Image by European Union/ECHO/Thorsten Muench
  • Report
  • 16 February 2021

Supporting longer term development in crises at the nexus: Lessons from Somalia: Chapter 7

Conclusion and recommendations

chapter 7

For over 30 years Somalia has experienced a complex mix of political instability, frequent conflict, and violence and cyclical environmental (and now, disease-related) shocks, driving protracted internal displacement and widespread vulnerability. The scale and intensity of crisis in Somalia and its political relevance to international security agendas has meant it continues to be a priority country for most donors and agencies. The political transition in 2017 has opened doors to shift from a purely humanitarian and stabilisation context, lacking legitimate or functioning government structures, towards recovery and longer term development as government capacity develops.

Below are recommendations drawing on this research for strengthening the effectiveness of development actors in Somalia in addressing risk and vulnerabilities and building resilience, recovery and peacebuilding, and lessons that can be drawn for other contexts. These recommendations are intended primarily for international development actors – working specifically in Somalia and globally.

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Strategy and partnerships

There should be a focus on federal and state government capacity for service delivery

IFIs are changing the landscape and embracing risk by testing approaches that provide finance through government systems in parallel with supporting the government with financial reforms. This should be scaled up cautiously; it is vital for donors to collectively manage risks of corruption and political competition and impacts on conflict, including by supporting the national treasury to ensure accountability in financial management.

Donors should support Somalia’s political settlement and promote a decentralised model of service delivery in government-held areas, alongside strengthening public financial planning, management and accountability mechanisms. It will be important to navigate ongoing uncertainties and political tensions around the functions of different levels of government. Genuine institution-building must be a clear part of this ambition – going beyond secondments and short-term approaches to invest in long-term capacity development at different levels of the government as collectively prioritised by international actors and the government. Developing governmental capacity across the country is a long-term effort and donors should find ways to address the immediate needs of vulnerable populations concurrently. The World-Bank-funded safety net programmes are example of this. Donors should also work with non-state actors, including NGOs and the private sector, to develop their capacity to strengthen governance and accountability.

While to date the focus of development partners has been on state-building, there must now be greater emphasis on supporting the government to play a greater role in service delivery and ensure the most vulnerable populations are prioritised in resource allocation, in line with the SDGs and NDP9. Many donors set out development priorities in their country strategies and guiding documents. As the FGS builds capacity for service delivery, the World Bank and other development partners should ensure their partnerships and dialogue with the FGS prioritise service delivery, social protection systems, livelihoods, economic development initiatives aimed at expanding the government’s fiscal base, and other interventions necessary to achieve medium- to long-term solutions to achieve the SDGs. This could include benchmarks that focus explicitly on social outcomes in accountability and country partnership frameworks, such as the development of a social registry recently proposed by the World Bank. Adequate staffing of ministries focusing on social development at federal and state levels will be key. It will also be crucial to ensure that donor non-crisis financing to infrastructure and economic development is conflict sensitive, and that providing the government with finance has been assessed in term of its impact on conflict. The establishment of Somalia’s federal structure is an opportunity for development partners to expand technical and financial support to government-led service delivery at the state and municipality level, although it will be important to navigate uncertainties and political tensions around the functions of each level of government.

Localised responses should be scaled up through financing and capacity building for Somali NGOs, with the inclusion of private sector actors

Local and national NGOs are well established in Somalia, having played a key role in humanitarian responses since the drought in 2011 and in advocacy on the localisation agenda. The establishment of NGO consortia, for example through BRCiS, SomReP and RE-INTEG, and the move to increase the participation of Somali NGOs is positive. However, to further localisation commitments made at the World Humanitarian Summit, a change in the way that donors approach and finance partnerships with local NGOs is needed. Somali NGOs should be included in consortia from the outset and involved in decision-making and management structures. Donors should consider options for scaling up direct funding to Somali NGOs through pooled development funds, learning from similar humanitarian funds (e.g. the Country-Based Pooled Fund). Scaling up capacity-building programmes for Somali NGOs and strengthening third-party monitoring structures will help to manage associated risks of partnering with local NGOs, as will plans to establish an NGO office and code of conduct. Local private actors also play a key role in delivery (e.g. in cash programming) and should be included in capacity building and financing considerations alongside local and national NGOs.

Coordination, planning and prioritisation

Organisational change should take place to deliver the nexus, not just informal collaboration

Our research found that UN agencies and NGOs with mandates encompassing humanitarian and development (and sometimes political or peace) were better able to coordinate programming than those with a more limited mandate. Nonetheless, even within donors and agencies with encompassing mandates, humanitarian, development and political portfolios or programmes were often handled by different teams, with limited systematic internal cooperation. This highlights that collaboration, coherence and complementarity between HDP actors may require a fundamental review of organisational mandates and a process of organisational change, which will require strong leadership. This should break down silos in planning processes and budget allocation, create formal coordination mechanisms or re-organise humanitarian, development and political teams (e.g. around sectoral or geographic area based priorities). For agencies where clear separation is regarded as necessary for safeguarding humanitarian principles, building complementarity and information-sharing should be sought as a minimum.

Existing coordination mechanisms and development plans should be better aligned and built on as the basis for identifying shared outcomes and strengthening coordination among HDP actors

Somalia has an elaborate aid architecture, in which humanitarian and development actors have separate structures for coordinating among themselves and with government. While there are some examples of coordination across the HDP nexus, this is not systematic. There are multiple coordination platforms at the federal, member state and district levels, which could be better aligned and inclusive of actors that are currently not well represented (such as peacebuilding and private sector actors). Regular joint analysis, drawing together expertise from across the HDP nexus, is not yet the norm, although the latest UN Common Country Analysis is considered a good example.

Given the complexity of existing coordination mechanisms, there is little appetite in country to establish new standalone nexus coordination structures. Ideally, existing coordination mechanisms and development planning processes should be built on to better link up HDP actors around joint analysis, planning and the implementation of collective outcomes. The UN has taken the lead in nexus coordination and planning and collective outcomes initiatives, and there is limited engagement and ownership by the government and key development players, including IFIs. While four collective outcomes were agreed by a group of humanitarian and development actors in 2018, the extent of buy-in among non-UN actors for their implementation is unclear and there is a lack of ownership by development actors.

For nexus collaboration to be effective, leadership and buy-in is required from both development and humanitarian actors, with government. The UN and World Bank should play such a role, formally leading strategic nexus coordination and planning and shared outcomes initiatives, in line with the IASC Light Guidance on Collective Outcomes, jointly with government counterparts. Coordination should go beyond UN actors, and be as inclusive as possible while still functioning effectively.

The NDP9 and accompanying cooperation frameworks could provide a strong basis for coordination between government and all international actors, but they are currently more effective at coordinating development and security actors and have not managed to bring together the full range of HDP actors. The new aid architecture under NDP9 is starting to be operationalised and provides the foundation for the recently signed UN Cooperation Framework. The new nexus coordination mechanism proposed by the UN should seek to complement and support these nationally led coordination efforts.

There has been strengthened coordination of development and humanitarian actors working on health as a result of the Covid-19 response. This success could be built on across sectors, and area-based programming models that are strengthening coordination at local levels could be scaled up. Sub-national HDP coordination mechanisms could be established with the involvement of government, depending on the context.

At both national and sub-national levels it is, however, vital to maintain separation of humanitarian coordination and the independence of the Humanitarian Country Team. This is particularly important for assistance to states where conflict is active, where areas are controlled by non-state armed groups, and where coherence is not an option, both practically and to safeguard humanitarian principles. In certain circumstances, the humanitarian sector’s duty to respect the humanitarian principles of neutrality and independence in order to access people in need must take precedence over greater collaboration across the HDP nexus. Establishing mechanisms that bring together HDP actors should therefore complement and not replace separate humanitarian coordination mechanisms.

Donors should reconsider funding and system requirements to provide greater incentives to work collaboratively across the humanitarian, development and peace sectors

Entrenched ways of working and a lack of incentives to collaborate across the humanitarian, development and peace sectors can be a barrier to implementing nexus approaches in practice. Funding is a powerful incentive, and donors should create an environment conductive to collaboration and innovation. Channelling greater volumes of funding through joint programmes or pooled funds can help, as can sharing clear expectations on nexus commitments with all recipients of core and programme funding and supporting partners’ staffing capacities. Flexible funding is key to allow partners the space to iterate and innovate, but at the same time clear requirements and accountability to ensure that partners will make connections within and between themselves are needed.[1] Donors should explore how this can be built into contracts without restricting partners or adding to reporting burdens.

Consensus should be sought on the opportunities and limits to collaboration in stabilisation or active conflict settings

In Somalia and elsewhere, the most challenging aspect of the nexus is understanding how peace and humanitarian components align. Humanitarian actors accept the principle of ‘do no harm’ (as a minimum) or conflict sensitivity (as a maximum) and have begun to integrate social cohesion or peace components into their programmes. However, there are clear limits to how humanitarian action can and should be joined up with development and peace initiatives that have clear political or security objectives. This is particularly true in areas of active conflict or where counter-terrorism or stabilisation efforts are ongoing, given the importance of safeguarding humanitarian principles. Dialogue is needed between humanitarian and political, peace and security actors on the opportunities, limits and principles for coordination, and systems for communication and information-sharing should be strengthened at a minimum.

The government should be supported to establish a shared data system on vulnerability and poverty that embeds tools for inclusive monitoring and evaluation; however, this should not replace independent humanitarian assessments and data

While agencies produce their own data to inform programming, there is a need to join up data systems as a prerequisite for collaborative programming and identification of outcomes between HDP actors. International actors should support the government to develop national data systems on disaster management, recovery and social protection to inform sustainable and collaborative responses to the immediate and longer term needs of crisis-affected populations, and transparent standards for data management. Data systems currently managed by international actors (such as FAO’s Early Warning Dashboard and FSNAU) should be embedded into these national data frameworks in the medium to long term, coupled with related investment in government institutional capacity development. Such data systems should also capture qualitative indicators on community perceptions and embed this feedback into mutual government and international monitoring frameworks.

Joined-up data and assessments are often necessary for collaborative programming and are appropriate in areas where government structures are strong. In other areas, independent assessments and the protection of humanitarian data is vital for safeguarding humanitarian principles. In these contexts, information sharing and complementarity may be possible where collaborative programming is not. Appropriate joining up of assessments and programming is thus highly context specific and varies across Somalia.

Programming approaches

Community-level resilience and peacebuilding approaches should be scaled up and run in parallel to longer term national efforts

Humanitarian agencies have developed innovative resilience programmes over recent years, making significant yet small scale progress at the community level. For greater impact and reach these should now be scaled up based on learnings from successful programmes (e.g. BRCiS and SomReP). In the longer term, resilience approaches should be embedded more holistically into national efforts to address structural sources of vulnerability and poverty, including national frameworks for shock responsive safety nets, social protection and livelihoods. This will require greater development investments in what has traditionally been a humanitarian-led resilience agenda in Somalia, although the need for parallel complementary humanitarian and development-led programmes will continue in the medium term. This will also depend on a range of sub-national contextual factors including the capacity of and trust in local government structures, the local conflict context and access. Community-based peacebuilding and conflict-sensitive recovery approaches should be scaled up and run in parallel to longer term national efforts. Donors interviewed highlighted the need for resilience to be embedded more holistically within national priorities on safety nets, social protection, food systems and livelihoods.

Durable solutions programming should increasingly be led by development actors

Much progress has been made on the durable solutions agenda for IDPs in Somalia, including buy-in from government and donors. Given the nascent government structures and reliance on parallel humanitarian delivery systems, humanitarian actors have largely led programming in this area. For greater sustainability there is a need to transition leadership and reporting lines to the government and include a broader set of development actors in durable solutions outcomes. Using development finance for this purpose will be a key part of this, scaling up investments from IFIs and mobilising the private sector to strengthen access to finance for displaced communities and small-to-medium enterprises.

Financing toolsThe SDRF and multi-partner funds should be reviewed and reinvigorated as mechanisms to enhance coordination and flexibility

The SDRF was established to address the legacy of fragmented and project-based aid by providing a common governance framework for three aligned trust funds set up to pool donor contributions. The SDRF is not yet used to its full potential, however, and donors continue to channel much support bilaterally and outside of government systems. Donor confidence in the UN MPTF has waned, with a preference to earmark funds and channel ODA through bilateral funding agreements where overhead costs are lower. The World Bank MPF, which has supported government capacity, economic opportunity, policy dialogue and alignment of development assistance to national development priorities, has made incremental progress and is looking towards working at a greater scale. While much smaller, the Somalia Stability Fund is an agile, flexible and context-driven pooled fund that can potentially be built on. Pooled development funds in Somalia need to maintain a focus on addressing the structural causes of vulnerability while also supporting responses to emerging or short-term crises. This could be done through increasing funding to existing programmes financed by pooled funds while working with donors to address concerns around transparency and accountability. To enable trust funds to provide funding flexibility there is a need to protect funds from earmarking in alignment with donor’s own political ambitions. To avoid this, a vulnerability criterion for allocation of trust funds could be agreed, and a flexible funding window could be created within the trust funds. Further decentralising the management of these funds through nationally situated and staffed mechanisms is also likely to enable greater alignment to local needs, understanding the context, flexibility and cost effectiveness.

Flexibility and contingency financing should be embedded into development programmes

Contingency financing mechanisms are vital for enabling a timely response to crises but are not yet systematised across development actors, with most progress to date in humanitarian contingency financing. Contingency financing mechanisms, such as crisis modifiers or internal risk financing models, should be embedded into development programmes as standard practice in the planning phase. Development actors should enable a high degree of budget flexibility to re-allocate funds in response to changing needs, with decentralised authorisation and reduced earmarking underpinned by coherent country strategy, planning and budget processes that include humanitarian and development support.

Shock-responsive mechanisms should continue to be embedded into national safety nets and social protection programmes to enable them to be scaled up in response to cyclical environmental shocks. In time, as government capacities are strengthened and trust is built, bilateral aid programmes and direct country partnership frameworks between the government and donors are likely to increase. To ensure that these donor development interventions are crisis responsive and conflict sensitive, it is important to embed contingency financing mechanisms into these country partnership frameworks. This could help strengthen access to contingency risk and crisis finance mechanisms at the national level to complement and better connect country-level strategy with global decision-making associated with dedicated global crisis financing modalities.

Covid-19 has demonstrated that the speed of responding to unforeseen crisis is crucial; rapid finance is important, but so is the ability to plan and deliver quickly (e.g. pre-agreeing response priorities with partners based on risk assessments, managing stockpiling and pre-identifying supply chains). Donors should review and capture learnings from the Covid-19 response and how the speed and scale of response, risk and due diligence are balanced in future crisis financing. Donors should provide flexible funding to respond to Covid-19 and food insecurity issues while addressing long-term socioeconomic impacts and chronic displacement. Operational partners need flexibility to re-programme funds and adapt projects as the pandemic evolves and is compounded by food insecurity caused by continued desert locusts and shifting climatic patterns. Funding re-programmed for short-term Covid-19 responses should not be at the expense of the multi-year funding essential to address longer term socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic on displaced populations and address chronic displacement issues.

Strengthen evidence on the impact and comparative advantage of global crisis financing mechanisms

The World Bank and other development finance institutions, notably the AfDB in response to Covid-19, have established a range of global crisis financing modalities that are now benefiting Somalia. As of 2020, Somalia met the requirements for accessing the World Bank’s IDA Crisis Response Window, which is funding the Somalia Crisis Recovery Project and the Emergency Locust Response Programme.

While partners receiving these global funds are extremely positive about their added value, there are questions regarding the impact of these crisis financing modalities, specifically on vulnerable populations, highlighting the need for greater evidence on lessons for broader uptake. The World Bank, UN, AfDB and partners should consider ways to document and share publicly evidence of impact. For stronger alignment with local needs, contextual relevance and local ownership, decentralising the management of these global funds to regional and national levels should be considered. For this, senior analytical capacity on conflict and resilience and the appointment of senior staff with decision-making autonomy at country level will be key.