Learning exchanges strengthen local administrations
Like most Somali institutions, local administrations face a myriad of challenges. There is an urgent need to increase the capacity of institutions to enable them to deliver basic and necessary services to their people. As part of an innovative project through the UN Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralized Service Delivery (JPLG), UNDP is facilitating peer-to-peer learning exchanges between local governments in the Baidoa and Garowe districts of Somalia. These learning exchanges help administrators share knowledge and adapt solutions to improve public service, delivery, local financial management, and public participation in their communities.
Over the last few decades, insecurity in Baidoa District in south-western Somalia put extreme restrictions on local administrators working in the area. A recent wave of stability in Baidoa opened access for local authorities. This presents opportunities to establish systems for governance, rule of law, and basic services urgently needed by the local community. However, many challenges remain and Baidoa’s authorities largely lack the technical skills and experience needed to set up public services. To help them gain the experience they need, the mayor of Garowe (the administrative capital of Somalia’s Puntland region) invited representatives from Baidoa on a peer-to-peer learning exchange to take part in the 2015 district planning workshop.
“The peer-to-peer workshop between local governments is a big opportunity,” said Hasan Moalin Ali, Baidoa’s Deputy Secretary to the Mayor. “The knowledge and sharing information help us benefit from Garowe’s local government, because Baidoa doesn’t have much experience on the public expenditure management system.”
Since 2009, JPLG has been working with the local administration and district councils in Garowe to strengthen their capacity. Local councils from across the district now come together for annual work planning to decide on priorities for investments, and to discuss achievements and challenges. Garowe administrators are now experience in planning and budgeting, and they use the annual meeting to review their achievements against the District Development Framework (their 5-year development plan).
The delegation from Baidoa included Abdulkadir Sh. Ali Baraka (Deputy Mayor of Baidoa), Hassan Moalin Ali, (Deputy Secretary to Mayor), Muhidin Mohamed Muse, (Secretary of Social Affairs), Lul Mohamed Abdinur, (District Council Member and Head of Gender Affairs). “With what we have learnt we want to be the leaders of good local governance for other districts,” said Lul Mohamed.
By participating in Garowe’s planning process, Baidoa administrators learned from experiences on service delivery and improved core functions of local governance. They were also trained on public expenditure management (conducted by their Garowe counterparts), visited government departments and JPLG project sites, observed the annual work planning process and took part in district validation meetings. The public expenditure management training helped delegates learn the critical process of allocating and managing public resources. Baidoa and Garowe’s taxation procedures were compared, and Baidoa’s representatives set plans for tax regulation laws.
“We shall call the mayors and the councils and brief them on what we have seen here,” said Muhidin Mohamed Muse, Secretary of Social Affairs in Baidoa. “We will tell them how we shall improve the community through taxation and planning.”
With UNDP’s strategic and technical support, fundamental shifts in the way that governments work will encourage growth and stability in Somali institutions to deliver better security, services and opportunities for all. The JPLG Programme (UN-Habitat, UNICEF, UNCDF, ILO, and UNDP) helps address the fundamental challenges administrations face by enhancing the capacity of local governments in Somaliland and Puntland, particularly to deliver decentralized public services effectively. This is largely funded through Sweden, European Commission, DFID, Norway and Denmark.