Case IV: HESPI provides support for understanding Federalism in Somalia

Concrete Results of HESPI Institutional Capacity Building in IGAD Countries



Case IV

HESPI provides support for understanding Federalism in Somalia

As part of institution building, as well as strengthening and improving local governance, devolution arrangements and decentralization has been a policy priority for many post-conflict countries. Effective and inclusive local governance arrangements are essential building blocks to peace building in post conflict situations. A decentralized local governance is crucial for delivering a peace dividend and promotes administrative and financial independence of local authorities as decisions are made at the closest level to affected communities.

Hence, as part of its institutional capacity building, HESPI initiated dialogue on fiscal and other aspects of federalism (with financial support from the ACBF) among the Somali stakeholders.  HESPI played a pivotal role in initiating, guiding and creating a Somalia Federalism Network (SFN) to foster a decentralized governance system.

HESPI supported the institutional federal system building through:

  • Assisting the stakeholder to understand the prevailing state building context by conducting focused regional scope studies on the foundational basis of federal governance, fiscal federalism and decentralization, which provided applicable options for the Somalia federalism.
  • Organising events to bring together diverse groups of Somalis including from the diaspora, policy makers, academicians, prominent researchers on federalism and decentralization including from the sub-region and beyond, as well as representatives of the federal government, regional states, and civil society representatives to seek viable options on federal governance.
  • In the process, HESPI conducted the following series of events to initiate and nurture the federalism discourse to maturity: 
  • A conference on Somalia Federalism in August 2014 in Addis Ababa to provide relevant options of federal models for Somalia. The event laid out ways for future decisions on devolution of power, regional state formation, and types and modalities of fiscal federalism and resource sharing.
  • A federalism forum in Djibouti in December 2015 which addressed horizontal federal relationships, building key institutions at all levels of fostering federalism; division of expenditure responsibilities; resources and power sharing; and division of taxation powers. The forum addressed the multi-step federalism processes to implement essential measures.
  • A Consultative Meeting of the SFN at Entebbe, Uganda in May 2016, for key decision makers and conducted in-depth discussions on issues of inter-governmental relations under cooperative federalism. The event also offered platform for devising concrete strategies for the country’s pursuit of an optimal federal governance model that serves, foremost, the national interest and leads to equitable and sustainable resource sharing.
  • A study on “Fiscal Federalism and Decentralization in Selected IGAD member countries” was presented at the consultative meetings; and at a public policy forum. The study covered divisions and arrangements of power sharing, efficiency of generating revenues, intergovernmental transfers, and sharing of the national budget in federal systems.

As a result of these series of events:

  • Cooperation and dialogue among regional States and the Federal government of Somalia are enhanced.
  • Old perceptions that “Federalism state building will disintegrate Somalia” are being changed and knowledge is spreading on viable and effective federalism in Somalia.
  • Constituents are being empowered with evidence-based research; and horizontal and vertical communication promoted for consensus building.
  • More contentious issues like division of powers, exclusive powers/functions, concurrent powers/functions and residual powers are being understood and articulated.
  • Baseline studies on the status of state formation and their constitutional readiness for membership is being facilitated by the SFN on various regional states.