14 June 2022 14:0015:30

Breaking the cycle of crisis in Somalia: How can Europe increase support for locally owned initiatives?

On 14 June 2022 from 14:00 to 15:30, ECDPM together with Egmont InstituteEuropean Policy Centre and King Baudouin Foundation (KBF), jointly organised a hybrid webinar ‘Breaking the cycle of crisis in Somalia: How can Europe increase support for locally-owned initiatives?’.

ECDPM staff involved

Somalia is being hit hard by the effects of the COVID crisis and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which comes on top of major political, socio-economic, security and climate change-related challenges. According to FAO, Somalia depends on Russia and Ukraine for over 90% of its wheat imports. The country is marred by conflict and natural disasters which are becoming more unpredictable and frequent due to climate change. Somalia is undergoing one of its worst droughts in 40 years, and around 3.5 million people are facing acute food insecurity.

Conflict also endures, despite a 15-year African Union peace operation and security support from the US, Europe, Gulf countries and Turkey. Al-Shabaab and several clans still control large parts of Somalia, leading to insecurity, gender violence and high numbers of child soldiers. Frustrations, particularly amongst the younger generations over continued insecurity, poor basic services and living conditions are growing day by day.

Against this fragile background, elections were held on 15 May with opposition leader Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, elected as president for the second time. Somalis have a tradition of dialogue and debate and have shown pragmatism and resilience in the face of conflict and political divisions. More than ever Somalia needs locally embedded initiatives to cope with these multiple challenges.

This interactive panel discussion aimed to:

  • highlight and discuss some of the most remarkable local initiatives in Somalia including the work of the Elman Peace Centre
  • explore how the EU could step up its support for such endogenous bottom-up initiatives in a context where Somalia and the whole Horn of Africa are severely affected by the dramatic impacts of the COVID crisis, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and climate change

Our guest of honour was Ms Ilwad Elman, the Program Director of the Elman Peace Centre in Mogadishu and recent winner of the prestigious KBF Africa Prize.




Ilwad Elman, Director of Programmes, Elman Peace Centre
Lidet Tadesse, Associate Director, Peaceful societies and accountable governance, ECDPM
Ambassador Nicholas Berlanga, former EU Ambassador to Somalia and Advisor, EEAS
Stijn Vercruysse, Journalist on Africa, Belgian-Flemish Radio and TV (VRT)

Moderator: Geert Laporte, Senior Executive-ECDPM & Director-European Think Tanks Group (ETTG).

The panel will be addressing the following questions:

  • What is the impact of COVID, the Ukraine crisis and climate change on the “forgotten conflict” in Somalia?
  • How can bottom-up initiatives help to build a new future for Somalia? What has been achieved? Who has been benefiting from these initiatives? What have been key factors of success? What are the current key challenges in the deteriorating context?
  • How can the international community, and the EU in particular, provide support to Somalia both in the short term and in a longer-term perspective?
  • What lessons can be drawn from the Elman Centre and other Somali initiatives for other regions in conflict in Africa?

The KBF Africa Prize has been awarded to Elman Peace of Somalia in recognition of the organisation’s successful efforts to combat violence and promote social justice. Its record of empowering and cultivating leadership skills among women and young people is outstanding.

The King Baudouin Foundation (KBF), European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), the European Policy Centre (EPC) and the Egmont Institute are joining forces to highlight the outstanding work of Elman Peace, Somalia, in light of the enormous challenges the country is facing. This is a unique opportunity for an in-depth dialogue with an impressive grassroots organisation that is multiplying approaches towards a peaceful society.

Watch the recording