Change is in the air in Somaliland

Change is in the air in Somaliland: Featuring interviews with Abdijalil Dahir Afqarshe, Guileid Ahmed Jama and Zainab Hassan, find out how we are working with partners to support the implementation of SDG16+ in Somaliland

Access The Complete Report here:  Building a peaceful,  and inclusive Somaliland: SDG16+ priorities for action

Hopes are high in Somaliland after a largely peaceful presidential election in November 2017 ushered in a new government pledging to launch development initiatives to improve the lives of Somalilanders

This appetite for change is giving rise to new, innovative campaigns to improve the lives of people in Somaliland. Three areas in particular are gaining traction with decision makers and galvanising civil society – the focus on eradicating female genital mutilation (FGM), making justice accessible for all and the move to increase women’s participation in politics through gender quotas.

These advances in building a more just and inclusive society in Somaliland have been hard-won, but there is still fierce opposition to all three initiatives from some parts of society. To overcome this resistance, it is important that the groups championing these different issues work together to create a movement bigger than the sum of its parts.

This is where the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) come in, providing a framework for connecting these issues. More importantly, the SDGs already have buy-in – not only of the Somaliland government but of the governments of every member state represented at the United Nations.

Somaliland’s future: a global approach

Because the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes a central commitment to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies (mainly through SDG 16) progress on these three issues fits within the global development agenda. Other SDGs that contribute to peaceful, just and inclusive societies – such as SDG 5 on gender equality – form part of a wider group of targets called SDG16+ and have allowed seemingly separate issues to be linked.

Earlier this year, Somaliland launched its new National Development Plan (NDPII) which is based on the SDG framework, and which incorporates many targets relevant to SDG16+. These targets still need to be matched with locally relevant indicators – something which SONSAF and Saferworld will support the Ministry of Planning to develop. This forward-thinking approach that uses the SDGs as a basis for much-needed reforms in Somaliland’s governance sector is an important sign that the government is taking its national development goals seriously.

Having laid the groundwork, there is now a real window of opportunity to advance SDG16+ in Somaliland. In the run-up to the presidential elections, Saferworld met with the three candidates to highlight the benefits of the SDG16+ agenda in promoting peace, justice and strong institutions, and to discuss how the next government could ensure its implementation. Each candidate promised that, if elected, they would ramp up engagement on SDG16+.

In August, SONSAF convened a workshop in Hargeisa with civil society leaders to explore the role of the SDGs in Somaliland. Participants debated what they felt should be priorities for their country, with many of them concluding that SDG16+ must be at the heart of Somaliland’s future development.

Since then, Saferworld has been working with a diverse group of Somaliland non-state actors to explore further opportunities for SDG16 engagement and to begin to build coalitions to support implementation. While awareness of the SDGs is on the rise and civil society actors are beginning to see its relevance for Somaliland, much still needs to be done. Throughout November and December, Saferworld is supporting SONSAF to hold a series of consultations to identify the priorities of non-state actors across Somaliland, which they will then present to the new government.

The growing recognition of the value of the SDG framework in Somaliland, together with initiatives to eradicate FGM, provide access to justice for all, and to increase women’s political participation, all point to the potential of SDG16+ to lead to lasting change in Somaliland.

In November, Somalilanders went to the polls to elect a new president. Winning 55 per cent of the vote, Mr Muse Bihi Abdi of the Kulmiye party is now responsible for implementing the NDPII. By embracing the 2030 Agenda, the new government has the opportunity to be at the forefront of SDG16+ implementation in the Horn of Africa and an example for the world.

Source: Saferworld