An area in which the Somalia Stability Fund (SSF) has seen a lot of success has been the financial contribution made by communities towards SSF funded infrastructure projects. Community contributions have been crucial for generating ownership of project assets and activities. Through co-financing of the project, communities feel more invested in the activities, which in turn has resulted in communities having greater ownership over infrastructure. This can promote cohesiveness in the community and also, importantly, lays the groundwork for sustainability. Communities are involved in the handover and maintenance of infrastructure developed through SSF projects, and with communities financially invested in the project and its outcomes, they take a leading role in ensuring project assets and infrastructure are sustained and maintained after the close of the project.
Some of the best practices to emerge from our work on community mobilisation are the importance of ensuring all segments of the community are involved in decision making and resource mobilisation. This requires thorough and representative consultation. Convening over shared priorities not only helps communities and government to identify stabilisation priorities, but also helps bring communities together. SSF projects have taken particular steps to ensure women, youth and members of traditionally marginalised groups are meaningfully involved in project selection and mobilisation. For its stabilisation projects, SSF ensures that 30% of all community project funding goes towards project’s selected by women to ensure their specific needs are met. In Hobyo, women had to travel to Galkayo if they had complications during birth and as a result maternal death had been very high. Women in Hobyo prioritised the rehabilitation of a health centre and construction of a maternity ward to address this. Women are also often key contributors to resource mobilisation efforts, generating significant contributions to the project. So too are the Somali diaspora, who invest heavily in community development initiatives like these. Having mechanisms in place to facilitate diaspora contributions, as SSF did with DRC on the DIALOGUE project through the Sokaab platform, has been critical.
Projects like these can also create an important opportunity for local government. In our Balanbale project, the District Commissioner took a lead role in mobilizing the community to generate contributions for the project. This helps to get the local government working closely with the community and enables them to be more attuned to community needs and priorities. This helps increase public confidence in the government. Similarly, the community becomes more aware of the government and their role in local development. In the case of Balanbale, the local administration donated the land for the project. In Hobyo, the District Commissioner was able to use a community project as an entry point to connect with the community. By involving the government through these projects, it builds the legitimacy of the government, but also trust among the communities that Government can provide public services to communities engendering accountability.