Think local. Governance, humanitarian aid, development and peacebuilding in Somalia

This study seeks to understand the incentives and interests – or lack thereof – for collaboration and coordination across humanitarian, development and peacebuilding sectors, as the call for a ‘nexus approach’ grows louder. It does so by looking at the practical experiences of the international community, including non-traditional donors in Somalia.

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    The political situation in Somalia is changing. Relative stability should not be mistaken for lasting peace, yet recent progress in the federalisation agenda gives Somalis and external partners hope for long-term recovery and economic development in the country. As Somalia remains heavily dependent on humanitarian assistance, pursuing the ‘nexus approach’ to bridge the divide between humanitarian aid, development cooperation and peacebuilding is generally seen to be a critical condition for maintaining what has been achieved in the past few years.

    Humanitarians, together with the private sector and clan networks, have long been the primary providers of basic services and social protection in Somalia. While this continues to save lives, it has pushed NGOs and implementing partners to deepen, rather than broaden, their expertise and delivery of assistance. In some cases, their interest in securing their niche within the Somali aid environment is greater than their incentive to pragmatically respond to the needs of their beneficiaries.

    Relative stability has allowed for innovation at the local level, and we identify several opportunities for further advancing integrated approaches in practice. As the Somali statebuilding process takes root, the real starting point for nexus approaches may well be at the local level, through collaboration among a range of actors from government officials to clan elders, and from civil society to humanitarian, development and peacebuilding practitioners.

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