Somalia is the only country in Africa in which the population have a common language and religion and who are ethnically and culturally homogeneous. Yet the country is characterised by conflict, and it has been without a functioning government since President Siad Barre's fall in 1991. The situation in the country has further worsened by regularly recurring humanitarian disasters related to drought and floods.
Somaliland, in the north of Somalia, declared full independence in 1991, while Puntland declared partial independence in 1998. Today, Puntland is to a large extent connected with extensive piracy, which many young people are drawn into because of high unemployment and a lack of alternative income opportunities.
The Transitional Federal Government, (TFG), currently controls only a small enclave in Mogadishu with considerable support from UNISOM (United Nations Operation in Somalia). TFG’s mandate expires in August 2011, however it has recently on its own extended its mandate for another 3 years without any broader consultations with involved stakeholders like the Somali population or the international community.
Norwegian Church Aid has been in Somalia since the first half of the 1990s, first in Gedo region and later in Mogadishu. We have been working in Puntland since the tsunami of 2004.
Water, sanitation and hygiene: Norwegian Church Aid provides the population in Gedo and Mogadishu with access to safe and sustainable drinking water by adopting various strategies such as rainwater harvesting, construction of underground tanks and various types of wells. Capacity building on sanitation and hygiene is also an important priority in order to avoid waterborne diseases.
Livelihood and trade: Norwegian Church Aid’s approach is twofold. Firstly, we seek to strengthen poor communities’ – and particularly women’s – opportunities to gain employment and access to food. Secondly, we work in Puntland to give former pirates an alternative to piracy. We do this through vocational training and business training. We also conduct general awareness raising and information campaigns among the population mobilising people to dissociate themselves from piracy, thereby reducing the recruitment base among young people.
Religious communities and peacebuilding: Through capacity building, Norwegian Church Aid supports religious and traditional leaders involvement in peace building and their position as good role models in resolving conflicts. Religious leaders are also central to the education and mobilisation work combating piracy in Puntland.
Women, peace and security: Norwegian Church Aid contributes to increase women's participation in peacebuilding by building women's capacity and raising religious and local leaders’ awareness of the importance of women's active involvement. Further, we are focusing on protecting women and girls from gender based violence by establishing local monitoring mechanisms along with religious and traditional leaders.
Education: In the absence of a government in South-Central Somalia that has the capacity to operate schools, Norwegian Church Aid currently contributes to 15,000 children having access to education in Gedo during the planning period. Access to education is a strong stabilising factor for the population, especially in the Gedo region, in addition to giving children and their families hope for the future. Norwegian Church Aid also supports some secondary schools and vocational schools.
Coordination through the ACT Alliance
Norwegian Church Aid is a member of ACT Somali Forum and is a founding member of the forum which brings together the various ACT members that are involved in Somalia. Currently, these members include Diakonie of Germany, Christian Aid, the Lutheran World Federation and Finn Church Aid.