Special Bilan Media series on the United Nations’ efforts to improve local governance across Somalia 

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Effective local governance is an essential part of rebuilding Somalia’s physical infrastructure and social mechanisms, much of which have been destroyed during decades of conflict and instability. The Joint United Nations Programme on Local Governance (JPLG) has played a key role in improving the way government is run at city and state levels. It helps to build roads, clinics, schools and other facilities, train government staff and improve the political representation of marginalised groups, including women. Journalists from Bilan Media have travelled across Somalia to assess the progress of some of JPLG’s work. Naciima Saed Salah went to Galmudug State and reports on JPLG’s activities in Adado district and other areas.

The JPLG has assisted several districts in Galmudug, including Adado, Abudwak, Balanbale, Dhusamareb and the southern part of Galkayo city. It has provided training and equipment to help some local governments improve service delivery in many parts of the state.

The manager of the JPLG projects in Galmudug, Salah Abdirahman, says the JPLG has offered consistent support to the state’s local governments for the past five years.

“We have supported Galmudug’s regional government by providing training for local councillors, district administrators, directors and other staff,” he said.

“We have really helped to improve the situation. The Galmudug government has always cooperated effectively with us. The JPLG does not interfere with the internal affairs of state governments or councils.”

The UN says that in Adado, the provision by JPLG of gravel and tarmac roads has facilitated travel and encouraged more businesses to open. Street lights have helped to improve security.

The training offered by the JPLG in Adado included sessions on administration and management, resource management and local government finances. Local council members said the new knowledge and skills they have acquired have helped them to make things run more smoothly.

Odawa Mohamed Da’ud is one of the oldest men on Adado’s council and has served for 10 years.

“I have a great deal of experience in running the council. I was very worried when new people were voted onto the council because I feared they would know nothing about what the work involved,” he said.

“However, the JPLG training enabled them rapidly to get up to speed so the council is functioning well.”

The second phase of the project was completed some time ago and partly involved the provision of equipment and training on how to use it. The Secretary of Adado council, Duraan Mohamed Ahmed, said some of the equipment needs to be replaced as it is now outdated.

“Four years’ ago, the JPLG provided desks, computers, printers and other office equipment to help the councillors carry out their duties. We can no longer use much of the equipment because it has become obsolete,” he said.

“We appeal to the JPLG to provide us with up to date equipment and the relevant training to enable us to use it.”

Nasteexo Ahmed Osmaan is one of the three women on Adado council whose 23 members were elected to the body on 9 August 2022. She says the training has helped in terms of getting to grips with how to use the technology, but she is worried that female councillors will find it difficult to work in local government.

“The council has not prepared a system that will work for women. We need our own space,” she said.

“The most important thing we need is a separate place to pray and rest.”

“Now we are obliged to be in the same room as men during all working hours. We need our own space to do our work and make our own decisions. We don’t have a place where we can prepare the documents needed by the council.”

Galmudug’s JPLG project manager, Mr Salah, says women are given special help.

“We provide special training for female councillors to help improve their management and other skills. We also provide training and awareness programmes to encourage more women to run for election to the local councils.”

Mr Salah said men and women had benefitted equally from the project.

“Everyone has the same rights. I don’t believe there is any discrimination in terms of the council hierarchies or salaries in the regions I work in. Workers’ salaries depend on their ranks, not their gender.”