Image by AU UN IST PHOTO / Tobin Jones
  • Report
  • 16 February 2021

Supporting longer term development in crises at the nexus: Lessons from Somalia: Chapter 4

Coordination, prioritisation and planning

chapter 4
Share section

Strength of coordination mechanisms

Existing coordination mechanisms at federal government and member state levels should be better aligned and strengthened

In Somalia, humanitarian and development actors generally have separate coordination mechanisms. Separation is sometimes necessary, for example to safeguard humanitarian principles, and this is especially relevant in situations of active conflict or in areas that are controlled by non-state armed groups. However, as a minimum, in these contexts complementarity and information-sharing should be sought. Where possible, in more stable states where government structures are in place and coordination does not threaten humanitarian principles, coherence and joined-up planning and programming should be a goal. For this, the establishment of coordination mechanisms that bring together HDP actors will be crucial, such as the proposed nexus working groups, working alongside and connecting humanitarian and development coordination mechanisms. Key to this success will be participation and buy-in of actors outside the UN, including the government and multilateral development banks.

The Humanitarian Country Team and Inter-Cluster Coordination Group provide strong formal coordination of the humanitarian response, although some interviewees report little engagement within the UN. While the government seeks to play a stronger role in humanitarian coordination, its capacity remains limited. There are also weak incentives for international partners to participate in formal coordination mechanisms, with interviewees reporting unhelpful and politicised interference from the government.

Government-led development coordination bodies are in place, with the Aid Coordination Unit coordinating pillar working groups and the SDRF under the New Deal and New Partnership arrangements. The SDRF also acts as the steering committee for the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund (UN MPTF), the World Bank’s MPF and the AfDB’s trust fund. Sectoral pillar working groups, chaired by government ministers, co-chaired by donors and supported by the UN, meet on a regular basis. These development forums and their associated sub-working groups are intended to encourage focused policy debate and information-sharing. Other cross-cutting initiatives also have an important role to play in supporting longer term efforts. The Durable Solutions Secretariat, for example, strengthens coordination between government and international actors on longer term programming in forced displacement contexts, offering lessons for broader uptake (see the ‘Programming approaches’ chapter).

Bilateral donors coordinate through pooled funding mechanisms and align their support with the pillars of the NDP9, although interaction between the Humanitarian Donor Group, Infrastructure Donor Group and the development-focused Somali Donor Group is reportedly minimal. This is, however, beginning to shift in the donor coordination groups for durable solutions and health, where efforts are underway to move from a primarily humanitarian donor membership to include development donors, such as the World Bank. This should become standard practice as appropriate to humanitarian principles and in more stable and government-controlled states.

While there are examples of positive coordination within existing structures, there is a lack of coherence and work across the spectrum of humanitarian and peace structures. This can entrench either development or humanitarian focuses, rather than fostering a common approach.

Initiatives to strengthen HDP coordination are underway but require leadership from both humanitarian and development actors

The UN has increasingly taken leadership to break down siloes, finalising the first integrated UN Cooperation Framework for Somalia as a basis for a joined-up approach. The framework is for UN agencies, but was widely consulted with government and other development partners. The UN has also led the process to develop collective outcomes. The UN and the World Bank have also worked together on development initiatives in crisis settings, including the Humanitarian Development Peace Initiative (HDPI), established following the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 to identify collective outcomes and deliver integrated responses in multiple crisis countries, including Somalia.

The UN is also in the process of establishing new structures to improve coordination between the humanitarian and development sectors, with the aim of operationalising the nexus approach. Some interviewees report that previous initiatives have largely engaged UN agencies with limited ownership among IFIs, government and other development players. To have a wider impact and buy-in, new nexus structures must include, and be driven by, government representatives and include IFIs and other key development players. Ensuring representation of federal member state officials and/or establishing state-level coordination structures will be vital to success, as will a focus on coherent and strengthened planning, programming and funding across HDP actors.

A lack of incentives to collaborate across the humanitarian, development and peace sectors can be a challenge to implementing nexus approaches.[1] Actors working across the nexus have different interests and incentives and tend to default to existing, separated ways of working. Taking a nexus approach requires HDP actors to work in new ways. However, the ‘path dependency’ established after many years of specialised humanitarian programming,[2] competition for resources, pressure from donors to produce measurable and timely results, and an institutional focus on avoiding fiduciary and reputational risk,[3] run counter to a spirit of innovation that enables nexus programming.

Stronger coordination is seen at the local level

Formal UN and donor coordination mechanisms are equally siloed between the humanitarian and development sectors in federal member states. However, coordination takes place at a practical and programmatic level between humanitarian and development actors operating in the same geographic areas. This is especially clear in community-based and area-based programmes, which facilitate dialogue and joint planning This approach has been used in durable solutions programmes targeting refugees, host communities and returnees holistically, in resilience and peacebuilding programmes (see the ‘Programming approaches’ chapter). For example, multi-stakeholder community action plans for durable solutions have been established at the municipality level in the cities of Baidoa and Kismayo through a collaborative effort between UN agencies, NGOs and municipalities, in connection with existing durable solutions programmes.[4]

There are some examples of coordination between Somali NGOs across the humanitarian and development continuum. The long-established Somalia NGO Consortium and an active and strong local NGO base play a central role. However, interviewees highlight earmarked funds and the hesitancy of donors to provide overheads and unrestricted funding as obstacles to their coordination capacities, as well as the high level of competition for resources, which may become worse as funding pressures increase as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The response to Covid-19 is beginning to break down humanitarian–development silos in coordination and planning

Strengthened coordination of development and humanitarian actors working on health has been a clear outcome of the Covid-19 response. The formation of the Somalia Health Donor Group has brought together humanitarian and development donors to coordinate responses to Covid-19, allocations of Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance) and the Global Fund, and health district programming. This donor group has sought to link short-term health assistance with the longer term priorities of the Ministry of Health. In addition, the EU delegation and European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) report that coordination between short and longer term activities is now an explicit internal priority, and that Covid-19 has accelerated this. Similarly, a joint donor working group is in formation for coordinating work on safety nets.[5]

The Covid-19 response has also strengthened humanitarian–development cooperation within the UN. There are informal networks in place, weekly reporting to UN OCHA and the federal government’s Covid-19 task force to share real-time information and response updates. Some interviewees argue, however, that coordination in response to Covid-19 has been more effective at a technical than strategic level (i.e. with the health system response to Covid-19 cases than planning to address longer term socioeconomic impacts or wider public health issues). The long-term response to Covid-19 is under development and is intended to be integrated into the UN Cooperation Framework.

Share section

Progress on joint or complementary planning and outcomes

Strengthening nationally managed data systems would improve coordination and government-led disaster management and social protection responses

While a significant gap in data and evidence continues to undermine opportunities for joint planning, as is the case in most fragile contexts, there has been progress in establishing data and reporting systems. The Somalia Aid Management Information System, managed by MoPIED, is evidence of this, and MoPIED has been working with the World Bank and the UN to map aid flows for three years.

Regarding drought response, there is a relatively strong data collection and analysis system in place that informs collective efforts. This includes the FAO Dashboard, the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and the Somalia Water and Land Information programmes, for example.

Data collected for measuring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is also improving, as evidenced by the recently completed UN Common Country Analysis 2020.[6] The World Bank supports the government to develop a social registry as the foundation for social protection programmes that can be used to inform joined-up humanitarian and development programming. The government is recruiting a Statistics Director to oversee national systems for data collection and analysis, which will support national capacities and ownership.

The real challenge, however, is the lack of coordination and transparency in the management and use of data. Fundamental to this is stronger coordination and information-sharing mechanisms between the government and international HDP actors. Integrating FAO and FSNAU data for early action in disaster responses into national disaster management systems in the medium to long term, coupled with investment in government institutional capacity development, will be vital to move towards a longer term development approach, such as the planned national emergency operations centre.

While joined-up data and assessments are often necessary for collaborative programming and are appropriate in certain contexts (such as Somaliland where government structures are stronger), in other contexts independent assessments and protection of humanitarian data is vital for safeguarding humanitarian principles. In these areas, 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. As data systems are strengthened, ensuring data protection and security will also be key.

Progress has been made in joined-up planning, but different mandates and disconnected assessments remain a challenge

There has been some progress in joining up assessments and planning. The 2020 UN Common Country Analysis is designed to be an independent, impartial and collective assessment of the situation in Somalia. The analysis is structured around the SDGs and informs the UN Cooperation Framework. UN agencies regularly share information on beneficiaries and do joint analysis on vulnerabilities between clusters. There are also examples of collaboration in assessments of priorities relevant to the HDP nexus. The UN, World Bank and the EU collaborated on the 2018 Somalia Drought Impact and Needs Assessment[7] and Recovery and Resilience Framework, which was led by the FGS, to assess the impact of ongoing drought on lives, livelihoods and sectors of the economy and identify preventative and sustainable development solutions to promote resilience to disaster risks and climate change trends. The needs assessment was explicitly designed to complement the humanitarian response plan and create a framework for humanitarian and development cooperation.

Interviewees suggest that joining up humanitarian and development programmes is easier within multi-mandate organisations than between agencies. Many multi-mandate agencies produce annual country programme documents or frameworks that include both short-term responses and longer term development activities, or otherwise link these two sectors. For example, UNICEF is links the quadrennial country programme documents, which focus on strengthening the government’s management of population issues (e.g. health and nutrition), with the annual Humanitarian Action for Children strategy. This includes joint planning among internal teams towards sustainable approaches to water provision, from water trucking to borehole rehabilitation and public–private partnerships. In some multi-mandate organisations, however, there are separate humanitarian and development teams that lack an overarching strategy, programmatic framework or unifying management structure.

While coordination mechanisms and complementary and regular assessments are prerequisites for joined-up planning and outcomes, the fundamental challenge is the different mandates and planning cycles for development and humanitarian actors. For example, in the case of the EU, DEVCO plans seven-year strategies whereas planning is undertaken on much shorter timeframes within ECHO, and decentralised decision-making is stronger on the development side. Changing this would require fundamental organisational and institutional adjustment. For some donors and agencies, reviewing mandates and embarking on organisational change processes is possible, although systemic change inevitably takes time. For others, separation is necessary for safeguarding humanitarian principles, and moving towards greater complementarity between development and humanitarian assessments, planning, budgeting, and decision-making processes should be sought as a minimum.

Progress has been made identifying collective outcomes for durable solutions in forced displacement contexts

The UN conceived the concept of collective outcomes as a starting point for HDP collaboration to address crisis-related vulnerabilities, in preparation for and follow-up to World Humanitarian Summit and the UN-IASC recently adopted Light Guidance on Collective Outcomes.[8] Within Somalia, a technical working group of humanitarian and development actors agreed four collective outcomes in January 2018.[9] However, interviewees report because the UN led the process with limited involvement of the government despite efforts to engage them, and because humanitarian data and needs assessments were the primary sources informing prioritisation, development actors feel less ownership over the outcomes. Agreeing outcomes that are broad enough to encompass the mandates of humanitarian and development agencies but specific enough for accountability purposes is a challenge.

Nonetheless, the process has created momentum to strengthen monitoring of results and accountability, particularly in relation to durable solutions to forced displacement where there has been substantial progress and involvement of the government. The ReDSS has been working with the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office to develop a set of outcome-level indicators (based on the IASC durable solutions framework) across the HDP spectrum to establish a common basis for monitoring progress in social cohesion and responding to the protracted displacement crisis – the Local Reintegration Index. The durable solutions programming principles endorsed by the FGS explicitly include commitments on joined-up HDP approaches and agreement of multi-stakeholder collective outcomes. The Refugee Self Reliance Initiative is the first global scored survey tool for measuring the progress of refugee households toward self-reliance over time. It was developed by RefugePoint and Women’s Refugee Commission, although it is too early to assess impact, learning and potential for its use elsewhere.[10]

The results framework embedded within the national development plan, which is reviewed twice-yearly, provides an opportunity to identify collective outcomes. A monitoring framework is in development to assess the mutual undertakings that drive the agreement. For greater coordination, there is a need to develop common tools and standards for monitoring and evaluation. Interviewees report that more could be done to systematically embed perceptions of local communities into monitoring frameworks and outcomes, and there is a need to close feedback loops through the inclusion of displaced communities in decision-making.[11]