Donor projects undo the “New Deal for Somalia”

Donor projects and practices are undoing the principles and goals of the New Deal for Somalia, a partnership Compact intended to consolidate the “national political settlement” spelled out in the “Provisional Constitution” as a foundation for the Somali State. The central tenet of the New Deal Approach is the commitment that the international community seeks and keenly respects national ownership, leadership role of the national government, and the territorial integrity and unity of Somalia.  But donor institutions (bureaucracies) continue to employ old unethical practices and incentives for division and dispute among Somalis, which makes failure and foreign domination certain.

Regrettably, after the Somali leaders forfeited the ownership and responsibility over their shared country, enviable resources, national identity and spirit, destiny, and dignity, international and regional powers took over the control of managing Somalia under different justifications- humanitarian, security threats, geostrategic interests, or as laboratory for all kinds of ideas and pursuits. The new foreign domination system, which is far worse than the old colonial system, has created its local constituencies and cultures that have devalued the value of patriotism, political ethics, and good governance.

In difference to the historical penetration and colonization, the foreign funded and managed intervention programs in Somalia are the vehicle for the creation of the new foreign domination system that proclaims Somalia’s stabilization and reconstruction but practically inhibits national independence, cohesion, ownership, security, and economic recovery. This nefarious socio-political enthrallment continues to deepen the polarization of the Somali society and represents a mammoth obstacle to the emergence of functional self-governance.

The Somali Elite see this tragic reality but preferred being acquiescent rather than mastering the necessary fortitude and discipline for drastic course correction. To revive the spirit of Somali nationhood, Somalis must practice a moral system that nurtures humility, empathy, solidarity, equity, and equal opportunity for all Somalis and that fights against the culture of corruption, foreign incentives for division and domination, institutionalization of clan federalism, and selfish attitude.

In 2005, in the midst of intense political and security crisis in Somalia marked by the split of the transitional federal institutions into Mogadishu and Jowhar camps as well as by the detached status of Somaliland and Puntland, the international donors embarked on the design of a “Joint Needs Assessment (JNA)” project, later implemented by the World Bank (WB) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The exercise produced the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) document that covered six priority clusters and three cross cutting issues. The six priority clusters were Governance, safety and rule of law; Macro-Economic policy framework and data development; Infrastructures; Social services and protection of vulnerable groups; Productive sectors and environment; and Livelihoods and solutions for the displaced.  The Three cross cutting cluster issues were Peace-building, reconciliation and conflict prevention; Capacity Building and institutional development and anti-corruption initiatives; Gender and Human Rights.

The estimated cost of the RDP, scheduled for implementation for the five years 2006-2010, was US$ 2.2 billion planned to be raised in a donor conference co hosted by Sweden and Italy in Rome. There were no indications how the former Transitional Federal Government (TFG) responsible for the central and south regions of Somalia would have overcome the obstacles to the implementation of the RDP, namely the absence of political unity, wide spread insecurity, and lack of indispensable public administration structure.

Somaliland and Puntland wielded certain level of authority and influence over the JNA exercise for the interests of their population because JNA served to boast the acceptance of their detached status. In addition, the JNA became the godfather of the development plans of the two regions supported by the international donors.

The Ministry of National Planning and International Cooperation of former TFG represented the population of the central and south regions and acted adversely by misrepresenting the interests of the local population. This has instigated public protests and indignation among the local population and their representatives at the national level, which led to continuous tweaks issued by the project managers stationed in Nairobi for cover up.

In final analysis, the JNA exercise served to deepen the sentiment of territorial division of Somalia along clan lines, the culture of corruption, and unabashed allegiance to foreign domination. In brief, the exercise was a mockery for the future of Somalia.

The 2013 New Deal exercise resembles the JNA with the exception that the international community endorsed the New Deal and pledged $2.4 billion dollars without the 400+ JNA documents. The test is ‘how’ the projects funded by the new deal resources will not be hindrances to the principles of the “Provisional Constitution” and to the efforts of “Statebuilding” in Somalia.

Prior to the launch of the new deal for Somalia, three projects gained high priority for shadowy reasons. These three projects are:  (1) Population Estimation Survey of Somalia (PESS) mandated by the United Nations; (2) the Go-2-School (G2S) project; and (3) Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSSP). The latter two projects have been directly requested by the Minister of Human Development and Public Services to UNICEF and WHO. The Joint Health Nutrition Program (JHNP) under implementation is the flagship of HSSP plan. The total outlay of the three projects for the three years 2014 -2016 is US$ 475 million.

UNICEF and WHO maintain the control over the planning, funding, and management of the three projects. Few officials of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Somaliland, and Puntland play conflict of interest roles in the management of these projects.  The lack of clear hierarchical and central authority of the projects’ planning, budgeting, and management presents serious problems and concerns. At this juncture, the negative impact of the three projects far outweighs their socio-economic benefits.

For example, to honor the ownership condition, it was necessary the institutional participation of parliament, council of ministers, ministry of foreign affairs, ministry of natural resources, central bank, general accountant, general auditor, regional authorities, media, and representatives of the public in the various stages of the projects. It was also important to evaluate the three projects in terms of national priorities as well as in terms of their sustainability after three years.

Unfortunately, the three projects share with JNA the characteristics of deepening the sentiment of territorial division, encouraging foreign allegiance, sowing the seeds of social tension, corruption, and distortion in the formulation of government policies and programs. The claim that the stakeholders in the central and south regions have ownership, awareness, and participation roles in these three projects is an exaggeration.

Particularly, the PESS is a sensitive exercise for political, economic and security reasons. National census is a constitutionally mandated task that should be carried out throughout Somalia transparently, timely and confidently under unified authority and administration. The United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) implements the PESS under three different authorities with different levels of interests over the projects. The issues of area coverage and representation of Central and South populations by the federal government are controversial. The people of Khatumo State rejected the Survey in their area. One data collector was killed in Mogadishu.

Undoubtedly, the PESS outcome will be affected differently by the influences of the three conflicting and competing authorities (Somaliland, Puntland and Federal Republic of Somalia). Similarly, as the sham administrative structures created by the security and rule of law reform projects, the education and health projects are creating similar sham administrative structures that undermine the political, economic and social foundations of statebuilding. The delivery of State services should be based on the framework of pre-established national institutions (staff, infrastructure, resources, and rules) embedded in public administration and public policy formulation processes for genuine ownership.

The interrelated top priorities for Somalia are the upholding of the “political settlement spelled out in the provisional constitution”, the physical control over the national territory, and an  international partnership that focuses on the establishment of state institutions at national, regional and local levels for the delivery of expected core functions and services under the rule of law. To address the dire situation in Somalia, donor projects must reinforce the principles of the new deal for statebuilding.


Mr. Mohamud M Uluso