19 May 2007 04:25


  • Title: [SW Country] (Abdirahman Shuke) orkshop on Sustainning Local Successor Initiatives
  • Posted by/on:[AMJ][Thursday, Sept. 21, 2000]

Country Team Workshop on Sustaining Local Successor Initiatives

Hargeysa, Somalia


Presentation by Abdurahman A. Osman (Shuke)

Director, Puntland Development Research Center


1.        Background.


a)        Historical  Overview 

     The history of the northeastern regions (Mudug, Nugal and Bari) which are part of the recently created Puntland State of Somalia has been dominated- over decades- by negative historical and political events during the Twentieth Century. There existed a structure of government beginning the early years of 19th Century: the Sultanate of Majerteen (1809-1926) and Sultanate of Mudug/ Hobyo (1885-1925). These sultanates, though primordial in political style and state management, had, nonetheless, administrative and military structures, which safeguarded Sultanates’ security and political stability: a council of elders and a military force were in place to operate political and security matters.  Taxation system, export of livestock and animal and agricultural products, and import of consumer goods thrived in the second half of the 19th Century and First Quarter of the 20th Century (Wayne K.Durrel- Atrocious Misery: The African Origins of Famine in Northern Somalia, 1839-1884, The Historical American Historical Review, 1986).

  Trade and commercial relations existed between the sultanates and Indian sub-continent and Arabian Peninsula where unregulated exchange of goods (Export/import) flourished in both sides. As a result of this contact with the outside world, marine communication  increased and owning of cargo dhows (wooden ships) by local merchants for sea transportation of goods and people became technological achievement. The construction of small fishing boats locally had also increased the commercial fishing of sharks and other marine products (dried fish) for export.  This allowed the coastal people to become seafarers who developed trade and human relations with East-African countries (Zangibar, Tanganika, Mombasa and towns of Southern Somalia-Mogadishu, Marka and Kisimaayo) and  western shores of Indian subcontinent. Ships from Muscat, Aden, Bombay and Karatchi docked  at the port of Bander  Gassim (Boosaaso) to take on livestock, gum incense and myrrh (Charles Guillain: Documents sur l'histoire, 1843) 

 Encouraged by the new commercial and trade opportunity in the south, the Sultan sent an expedition to south to capture the town of Kisimayo in 1868. Kismayo’s conquest became a turning point for the expansion of the Sultanate’s trade  in the East Africa. For, Kismayo became a supplying station and trade center for sultanate’s Dhows to and from East African shores. To consolidate their trade and commercial interest, the two sultanates established  friendly relation with the Omani Sultan of Zengibar who ruled also the Benaadir coastal towns of Somalia and Mombasa.


b)       Colonial Conquest.

 The Italy’s conquest of the two Sultanates in 1925-1926 dismantled all political structures that existed and replaced them with a fascist administration. The economically flourishing towns and villages on the  coast Indian Ocean were bombarded in 1925/26 by Italian battleships to subdue peoples’ resistance and to destroy the economic and commercial system. 

The colonial administration suspended livestock and frankincense export to Arabia. Italian companies imported goods on big ships from Italy via Mogadishu to almost all coastal towns of the northeast. This policy had a devastating effect on the merchants and pastoralists’ economic and trades system, which in turn reduced the level of household’s food security. Many coastal people were forced to migrate to the country side where new administrative centers and military garrisons had been established. While many independent  operators in the  fishing sector and pastoralists flocked to seek employment as laborers at the Hafun (Xaafuun) Salt factory, which was built by an Italian company in 1929 and later destroyed by British naval bombardment in the Second World War-19941.

The two Sultans and their families and relatives were forcibly deported to Mogadishu to avoid internal resistance and rebellion in the territory. The exiling of paramount chiefs to the south, and the destruction of  political structures forced a large section of the population to migrate to Mogadishu and beyond. As though this policy were not enough to dissolve the system and  deplete the manpower strength of the Northern Regions, the Mussolini’s fascist government had  taken further punitive action: conscription of more than 15,000  pastoralists to the Ethiopian War in 1934-1936 from these regions. The war survivors settled southern regions (Bay, Bakool, and Benaadir) which further emasculated the regions of their manpower.


c)     Post-Sultanate Administrations:  

The successive administrations in the 20th Century- Italy's Fascist Government 1925-1940, British Military Occupation 1941-1950, UN Italian Trusteeship Administration 1950-19960, Somali Governments 1960-1990- did not allocate any meaningful development projects to northern regions. As a consequence of this neglect, the peoples’ life remained stagnant with increased emigration rate to southern regions. A cynical name given to these regions was “Gaariwaa” which means “unreachable”. In fact, before the Military take over in 1969, government civil servants that were transferred to northeastern regions were given additional monthly allowance called “hardship incentive” because of the regions ‘Gaariwaa’ status. Very often civil servants transfer to these regions was considered to be a form of punishment.

 Those northerners who settled Benaadir  and beyond- including two Prime Ministers, 1960-1967--had invested their effort in the southern regions for over a century, and had lost, as time passed, the sense of belonging to ancestral land.

 Cyclical droughts, environmental degradation  and water scarcity had reduced the coping capacity of the pastoral population on whom economic production depended. These political and environmental negative factors relegated the northern regions to permanent underdevelopment and as a consequence  the people continued to  languish in permanent poverty.

 The first recorded major drought in these regions  took place in 1868 "  where  a large portion of inhabitants….died of starvation" (referred by B.Miles: a British naval officer from Aden residency who visited the NE in 1868).


2.        Impact of the  Civil War

 The dissolution of the Somali State in January 1991 has produced unprecedented chaos and anarchy that fragmented the country into clan-held enclaves. Mass migration of people to their original clan territories has created political and security upheavals in all regions of Somalia. The Northeastern regions (now Puntland) have been flooded by displaced people, which dramatically changed the demographic pattern both at urban and rural areas. The resources and services were not sufficient to cope with the increased pressure of the new comers’ need (Food, shelter, employment, health provision, drinkable water, education service, etc). Thanks to the mutual support system of the Somalia’s extended family, the internally displaced people have survived the destitute conditions though increased needs for more resources still preponderate. 

 While the influx of the people  to Puntland made tremendous pressure on the available resources, it has, nevertheless, contributed to economic growth through the introduction of skills and capital, development of private enterprise, improvement of social services by returned professionals and- above all- people driven processes of peace-building and development of political institutions (establishment of Puntland State of Somalia [1998] as regional administration).

  In the first eight years of the Civil War a viable administration has not been possible to be established . The Somali Salvation Democratic Front-SSDF- was the only political entity that served the regions in maintaining internal security and external defense (North Mudug). Although the three regions (North Mudug, Nugal and Bari) had each established a very weak, non-functioning administration in their separate ways, yet the  real power rested with two competing elements: the clan elders who assumed a greater political role after the state collapse and SSDF leaders who claimed to wield the real power. They have painstakingly succeeded to coexist in managing the political and security situations that prevailed prior to the creation of Puntland State of Somalia in July 1998. During this period they  faced two challenges: the Gaalkacyo war in 1991,1992 and Ittihad clash with SSDF. Both challenges were successfully tackled in favor of SSDF, which further raised its political and military posture among the ordinary people. 

 However, the dogged power struggle of SSDF leaders r (Qardho Conference 1995) and the many failed Somalia’s peace conferences had frustrated people and solicited their clan elders to intervene in the building  a new political structure other than SSDF.

 Despite these difficulties, the clan elders and SSDF leadership succeeded to set aside their differences and called a general political platform (May 1998) in which participants were drawn from all Harti Clans in the area. The outcome of this was the creation of Puntland Sate of Somalia as an autonomous region but an integral part of Somalia.

 The conference developed a transitional chart which established three branches of Government: Legislative (Golaha Wakiilada), Executive (Golaha Xukuumadda) and Judiciary (Hay’adda Garsoorka). The Executive branch ‘s responsibilities are carried out by the Council of Ministers headed by a President and 9 Ministers. Each Ministry has its own administrative structure (offices) in all regions and districts. The duration of the government mandate is three years effective July 1998.

 The provisional chart stipulates  a number of democratic principles including decentralization of political and administrative powers for local communities as self-managing entities, but the current effort is mainly directed towards maintaining law and order, curbing internal conflict and forestalling external challenges.

 The creation of Puntland administration has brought about many benefits which include: sustained security, elimination of militias by integrating them into  the law enforcement institutions, strong political confidence of the people, improvement of taxation and revenue system, modest provision of services to communities, enhanced cooperation with international community.

Despite this modest achievement, Puntland is faced with political and security challenges emanating from Sool and East Sanaag issue. Many politicians from both regions are members of respective states institutions (Somaliland and Puntland), and the population is divided on the sovereignty issue.  It is important for the contending administrations (Somaliland and Puntalnd) and the people of these regions to find a peaceful solution to this issue. My preoccupation is that the present status quo on the issue may evolve, without the intention of either side, into internal conflict of the concerned communities.   Another security challenge may stem from Gaalkacyo town which has been a bone of contention where the two communities (Habargidir and Daarood fought fiercely in 1991, 1992. A peace agreement was reached in 1993, but political hostility and security problems have been continuing between the two communities for the past five years. The solution of this matter is invariably linked with the general settlement of the Somali conflict.

 It is in such a context and historical background that WSP Pilot Project was implemented in Puntland (NE) and Puntland Development Research Center (PDRC) was created as a local successor body


3.        WSP Pilot Project in NE-Puntland : 1997-1999

 Since its inception in January 1997, the War-torn Societies Project has accomplished the following programs:

       1. A preliminary survey on each of the three regions, i.e. Bari, Nugal and North Mudug was conducted in a participatory action research (PAR) to compile a profile from each region on various issues, such as political, social, security and economic rebuilding. This process/ strategy was called: Regional Notes. A final report was produced on the survey at a workshop held in Bosaso on March 15, 1998.  Five Entry Points were developed on Regulated Economy, Essential Services, Militia Integration, Governance and Gender.
     For each Entry Point three interactive/ participatory action research workshops were held at different locations in the three regions, both at pastoral and urban settings. A two-day final workshop for each Entry Point was held to review content, format and style of the final research document. The Working Groups were selected from those who participated in the Entry Points workshops. In total more than 1,370 participants from different categories and groups of people attended this participatory Action Research process in 18 workshops. The Project Staff held more than 25 meetings during the PAR. The outcome of this Pilot Project was recognized by all stakeholders as a good research product.      
The WSP Pilot Project not only enhanced understating of key, strategic issues in Puntland's reconstruction and development,, it is also introduced an innovative new forum for popular awareness of participation in public policy issue. 
The project closing meeting was held in Garowe, on 30th and 31st of October, 1999 in which the representatives of stakeholders participated including the President of Puntland State of Somalia, UNDP Rep Somalia, the Director of War-torn Societies Project International and USAID Office Somalia.
     2- The Successor Body: PDRC
With the encouragement and support of  WSP, a group of partners in the research process thought of a more permanent, local institution to rebuild upon the success  of WSP work  and to promote popular participation in the rebuilding process. With this common purpose in mind, they came together to establish Puntland Development Research Center-PDRC.
 Assistance to the communities and the government of the Puntland State of Somalia in addressing the pressing problems of social, economic, political and security nature through Participatory Action Research, government and community collaboration, and developing locally based information system.

At local level, PDRC's objective is to direct its activity to strengthen urban communities' capacity in the rehabilitation and development activities, and to promote dialogue between concerned groups and awareness raising of the pastoral and nomadic population to access political and democratic participation in the country's reconstruction programs. This shall be effected through Participatory Action Research conducted on interactive methodology.
At international level PDRC will establish and consolidate mutual relation and partnership with War-torn Societies Project International, donors and other interested institutions (international women organizations, academic institutions, interested groups, Somalis in Diaspora, etc.) through information sharing activities and cooperation.
     WSP Aftermath.

The first paragraph of the Workshop's Discussion Paper outlines the conditions necessary to establish a Successor Body. The list of the prerequisites is quite exhaustive. While in Somaliland WSP  has established SCPD right away with full staff on the ground, in Puntland the operation and the program conception has been the other way round: A Pilot Project in which activities were hastily carried out, it was  an experimental research. Owing to lack of fund, even befeore PDRC was instituted with a new director, the project's core staff was disbanded, program budget ceased and the operating expenses reduced to unsustainable level. The Puntland Development Research Center was born under such an unfavorable condition which frustrated the working groups' positive expectation and PDRC's initial enthusiasm.
In the first four months, the new director was engaged to review and complete the WSP Draft Papers which in turn slowed down PDRC's speed to take off the ground. I am not blaming anyone for the slow progress, I know  WSP project has been financially weak in the first half  of this financial year and could not reasonably provide us with sufficient resource.
Despite these, some very important activities have been accomplished which include:  
  •  PDRC Statutes was established by the Support Group/ De Facto Board; 
  •  Presidential Decree was issued recognizing PDRC as an independent, Non-profit making organization with a tax-exempted status in the territory of Puntland;
  • Legal registration of PDRC with the Court;
  • Obtaining government support through concession of land and facilities on which to build PDRC's  future offices;
  • Prepared work-plan and budget for the years 2000-2001 and circulated it to potential donors, Somalis in the Diaspora and friends, 
  • With the help of WSP Nairobi, held the first donor meeting for financial assistance in May 2000 though fund has not been so far received;
  • hired the Research Coordinator;
  • Advertised for  hiring two researchers pending availability of fund 
  • Started developing Financial Management procedures and staff regulations, 
     Depending on availability of fund,  activities for the coming 12 months will consist of three principal elements:
         1 Participatory Action Research .
         2. Strategic Development Planning.
    PDRC Institutional Development
         Sustainability of the Successor Body: PDRC
    Sustainability embraces many indicators. They may include, among other things, the following:
  • Permanent source of funding
  • Resource mobilization from potential donors (local, international) 
  • Sufficient qualified  staff committed to the program success
  • Capacity to generate revenue from research contracts
  • Government blessing of the program (favorable political environment)
  • Program relevancy to development and reconstruction;
  • People's perception of the program (its validity, benefit and coverage- horizontally and vertically).
  • Program effectiveness in contributing to social change, democratic participation in governance at local and central level;
  • Scale of program's balancing between modern, traditional and religious view of governance-temporary accommodation of contradictions under one program. In this case harmonization of the three institutions should be the final goal. Scale of information networking with similar institutions locally, international organizations and academia.
         The list could go on.
        How can we prepare such a base on which to build a sustainable institution?
         Which  can we look for potential source of  support?
 1. Community:

 The majority of the Puntlanders still staunchly believe that central government should provide entire needed services, and be responsible to decide on all matters that affect their political and social life. The tenacity of this "dependence syndrome" in the minds of the ordinary people genuinely reflects the way colonial and post colonial administrations monopolized political and management powers and barred citizens to participate in decision making process both at urban and rural settings.

 2. Government:

 The government of Puntland, though  it had provided land and facilities to PDRC,  it has not come up  with assistance in cash contribution. It is understandable, because Puntland administration has not, at this point in time, yet acquired financial capacity and spare resource for local NGOs programs. It seems, on the contrary , that local administrations  would expect development fund from NGOs both international and local.

 3.        Somalis in the Diaspora.

 The  PDRC's profile, program and Plan of Action had been circulated to many Puntlanders  in the Diaspora asking for contribution. The response was just encouraging though sporadic, disconnected and often slow. They are not well aware of the reality on the ground as they are far off from Somalia. Furthermore, they should satisfy many competing needs at the host country and  in Somalia (remittances for relatives)

 4. International Donors:

 The PAR  based  and oriented program seem to many donors not achieving direct  benefit to communities. The term "Research" still sounds to be standing for , in many donors perception, as an  exercise leading to produce research report intended for academics and international development actors alone without clear benefit for grass-root level communities.  Yet, these donors are the ones we should rely for sustaining PDRC, at least for the first five years of the institution's life. 

 In conclusion, I would say that no institution would be self-sustained/ or sustainable in Puntland, or for that matter in any region of Somalia, if it is not supported by donors and  international aid agencies for many years to come.

Abdurahman Abdulle Shuke
Director, PDRC



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