JPLG/UNDP Supports Dialogue Forum on Decentralization in Interim South West State Administration (ISWA)

The ISWA Dialogue Forum will strengthen newly formed ISWA Ministries’ relationships with District Administrations in support of improved service delivery September 2015, UNDP Somalia

The Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs and the Interim South West Administration’s (ISWA) Ministry of Interior and Local Government, co-facilitated a Decentralization Dialogue Forum, supported by JPLG/UNDP in September 2015 in Baidoa, the capital of Interim South West Administration.

In 2012, the Transitional Federal Constitution of Somalia adopted the federalism principle that devolves authority to Federal Member State Governments and Districts in a regulated manner.

Decentralization defines the most appropriate balance of shared responsibilities, among the Federal Government, State Sector Ministries and District Governments, to enhance accountable and effective service delivery. It involves a series of policy reforms that allow specific responsibilities and resources to be transferred from the Federal Government of Somalia through the Federal Member State to implementation of basic services by a District Government in line with the Transitional Federal Constitution of Somalia (2012).  

In 2015, JPLG/UNDP is supporting Federal State Governments of Jubbaland and the Interim South West Administration, to establish institutions with sufficient capacity, so that core functions are developed, that facilitate decentralization and improved delivery of services to citizens. A significant component of the JPLG/UNDP strategy for strengthened local governance under the Interim South West Administration includes a series of Dialogue Forums on Decentralized Service delivery. This forum is the first in a number of such forums.

In order for decentralization to be successful, an effective working relationship between ISWA ministries, federal offices and district administrations needs to be established. This involves the building of consensus and incremental trust, before a legal framework to facilitate the decentralization process is put in place. The two day Dialogue Forum sought to create understanding among representatives from the newly formed ISWA ministries on the process of decentralization – outlining the need for harmonized horizontal and vertical relations and the sharing of roles and responsibilities between federal offices, state offices and local government to create the foundations for improved service delivery by local government.

The ISWA Minister of Interior, Abdirahman Ibrahim Satte, opened the Dialogue Forum and acknowledged support from JPLG/UNDP and the Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs.  “Participants have to discuss decentralization and understand the issue and apply their knowledge to their day to day activities,” Minister Satte said.

Participants included representatives from six of the newly formed ISWA Ministries (including Interior, Finance, Water, Minerals, and Transport), Bay Regional Administration, Baidoa District Administration and youth from a local civil society organization. The Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs facilitated the Dialogue Forum.

The JPLG/UNDP Senior Local Government Planning Consultant from the Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs, Abdulrahman Aligab Abdi, facilitated the group work session ‘The Role of ISWA Ministries and Offices to the Decentralization Process.’ Participants were encouraged to reflect and discuss the role of ISWA ministries as well as federal offices and the facilitator assisted the participants to identify roles and responsibilities between the stakeholders that would facilitate the decentralization process.

The presentation and subsequent discussion on ‘Decentralization: Challenges and Opportunities’, was facilitated by the JPLG/UNDP Decentralization Consultant, Gulaid Ahmed Hassan, from the Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs. The session covered decentralization challenges including structural conflicts, capacity constraints, political interest, corruption, patronage politics and exclusion of vulnerable groups. During the group discussion, participants were also able to identify that decentralization provides significant opportunities for improved governance.

As Gulaid Ahmed Hassan said “Decentralization encourages improved institutional strength, empowerment, participation, improvement in service delivery (including primary health care, education, water, sanitation, access to roads, street lighting, market infrastructure, extension of livestock/agriculture), allocative efficiency, greater voice and choice for the locals, representative elected bodies, inclusive decision making, utilizing local knowledge/resource and relief from federal offices.”

The Bay Governor mentioned that after the civil war there was a loss of trust in central government. He said that discussions on how to proceed to the next level of cooperation between the federal government ministries, state government ministries, and local governments in a harmonized way was helpful and presented a unique opportunity to transform governance. He encouraged participants to actively contribute their thoughts and perspectives on the decentralization process.

With the generous support of the European Commission, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and UK Aid, JPLG works closely with local counterparts in promoting improvements in the ability of local governments to provide equitable services to communities. The Dialogue Forum helped to establish foundations for mutual cooperation between ISWA ministries and federal offices and district administrations.  Further Dialogue Forums are planned to continue to facilitate the perspectives of citizens on decentralized service delivery throughout ISWA districts.

The Dialogue Forum was reported on many Somali media sites including Radio, and A Dialogue Forum Report was also aired on Somali National TV, the principal public service broadcaster.

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