Armed clashes, droughts, water shortages – Sool region, located between Somaliland and Puntland in Northern Somalia, has had its fair share of challenges. Talo-Wadaag is a Somali word which means ‘sharing advice’. It is a community-driven development project which aims to support representative and responsive local governance, conflict resolution and mitigation of conflicts. Implemented in Lascanod in Sool region and Buhoodle in Togdheer region. The initiative is led by a steering committee supported by the Danish Demining Group (DDG) and the Stability Fund.
In July 2015 for example, a violent conflict erupted at Dharkayn-Geenyo districts, 70km southwest of the region’s capital, Lascanod. The violence caused by a land dispute resulted in injuries and the death of three people. The steering committee quickly responded by providing logistics support to Lascanod and Buhoodle council of elders who were part of the mediation committee. The committee’s mediation efforts resulted in an immediate ceasefire agreement that was signed by both sub-clans. Efforts did not end there: to ensure sustainable peace, the steering committee facilitated that continued presence of the council of elders in the conflict zone for twenty days to try to address the root causes of the conflict and to prevent the conflict from re-igniting.
The steering committee also dispatched a peace caravan to Xudun district in Sool where two neighboring clans were on the verge of conflict. This endeavor was supported by the local authority, who provided an armed escort. The peace envoy managed to settle the conflict amicably.
The steering committee’s efforts were also instrumental in the resolution of a dispute between sub-clans in Qoriley district along the border of Ethiopia. The conflict resulted in 55 deaths, 71 injuries, and loss of property. A conflict resolution process was formed by Sool and Togdheer elders, traditional and religious leaders and elders from the Somali regions of Ethiopia, Puntland and Jubaland. Both the Mayor and Governor of Lascanod supported the initiative. “Without peace life is impossible” finds Abdirasak Garaad Soofe, a member of the council of elders. Thanks to the respect and legitimacy that the steering committee receives, the reconciliation process was smooth and led to a successful peace agreement.
The initiative also reinforced the importance of establishing a neutral steering committee that is comprised of respected community members to uphold peace agreements. Continuous trainings are provided in order to equip the community with skills to continue monitoring, documenting and encouraging mediation processes long before an escalation between conflicting parties can threaten the whole community.