In the aftermath of the war, a new organised civil society has emerged in Somaliland and Puntland. These organisations have played an important role in the recovery and stabilisation process. Civil society organisations have been active development agents through the implementation of projects that aim at improving social and economic conditions for the population. They have also been important for the development of policies for the two semi-autonomous regions. The contribution of civil society organisations have been particularly important in the Somali context, as the regional authorities have limited access to economic resources and lack human resources to overcome the enormous challenges the two regions face in the recovery period.

Nevertheless, many civil society organisations are still weak in terms of management and technical capacity. Capacity building of our local partners is therefore an important part of our work. We provide training in financial, organisational and programme management, as well as in technical areas we or some of our other partners have specific competence in. We also support our partners’ policy work, where we draw on experiences from other national or international policy processes.

Somali women, particularly in rural areas, have few opportunities to influence decisions that affect their lives and the surrounding society. There are few income opportunities, and women are in general expected to assume many responsibilities and role, which deprive them from participating in other activities outside the household. To contribute to women’s economic, social and political empowerment, we focus particularly on income generating activities for women, organisation and actions that enable women’s participation in decision-making. One important approach is to support the organisation of women in saving and loan groups, and cooperatives. We provide training in management of the groups, training in entrepreneurship and development of small business plans and provide additional seed funds to women can access credits to start small businesses. The businesses may be on individual basis, or several women go together to set up businesses such as mills or processing of dairy products. In addition to contributing to women’s economic empowerment, saving and loan groups and cooperatives are important meeting places where women can discuss common challenges, create awareness and support each other to reduce gender based violence and harmful traditional practices such as FGM. By managing their own businesses, women also gain social respect at household and community level, and they can demonstrate their capacities beyond housekeeping. Awareness raising on gender equality at community level is crucial for increasing women’s participation in decision-making. We also provide capacity building in gender mainstreaming in projects and at organisation level to our local partners.

We also support the organisation of farmers and agro-pastoralists in community-based organisations, through which they can strengthen their influence in local and regional development processes, as well as their bargaining power. The community-based organisations can be farmers’ cooperatives, community seed banks, local development committees or other grassroots organisations.