The National Development Plan in Somalia set the bar high – aiming to realise an ambitious set of development objectives in a three-year period. Major problems continue to bedevil the economic and development front. For example, high youth unemployment, weak development of business in the agriculture sectors (fisheries, farming, livestock), unsustainable forest and water management, very large numbers of IDPs coming to the urban centers, and limited public service provision. The traditional ways of working will not be sufficient to realise the NDP objectives nor to achieve the Agenda 2030 principle of “leaving no one behind.” Innovative approaches are needed to turn these challenges into serious social and economic ventures that can make a positive impact that ripples across the country, including for those most marginalized and at risk, like low-income women, youth, and IDPs.
UNDP Somalia in collaboration with the Federal Government of Somalia Ministry of Planning, Investment and Economic Development and the Ministry of Trade and Industry launched the “Innovate for Somalia” project in July 2017 and successfully organized the first ever Social Innovation Camp in Somalia in September 2017. This present project builds upon the lessons learnt during the I4D pilot activities undertaken through the UNDP capacity development programme While further strengthening the initial approach, the project seeks to tap into the potential of all sectors of Somali society to innovate and design solutions that will help address the development challenges the country is facing.
To generate ideas and potential solutions for challenges in the dairy sector, Somalia hosted its first-ever social innovation camp in Mogadishu (October 2017). Over an eight-day period, 50 youth gathered to learn new methodologies for collaborative solution-seeking (design thinking) and as a result generated a dozen ideas that could be further developed into high-impact solutions.
Also initiated during the I4D pilot activities analysis phase was the process of externally sourcing ideas and priority development challenges through meetings with various stakeholders. Over the past three months, solutions from outside Somalia were identified to create alternative employment options (remote work via online platforms); support to emerging entrepreneurs (via online mentorship platform); and provide access to basic health care in remote areas (telemedicine). Discussions have been initiated with third-party partners in each of these areas to bring these solutions to Somalia, adapting and tailoring as necessary.
As a result, the Project will contribute to the following outcomes:
i) creation of an environment that enables and promotes the establishment and growth of productive ventures, including incubation, business development services and access to finance;
ii) opportunities provided whereby women and men, private and public sector and civil society can co-design development solutions to enhance services and programming in response to crises faced in Somalia
iii) network of social innovators that cuts across sectors that has experiences and insights to share, with each other and on the regional and global stage, about doing development differently;
iv) policies and programmes that more effectively and efficiently meet Somali citizens’ needs;
and v) a change in public perception about the future of Somalia, one that encourages all to “Innovate for Somalia.”
The overall outcome of the work ahead is that the Somali citizens will have access to employment, will have access to essential services like health and education, and will be better prepared to withstand human-made or natural disasters.