Lesson Learning on Somalia Stability Fund’s Economic Development Portfolio

The Somalia Stability Fund (SSF) runs 17 economic development investments across the five federal members states (FMS) of Somalia that deliver projects seeking to improve socio-economic opportunities for communities, address the main drivers of conflict, such as structured exclusion, youth unemployment, promote social cohesion, and improve government and community engagement. Through these investments, SSF aims to deliver projects in the name of government, improving trust and government legitimacy in the eyes of the community and reducing incentives to engage in violent conflict.

SSF’s economic development investments are multi-layered, with structural support at the FMS and Federal Government level aimed at developing a national level strategy on human capital development and investments at the district level that are delivering public infrastructure to support economic development, strategic technical vocational training resulting in job creation and business development, improved access to finance and leveraging public and private sector stakeholders, particularly in the fisheries and agriculture sectors.

As the success stories in this newsletter show, these investments are already bringing benefits to local populations, such as high-quality trainings that are improving the productivity and resilience of agricultural production in Jowhar; improved business management in Xudur and employment in Baidoa; improved partnerships with the private sector (such as the partnership with Filsan seeds in Jowhar); and infrastructure investments that support livelihoods development (canal rehabilitation in Jowhar).

More broadly, midline findings from research completed across SSF’s economic development investments by Research Care Africa and Forcier Consulting found evidence that investment activities are already promoting social cohesion and improving the visibility of government in some locations. Improved social cohesion and improved livelihood opportunities are already a step towards reducing incentives for not just violent conflict but also migration, as explained in our story from Guri-ceel in Galmudug.

For example, in Guri-Ceel a woman trained at the Galgudud technical college supported by SSF’s partner Care, explained, “There are a lot of changes in our community since the project was implemented. Those who take part in the training come from different clan groups and different districts. We didn’t know each other before, but now we’re so close because of this training’.

Midline findings showed that across SSF’s economic development investments, stakeholders noted the active role of both the district administration, and in some cases the FMS, particularly in providing the ‘enabling environment’ for projects to be implemented, a first step in greater government community-engagement.

However, a key learning has been that despite increased visibility of government as a result of the project, this hasn’t always translated into improved perceptions around government legitimacy. Midline findings show that local communities are still wary of district administrations not elected by local communities and are pessimistic about the role that government can play in sustaining or leveraging on SSF investments, due to limited financial and human resource capacity.

In response SSF continues to flex and adapt its approach, exploring innovative approaches such as greater engagement of Government throughout the implementation of projects and sustainability initiatives that directly engage both the public and private sector.

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