Somalia: building peace and the state through Local Governments

  • January 09, 2012

  • Mogadishu, Somalia

The Transitional Government on Life Support, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, analyses structural flaws that hinder peace-building in central and south Somalia. At the core of the governance crisis is a deeply-flawed centralising state model.

The logical alternative is a more decentralised system of governance in which most power and resources are devolved to local administrations, while the federal government takes a modest role of primarily coordinating the activities of those administrations”, says Rashid Abdi, Crisis Group’s Analyst.

The report says the Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) needs to be reformed. Somalis should constitute an inclusive consultative forum to amend the transitional charter, deliberate on the constitution and agree on reform of the transitional federal institutions for the period after August, when the TFG’s mandate expires.

The forum’s focus should be solely on governance, in particular the relationship between local administrations and the national government in Mogadishu, the structure of that national government and the division of power within it.

The international community also has a key role to play. Focus should be given by the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) and donors on assistance, including capacity building, directly to emerging local administrations. Efforts are needed to improve revenue collection and management, fight corruption, increase budgetary transparency and strengthen internal auditing capabilities.

The report emphasizes very strongly the potential of Local Governments for peace and state building in Somalia, making reference to the successes of the UN Joint Programme on Decentralized Service Delivery and Local Governance (JPLG).

UNCDF latest contribution to the JPLG has been the design and launch of the Local Development Funds in Somaliland and Puntland. These Funds constitute the cornerstone of the programme, allowing for an expansion of the fiscal space and enhanced service delivery at the local level. Local Governments in the respective areas are going through a logical Public Expenditure Management process (Planning, Budgeting) to select projects for funding using simple but effective procurement processes.