After over 32 years of conflict and political instability, much of the existing infrastructure has been damaged. Even worse, before the warfare began, the country could not overcome the effects of over 150 years of colonialism that left the country with half-baked and insufficient infrastructure.
Over the last three decades, the common narrative has been about constitutional reforms, peace-building, and political stability. Little discussion has been made on what happens with the delipidated and destroyed infrastructure. In other words, a more critical question missing in the ongoing debate over post-conflict reconstruction in Somalia is where the country should start rebuilding. Understandably, the periodic conflicts between different groups continue to make it difficult for the elected leaders to decide whether the country is still in battle or a ‘post-conflict’ era. That debate aside, the question of infrastructure development is one that relevant authorities must have at some point.
This essay highlights some of the concerns and best practices experienced in other post-conflict reconstruction environments. A rapid review of evidence on best practices in most post-conflict infrastructure reconstruction by policymakers, academics, and NGO practitioners shows a massive recurrence of unsuccessful reconstruction sources. The literature points to the importance of planning and coordination amongst donors and implementation partners while considering the local dynamics. Donors should be prepared to provide enough funding to meet the community’s needs and offer support over the long term. It is essential that the local people play a role in planning, implementation, and evaluation and that both the government and population support the process. Peace is crucial to the success of post-conflict reconstruction; ensuring a secure environment enables the other techniques in post-conflict reconstruction.
Several post-conflict reconstructions have focused on re-establishing macroeconomic structures; however, this often enhances the corruption of elites and does not benefit the wider society. This essay identifies several areas that can be improved. Somali’s post-conflict reconstruction depends on the local authority’s ability to understand the complexities of the political environment, especially those that can undermine progress, coordinate projects effectively, and involve a wide range of community stakeholders; to achieve beneficial social and economic change, consultations among key stakeholders with a direct relationship to the project. That is critical to ascertain what they perceive as essential components of project planning systems and processes. There is a lot of criticism of post-conflict reconstruction processes for the lack of adequate planning, resources, funding, and an exit strategy. International implementing agencies like the UN often bring their organizational policies and operating procedures rather than developing them for the context. However, involving locals in the planning, implementation, and evaluation is imperative, as it ensures local ownership and that the projects are supported. The changing post-conflict dynamics also influence the perception of projects; therefore, donors and implementing agencies must remain flexible in project planning and implementation.
Secondly, the country should be wary of infrastructure projects suffering from low-quality design and sub-standard construction. That can be due to a failure to consider the local conditions, needs, and capacities. But more specifically, when reconstruction begins, it comes with tremendous excitement that sometimes leaves the population not focusing on the quality but just wanting to see the project’s completion. Similarly, the issue of focus and timing is very critical. For one, there is a common trend that in the early years after the end of a conflict is formally declared, there is much publicity and international goodwill, which leads to an increase in aid in the first years. However, this initial enthusiasm, and the assistance and support that comes with it, begin to wane in the later years. The decline in support is counter-productive and leaves the country in difficult situations.
There is often insufficient funding to meet the post-conflict reconstruction needs, and local-led projects are often sacrificed. It is often the case that local mechanisms independent from those led by donor communities be improvised to cover all eventualities. Somalia is considered one of the poorest nations in the world; the country has not had a functional government for almost three decades. The country established a permanent federal government backed by the international community only ten years ago. For many years, Somalia did not have good infrastructure and development sources; it would need even much bigger money. The state is also economically dependent on foreign aid, remittances, and livestock. Sustainable development goal 9 indicates that infrastructure and development are the crucial part of the SD to achieve long-term growth and proactivity.
To conclude, by answering the question, where should Somalia start in its post-conflict reconstruction? The most appropriate answer is planning, planning, planning. That is the process in which the relevant actors will identify the urgent infrastructure needs of the country, the source of funding, limitations in the availability of funds, means to ensure public participation, methods of ensuring accountability, and quality control on the standards of the projects, that will address the questions of legitimacy, equality and inclusivity are all part of the planning process. Once planning is done, the implementation of the projects will be much more effective.
About The Author: Dr. Mohamed BINCOF (Ph.D.), Lecturer, Consultant, and Researcher. You can reach him at email: firstname.lastname@example.org