of the least developed countries (LDCs) in the world. This also includes countries that are experiencing political instability, like Somalia.

Before Somalia's protracted civil war, a local government office built in 1970 was severely damaged. Like many local government offices, the Kaaran Local Government building was built to better serve the area's residents. Local governments cater to local needs, which other branches of government might overlook.

Kaaran district is located in the Benadir region in the country’s capital, Mogadishu. It is one of the oldest districts in the country. Benadir is the smallest administrative region in Somalia but has the largest population, estimated at 1,650,227 (including 369,288 internally displaced persons) in 2014. The region has the highest percentage of residents who are internally displaced among the regions of Somalia because of its relative safety, economic opportunities, and resource availability.

The office was left a shell of what it originally was. The building could accommodate only two departments run by merely 16 staff. In 2023, the Joint Programme for Local Government Service Delivery, with the support of UNCDF, the local community, and the Benadir Regional Administration (BRA), came together to rebuild the office block.

Through the Local Development Fund, the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) invested US$ 355,478.09, catalyzing US$ 177,739.05 from the Bendir Administration to rebuild the Office block.

The BRA Governor and Mayor of Mogadishu, Yousuf Hussien Jimale, explained: "The reconstruction of Kaaran Local Government Office reflects our dedication to rebuilding infrastructure and the core of our local governance. It is a significant step in improving our residents' services and fostering local revenue."

After the completion of the project, the building is now able to host seven different departments run by 77 people in total. The government was able to employ more women with the newly available capacity of the building.

"The increased representation of women in the workforce at Kaaran Local Government Office is not just a numerical achievement; it signifies a commitment to fostering diversity and inclusivity in decision-making processes, strengthening the fabric of our local governance," said Mrs. Jawahir Barqab, Women Chair of BRA.

A noteworthy achievement of this reconstruction effort is the increased participation of women in governance. The workforce's gender representation rose from a mere 2% to a commendable 35%, demonstrating a commitment to inclusivity and diversity. Women are now actively involved in decision-making, contributing diverse perspectives to local governance.

"The expanded departments in the Kaaran Local Government Office signal a positive shift towards comprehensive local planning. This project enables us to strategize better and address the evolving needs of our community, fostering more planning, inclusivity, and participation processes," said BRA Planning Director Mr. Abdikadir Dalha.

The expansion was beneficial not only for the local government but also created 61 new job opportunities. The newly renovated building considerably improved local services as a whole for the local community and people with local interests. The planning office now supports strategic development initiatives. The revenue office ensures sound financial governance, while the civil registration office has enabled more citizens to be documented. This transformation also brought about tangible economic benefits.

The Mayor of Kaaran concurs: "Our contribution to the Kaaran project underscores our commitment to collaborative governance. By investing in the reconstruction of local institutions, we empower communities to drive their own development agendas, creating a foundation for lasting prosperity."

An intrinsic component for successful local development is ensuring local governments are empowered to convey their needs and cater to residents' needs that might differ from those of other communities. Local development is crucial for accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially in LDCs.

The Kaaran Local Government office project is an example of how local governance can gain great support through change, which is not necessarily an overhaul but an improvement of existing infrastructure. These improvements build upon existing establishments to reduce financing of completely new projects while allowing residents to benefit throughout the processes.

Elder Hussein Jilacow, Community Development Advocate, said: "Creating new job opportunities through the Kaaran reconstruction has brought tangible benefits to our community. It's more than just economic progress; it's a step towards self-sufficiency and improved livelihoods for everyone in Kaaran."

Effective partnerships with local say involved, the center's revival occurred and became a symbol of resilience. It is a testament to the community's ability to overcome challenges, rebuild, and create a foundation for a more inclusive future. Beyond the drastic physical improvements, the Kaaran Local Government Office has become a hub for realizing community dreams. Now, it is not just a workplace but symbolizes community development and resilience. It is a beacon of hope and progress for the Banadir region community in times of instability. It is a cornerstone of local development, reflecting the transformative power of collaborative action and the essential need for representation.

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) is the United Nations' flagship catalytic financing entity for the world's 45 least developed countries (LDCs). With its unique capital mandate and focus on the LDCs, UNCDF works to invest and catalyze capital to support these countries in achieving the sustainable growth and inclusiveness envisioned by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Doha Programme of Action for the least developed countries, 2022–2031.

UNCDF builds partnerships with other UN organizations, as well as private and public sector actors, to achieve greater impact in development. It does this specifically by unlocking additional resources and strengthening financing mechanisms and systems contributing to transformation pathways, focusing on such development themes as green economy, digitalization, urbanization, inclusive economies, gender equality, and women's economic empowerment.

A hybrid development finance institution and development agency, UNCDF uses a combination of capital instruments (deployment, financial and business advisory and catalyzation) and development instruments (technical assistance, capacity development, policy advice, advocacy, thought leadership, and market analysis and scoping), which are applied across five priority areas (inclusive digital economies, local transformative finance, women's economic empowerment, climate, energy, and biodiversity finance, and sustainable food systems finance).