Somalia: Infrastructure, Bottom-Up!
Infrastructure determines the success of economic development. It fuels manufacturing, agricultural activities and trade. Somalia is no exception; most economic activities are centered on urban clusters with better roads, buildings and bridges.
The Special Financing Facility for Local Development (SFF-LD) supports the construction and reconstruction of new and damaged infrastructure in Somalia. Supported by the World Bank through the Multi-Partner Fund (MPF), the project gives communities and local institutions the opportunity to choose, design and implement infrastructure initiatives. SFF-LD is managed by the federal Ministry of Finance.
Somalia has the potential to become a regional trade hub due to its vast coastline that connects Asia and Europe. However, according to several infrastructure and economic development rankings, Somalia falls last. Insecurity is often cited as the main cause. Nonetheless, lacking infrastructure plays a major part in this perception.
This project is unlike other infrastructure initiatives in two ways. Firstly, it has wider geographic reach. SFF-LD targets 13 out of 18 regions as they existed before 1991, as well as beginning to work with the emerging Federal Member States (Puntland, Galmudug, Hirshabelle, South-West State, Benadir and Jubbaland) to ensure that all regions benefit from constructed and/or rehabilitated infrastructure. “It’s important that all Federal MemberStates] are included and funds are allocated in equitable and fair manner”says Ali Haji Aden, the Project Coordinator from the Ministry of Finance.
Secondly, the project has proven that the grassroots approach to infrastructure worksas a successful model where local administrations and communities jointly collaborate in identifying priorities for their locationsThe approach utilizes community consultation in conducting a context and stakeholder analysis, community/resource mapping and needs assessment. This demonstrates that communities have the absolute choice of determining their priorities and the kind of infrastructure project in the district they prefer within the region.
To date, the program successfully financed and is implementingtwo infrastructure projects in tworegions, namely Hirshabelleand South West State.Two additional infrastructure projects will be identified in December 2016.
Participation for Success
SFF-LD has proved that the Ministry of Finance has the geographic reach and the capacity to implement crucial infrastructure projects in Somalia. The project has also proven FGS’ ability to have strong intergovernmental relations.
One example of the participatory, intergovernmental approach is the quarterly Steering Committee (SC) meetings. The Committee convenes in the capital to provide operational guidance including the approval of work plans and provide advice onadjustments to program management and operations in light of lessons learned.
“We should give priority to local contractors to do the infrastructure works so that the local economy can also benefit from the project”, says an SC member from one of the Federal Member States”
The SFF-LD Deputy Project Coordinator SuadEgaladdresses this issue, stating that “the procurement of works are done through competitive process where bids are widely advertised in international and local media outlets including postings on regional administration boards in order to have a fair competitive process that is in compliance with government procurement rules”.
Ali Haji, adds that “from previous programs, the implementing partners that successfully won the construction bids were from the local regions and this should not be a concern if qualified local contractors bid for the works.” And th
In the 2ndSC meeting in November 2016, H.E. Deputy Minister of FinanceMahmoud Hayir Ibrahim joined to greet the teams from across Somalia. He said “I’m very happy to see the faces behind the success” after watching the video of last year’s successes (above). He praised their efforts, adding “the entrepreneurial successes in Somalia, despite lacking infrastructure, is a testament of Somali resilience”.
For the project to succeed,Regional Project Officers (RPOs) were recruited. They liaise with the Ministry of Finance as focal points for SFF-LD. They will be responsible for coordinating and monitoring the sub-project reporting to the PIU of progress, potential risks and improvements while coordinating with the sub-project oversight committees and the Regional Administration.The RPOs have wide ranging experience, including accounting, economics, ICT, engineeringand social sciences. One RPO even lectures at universities.
While they were in Mogadishu, the RPOs were trained by the main implementation team on monitoring and evaluation, procurement and communications, project management and reporting requirements. The training gave the RPOs the opportunity to get to know each other, and give advice to each other.
Abdirahman from Hirshabelleconcurs: “people often have high expectations when they hear that the Ministry of Finance is involved. These expectations can be easily managed if they’re given the right information.” Hassan from Jubbaland emphasizes that different groups have different needs, saying that “marginalized groups such as women, children and minority clans should always be encouraged to take part in decision-making.”
The RPOs joined the project in November 2016, but some have already witnessed the impact of the project before they joined the team. “SFF-LD is supporting the rehabilitation of the courthouse in Kismayo. I wanted to join the team that was behind it all”, says Hassan from Jubbaland.
Other RPOs see the potential of improving and expanding infrastructure in Somalia.Mohamed H. Barre from Puntlandwants to “increase the capacities of local communities and increase the standard of living”, whereas Abdirahman from Hirshabelle sees infrastructure as a portal for “safer passage of goods, and ultimately a decrease in prices.”
The main benefit of having RPOs is the public confidence they bring with them. Ali Sheikh from South-West State: “people in my community will know that the Government isn’t only in Mogadishu, and that FGS cares about regional economic growth and local communities as well.”