The First Conference on Reconstruction Strategies and Challenges Beyond Rehabilitation.
October 20-24, 1998 Hargeisa, Somaliland
At the end of the First Conference on Reconstruction Strategies held in Hargeisa, participants engaged in a special session to consider lessons learned from the Somaliland experience and to make suggestions for the future. Following are the recommendations presented at this concluding session, combined with recommendations and suggestions made during the formal conference presentation. In presenting these conference recommendations, we do not intend to criticize the policies or actions of past or present governments or those of any political group. Moreover, we hasten to point out that we have not been tasked or mandated either to hold the conference or to present these recommendations. We are doing so independently and on our own initiative. It is our purpose to present what we hope to be constructive advice in this difficult era of post- war reconstruction.
In submitting these recommendations, neither IPR nor the conference organizers presume to know all the answers. We do, however, view a process of dialogue and exchange of information as an essential ingredient to development. We hope the conference and this paper will spark more and better discourse among all of us.
The conference was a huge success. Nearly 200 participants from all sectors of the Somaliland society, as well as representatives of international organizations and institutions, engaged in four days of open and frank debate. It was the first time in the post-Siyad era that an international conference was held on Somali soil, a fact that in itself made the conference noteworthy. More importantly, we were able to demonstrate that Somaliland has reached a stage of political maturity where even politically antagonistic groups can come together to discuss, without rancor or hostility, issues of mutual national interest.
Over half of the participants were professionals currently working in Somaliland. It was gratifying that after two decades of warfare and civil strife, so many of our skilled and educated professionals remain or have returned. They are already engaged in the difficult day-to-day task of rebuilding their society. Their input into this conference is highly appreciated, and ensures that the recommendations contained herein reflect ground realities and are not simply imported ideas.
IPR received valuable help from a number of sources including financial support received from DAHABSHIIL, STC, SOLTELCO, NPP, DAALLO AIRLINES and DOLLAR STORE.
Some of the sessions of the conference were sponsored by a grant from the United States Embassy in Djibouti. The Center for the Strategic Initiatives of Women sponsored some participants. The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) of the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom co-sponsored the conference and IDS researchers made valuable contributions.
The government of Somaliland, especially the police and other organs of law and order and Members of the House of Parliament, helped us achieve a very smooth operation. IPR and the conference organizers appreciate their help and extend thanks to all of them. We extend special thanks to the President of Somaliland for helping us kick off this first international conference on post-war reconstruction and for the invaluable support we received from all branches of the government.
IPR would appreciate any comments on the recommendations presented below. We are especially interested in constructive suggestions on the themes and format for the next conference, which is planned for July 2000.
All comments can be sent to IPR Hargeisa (near HABITAT):
Ahmed H. Esa, PhD IPR, Hargeisa
This document can be downloaded from the Internet at the following site http://www.iprt.org
Throughout the conference, participants strongly recommended that a reconstruction strategy be based on clear priorities. Consolidating and maintaining peace is the most important priority, and must guide policy and projects in all sectors. Proper prioritization will require a screening process with appropriate bodies and guidelines, and will require more than a shopping list of proposals to request aid. Certain steps or policies have to be designated as first-stage, either because of urgency or because they are prerequisites for other actions. This prioritization applies to political innovations as well as development proposals. A reconstruction strategy must be based on lessons learned and must aim to correct past structural mistakes. To help achieve these strategic objectives, the participants emphasized the need for a follow-up conference that allows more time for discussion, in a format that is suitable for the consideration of experiential knowledge alongside "book" knowledge, with integrated, prioritized sets of recommendations as the intended output.
The challenge for institution building is for Somaliland to work out a system of governance that transcends both a state-controlled set of "National Plans" and a laissez faire attitude guided by unfettered private interests. There is a clear need to undertake studies on Somaliland political system, comparing the existing structures with a conventional ones, defining the roles of different government institutions (the Executive, the Parliament, and the Guurti), and the exploring possible strengths and shortfalls and options for improvement. This important job can be done by social scientists; unfortunately, such professionals are very scarce in the country at the moment. Somaliland Social Scientists, whether inside Somaliland or in the Diaspora, are urged to network, undertake these kinds of studies, and make practical recommendations and suggestions to the government and political leadership.
The emerging political system must adhere strictly to
norms of justice, accountability, transparency and respect for citizen human
and civil rights. On many occasions, participants pointed out that the current
crisis in Somalia and Somaliland is the legacy of a government structure and
institutions that failed with respect to accountability, transparency and
respect for human rights.
Two decades of civil war and dictatorial state control have severely challenged traditional values and norms, introducing profound changes even within households. The large proportion of women entering the labor force as heads of households or bread earners is perhaps the most important inheritance of the long civil strife. These changes are not new or unique to Somaliland. They have occurred elsewhere after similar periods of upheaval. They should not be viewed with alarm or negatively. On the contrary, Somaliland has a valuable window of opportunity to restructure and to redress historical imbalances in gender and minority clan relationships. The country can, without abandoning its Islamic religious teachings and obligations, positively channel the energy of its increasingly active female population by providing enhanced training, education and employment opportunities. Women and minority clan representation in senior management and policy-making organs of government can and must be increased.
Paradoxically, it is quite clear from recent history that Somaliland has found its anchor in its traditional pastoral ideals of mediation and conflict resolution. Finding harmony between this traditional anchors and "modernizing" changes introduced by recent events may prove difficult at the outset. However, as was evident from the conference itself, Somaliland's professional elite and its traditional elders view each other with mutual respect, each understanding the other's role. This augurs well for the ability of the society to shoulder new revolutionary challenges without serious adverse consequences to the culture.
In all cases and in forging ahead, Somalilanders should depend on their local and indigenous intellectual thoughts and inputs from all the sectors of the society, including women's groups and minority clans. The country cannot afford to import piecemeal or blindly doctrines from foreign industrial societies, considering how dismally the colonial experience and governance have failed in the past.
The following measures could strengthen and underpin a vital democratic process:
q Fostering public discussion of the constitution,
q Strengthening the procedures, finance and capabilities of the national Legislature, and
q Completing the process of empowerment of community leaders.
A vibrant independent media is vital to a democratic process and can also contribute to the reconstruction of the state and society by disseminating constructive and useful information. However, Somaliland journalists need assistance in obtaining training to enhance their technical capabilities and professionalism. The government is urged to seek or provide support to Somaliland's nascent media.
Participants from the Ministry of Planning and Coordination indicated a strong desire to see the seeds planted through this conference bear fruit. The Ministry was concerned that Somaliland not lose the interest and commitment of the group assembled for the conference (from the Diaspora and members of the local community from whose counsel they do not often benefit). The Ministry wants to enlist those who are interested to participate in an informal advisory panel to provide ideas, advice and feedback to the Ministry in its important planning and coordination work. Conference participants recommended that such panels could also be started for other ministries.
More generally, Somaliland professionals should constantly interact among themselves and present ideas to rebuild and improve the condition of their country and state. A roster could be established for professionals in the sectors of the agriculture, livestock and the environment willing to assist and advise. Professional associations could also be established for networking between specialists in Somaliland and abroad.
The consensus among conference participants was that the private sector is the engine driving the reconstruction and development process. The private sector's vibrancy in telecommunications, money transfer operations and transportation is particularly noteworthy. The government should foster the emerging private sector with a proper regulatory environment, a predictable tax structure, and sound, market- oriented economic policies. Transparency and accountability in the public sector are essential to maximize scarce resources.
Trade policy should be as open as possible to encourage healthy competition and for maximum benefit to consumers. A well-functioning justice system would contribute to a positive investment climate for both foreign and domestic firms. Considering Somaliland's strategic position in the Horn of Africa, the government and the private sector are also urged to encourage closer economic and security arrangements between Ethiopia, Somaliland and Djibouti, including joint development and environmental conservation projects and closer cooperation on law enforcement.
Research data presented during the conference showed that the yearly flow of investment (largely in remittances to relatives) from the overseas Somaliland community far outweighs the amount of aid money received from the international donor community. Unfortunately, most of the money coming from overseas is used for immediate consumption and not in productive ventures. Additionally, it is disturbing that a considerable portion of the overseas inflow serves to finance the wasteful daily importation of khat. Somaliland would be well advised to find ways to manage better the considerable overseas income it receives and to direct part of the national income to productive activities.
Considering the current post-war condition of Somaliland's infrastructure, the government needs to build up the public revenue quickly through direct and indirect taxation, import duties, and revenues such as fees for public services. The importance of transparency and accountability to a viable system of taxation and collection of duties cannot be overemphasized. Time and again, participants pointed out that public servants that are paid unrealistically low wages, such as those received by government employees in 1998 couldn’t reasonably be expected to adhere to standards of accountability and transparency. Public revenues are needed to revamp the nation's destroyed infrastructure, educate its children, and provide for other critical social services. The government is urged to accelerate its efforts to streamline its operations and to provide its workers with reasonable compensation commensurate with Somaliland's cost of living indices.
In addition to paying the relevant taxes, Somaliland merchants, large and small, should contribute as much as they can to build their country, i.e. through investments in small businesses and industries. Among other specific measures that could foster economic development are:
q The introduction of viable and self-sustaining credit schemes, especially for production, trade, housing and resettlement activities,
q The establishment of financial intermediaries, including viable commercial banking systems to facilitate transfer of payments and safekeeping of deposits,
q Establishment of an economic advisory council, composed of relevant government officials, livestock traders and other leading businesspeople, and economic experts from inside and outside the country, who would meet on a regular basis and in the case of economic crisis,
q Establishment of a broad- based national "Economic and Social Affairs Commission," on a par with the, Civil Service Commission, with significant representation by women, minorities, professionals, workers and youth, which would make recommendations on public policy issues affecting development,
q Policies to reduce wasteful substance abuse like khat chewing and smoking. Adding three or four afternoon sessions to the workweek could be a simple and efficient way to reduce the amount of time and money wasted on these habits, as would be the enforcement of fixed and strict working hours.
The ultimate goal of development planning in Somaliland must be the achievement of long-term sustainable food security for its population. Somaliland's livelihood and economy are heavily dependent on its agro pastoral sector, which has been devastated by the long war and mismanagement by previous governments. To revitalize the important agro pastoral sector, Somaliland must follow an integrated, comprehensive plan in agriculture, livestock and the environment. An inter-ministerial Food Security Planning Unit comprised of senior policymaking officers in the sectors of agriculture, livestock, water resources and rangeland management ought to be established. Considering the recurrence of droughts and famines, the unit should include a Famine Early Warning System that would participate in the activities of regional systems, such as those managed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Nairobi and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Djibouti.
government structure, with five ministries dealing separately with agriculture,
livestock, water resources, rural development, and environment, appears
wasteful, riddled with overlapping responsibilities, and not conducive to a
streamlined, integrated strategy.
For the important livestock sector, the following additional measures were recommended:
q The revision and enforcement of laws and regulations governing animal health, with specific reference to the privatization of the veterinary service.
q Training and upgrading of veterinary staff through assistance from government, livestock traders, NGO’s, and international organizations.
q Rehabilitation of major water points, berkeds and other water reservoirs in areas with high concentration of animals.
q Reconstruction of fodder production farms and dipping units for animal health.
q Establishment of an epidemiological unit at the ministerial level for statistical data collection and monitoring of animal diseases in the country.
q Establishment of regular veterinary drug supplies, and mobile units linked to the regional center. Diagnostic laboratory facilities at regional extension centers would serve the nomadic community.
q Establishment of a livestock extension system capable of delivering, on a regular basis, extension packages in animal health, as well as improve fodder production and animal husbandry among livestock owners.
q Establishment of income-generating activities in rural communities through the implementation of specific programs for women, involving activities such as small poultry units, traditional handicrafts and traditional dairy products.
q Urgent rehabilitation of livestock export facilities to cope with the ever increasing demand for animal health services, due both to a sharp rise in the number of exported animals and to more exacting standards by importing countries
The conference organizers
regretted that senior officials from the Ministry of Health (MOH) did not
participate in the conference and that UNICEF did not present its programs. The
session on health issues was one of the strongest and liveliest sessions, with
expert participants from the World Health Organization, the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees, and local and regional experts on Maternal and Child
Health, Pediatric Care, and Mental Health.
q Formulate a National Health Plan as a priority. The Plan could be for 2 years at first, followed by a more detailed one to cover five years. The MOH may start with a "Health Services Rehabilitation Requirements Study" from which to derive not just general policy, but a specific and practical strategy for quick revitalization of the nation's health care system.
q Define and strengthen the role of the MOH as coordinator, manager and supervisor of health-related activities.
q Develop and introduce a training program for health workers.
q Introduce a "Bamako Initiative"-style cost-recovery system so that part of the health services running costs may be recovered from many small patient contributions.
q Improve administrative and accounting systems to provide clear and transparent accounts of income and output of funds and dispensation of valuable pharmaceuticals and other hospital supplies.
q Create a Technical Advisory Body of health professionals.
Participants emphasized that ignoring the HIV/AIDS pandemic will have disastrous long-term consequences. The MOH must take this disease seriously and immediately begin appropriate HIV/AIDS prevention and control programs.
To strengthen the delivery of health care 'm Somaliland, the MOH could utilize the following additional strategies:
q Decentralize the responsibilities of the MOH to most periphery locations at community levels.
q Reinforce MOH collaboration with other Ministries (Inter-sector collaboration) since health is determined principally by social, economic, environmental and cultural factors.
q Involve communities in planning and implementation of health activities targeted at their districts.
q Increase resource mobilization efforts.
q Emphasize communication of health education as the nucleus of all public health programs.
q Create a Department in the MOH to handle public health education and awareness.
q Introduce appropriate health legislation as early as possible.
A large proportion of the population depends on private health care providers. There are considerable gaps in the quality of services provided by the mushrooming health care clinics. It is the responsibility of both the MOH and health care professionals to ensure the quality and safety of all health care operations in the country. An Association of Somaliland Health Workers could be instrumental in achieving the above objective. Community and individual motivation and commitment are necessary in this period of reconstruction to buttress government efforts to respond to pressing needs and priorities in this sector.
strategy in education must take into account and seek to correct the numerous
faults of the pre-war system inherited from the colonial era. The near total
destruction of all education institutions provides Somaliland with an
opportunity to start with a clean slate, adapting a system of education
uniquely suitable to Somaliland's environment, development stage and
national priorities, rather than rushing to rehabilitate the old system. Much
reflection on the national educational goals, and strategies for the attainment
of these goals; are necessary. Somaliland ought to recognize that the future of
this country rests on quality education for its future generations.
Education resources are scarce. Teaching/Learning materials are almost nonexistent; due to lack of financial resources. Only 46.4% of the teachers have undergone some kind of training. Teachers receive woefully inadequate salaries and are discouraged by the lack of the most basic resources. Reconstruction must address the lack of sufficient financial resources at the central level. Decentralization and community management of schools, which would include financing, is suggested as a possible response to lack of resources at the government level.
The Ministry of Education, while working towards the education of future generations of children, should not forget the thousands of young men and women who lost their opportunities to war. Some in this generation saw their schooling interrupted by the war, while others have never had the opportunity to start. They are too old for formal education and in many cases they represent a disenfranchised and destabilizing element in the society. Adult education, remedial courses and vocational training for this lost generation are needed. To begin to address this problem, UNHCR should be requested to finance, as part of its reintegration projects, Adult Education Programs in the Somali language for the youth of Somaliland who are beyond the age of formal education and either in the streets or in the Army of Somaliland (demobilized clan militias) or still in refugee camps.
In the view of participants, the education system should reflect a society’s strategy to promote creativity, self-reliance and citizenship among the young generations. Somaliland's new education system must sensitize students to a correct understanding of citizenship by showing them their responsibilities in the society. They should be helped to fulfill their potentials and to rise to the highest level of their capabilities. Recreation and sports facilities should also be rehabilitated to provide healthy outlets for youthful energy and alternatives to khat chewing for adults.
The intermediate and secondary schools should consider work-based learning opportunities, which attempt to build the foundation for successful employment. The youth should acquire the skills and knowledge necessary for tomorrow's jobs.
Revamping the old "trades and technical" schools may be more useful in the short- term than embarking on a university track education system.
Conference participants offered the following as possible solutions to the dilemma facing the Ministry of Education:
q Community management of schools (including financing, decision making on educational content; and monitoring and evaluation);
q Privatization of education services, to be managed by community appointed committees; with local financing and central government subsidies;
q Municipal management of primary schools, with community contributions and central government subsidies;
q Clarification of the role of the Ministry as a result of innovations;
q A defined role for the community, municipality, and teachers with respect to curriculum renewal and development, including identification of curriculum subjects and content;
q A government assessment of the number of dropout students as result of prolonged war, to know the number of girls and boys who have been obliged to sacrifice their education at an early age, and to design programs to allow them to continue their schooling.
International aid agencies have played a vital humanitarian role in Somaliland over the past decade. Increasingly, however, aid agencies, particularly UN offices, are viewed with suspicion. Although UNOSOM (United Nations Operations in Somalia) had practically no presence in Somaliland, many leaders of both the civil society and the government regard the UN agencies as conspiratorial vestiges of UNOSOM'S failed national reconciliation schemes. Participants were especially concerned that only a meager portion of aid allocated by the donor community seems to reach the intended beneficiaries and that UN agencies are hostile antagonists to Somaliland.
Most UN agencies operate out of offices in Nairobi with
only limited presence in Somaliland. Most UN offices in Somaliland are staffed
by junior or contractual staff without even the most basic decision making
To challenge this image of being a hostile antagonist, UN agencies should do a better job of interacting with the community and government and better explaining their mandates and activities. They are also urged to:
q Ensure that aid achieves the intended purposes,
q Upgrade dramatically their level of presence in Somaliland, and
q Change the security designation for appropriate regions of Somaliland.
On the other hand, there is also a pressing need for the Somaliland government and local communities to commit themselves to accountability and transparency, and ensure that UN and international NGOs activities support and are integrated into national and local development priorities. The appointment of government staff with appropriate professional qualifications and skills to deal with the international community is of paramount importance to foster better and more productive relationships with international agencies and the donor community.
Considering the vital need for demobilization of former combatants and militia, the government should be pressed to develop a coherent coordinated strategy for demobilization and reintegration of former combatants that is fully integrated into and supports its development strategies. The international community, donor agencies, international NGOs should be pressed to produce a coordinated response to this strategy, including financial and technical support.
Aid must strengthen local administrative structures and not undermine them. Therefore aid must be channeled through the local authorities, but everybody concerned must insist upon accountability and transparency: the nation, local population groups, donors, implementers and state authorities.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the most active among all UN agencies in Somaliland. UNHCR is charged with the repatriation of Somaliland refugees from camps in Northeastern Ethiopia, where they sought shelter in 1988 after fleeing the scorched earth tactics of the Somali Army. Their continuing encampment can only cause long-term deleterious psychological scarring. Acceleration of their repatriation is demanded by the refugees themselves, as well as by international donors, yet the burden of a large number of returnees on Somaliland's fragile economy and stability is recognized. The destabilizing livestock export ban imposed by Saudi Arabia in early 1998 exacerbated this fragility. Unfortunately, as UNHCR representatives explained in their conference presentation, the mandate of UNHCR to protect the welfare of refugees and immediate returnees is limited to small-scale Quick Impact Projects of short duration and effect. To help Somaliland cope with the inevitable return of large numbers of refugees, international donor community assistance must go beyond quick-fix projects of relief and rehabilitation to development. It is high time that donor community followed the often-repeated expert advice that "assistance should underpin peace and development".
Regardless of the conduct and operations of UN and other international agencies, Somaliland should avoid succumbing to a crippling "dependency syndrome", which assumes the answer to every problem is a bailout by donors. Instead, Somaliland should continue to rely on its own available resources as much as possible. A coordinated strategy and well thought out allocation of national resources are far more useful to achieving long-term development goals than reliance on outside assistance. Somalilanders should take pride in having survived, largely on their own, two decades of dictatorial warfare and eight years of ostracism by the international community.
To best build on this proud achievement, local NGOs (who have shouldered in the past much of the reconstruction effort) should have clear mandates and develop enhanced capability to implement projects. A proliferation of opportunistic "briefcase" NGOs, often no more than individual contractors, must be discouraged both by government legislation on not-for-profit organizations and by strict, consistent screening by funding institutions.
While the people of Somaliland are urged to free themselves from aid dependency, aid agencies and donor communities are asked to modify the current system of aid allocation and implementation of projects. Assistance activities can appear unresponsive to local realities, wasteful with too many expert studies and fact-finding missions by expert advisors, and even after project approval, slow in implementation.
Few participants at the conference saw the wisdom or utility of a Nairobi-based Somalia Aid Coordinating Body or the usefulness to Somaliland reconstruction of a documentation resource center maintained by UNDOS in Nairobi.
The Somaliland educated and economically viable strata - at home and within the global Diaspora - must strive to cooperate through the formation of professional associations, trusts and NGOs. Somali business groups at home and in the Diaspora should be utilized to provide and administer financial investments for emergencies, rehabilitation and development.
Participants urged the Somaliland community in the Diaspora to continue to organize itself to promote the welfare and development of their peoples. They should make every effort to promote visits, conferences and other modes of interactions; they should pay particular attention to visits by their children so as to strengthen their knowledge of their language, religion and culture.
Diaspora contributions will be vastly increased, strengthened and facilitated as Somaliland authorities focus on the following:
q Institution Building: Institutions are needed to strengthen political freedom by emphasizing personal security for peaceful political activity; allow for rule of law; support freedom of expression and legal guarantees for all; and encourage economic and political participation of all the people.
q Private Sector Focus: Promote the role of the private sector by providing a higher degree of professional competence and managerial capabilities.
q Utilize Local Resources: Put great emphasis on the utilization of internal resources in all areas and functions for capacity building. This is an important element contributing to the creation of a self-sustaining program.