Active participation of women and young people in peacebuilding is key to forging social cohesion in Lower Shabelle

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Mogadishu (Onkod Radio) – 28 June 2022, Community members, including women and youth groups, met in Marka for the “Promoting Inclusive Action in Peacebuilding” (PIAP) project which aims at fostering social cohesion and reducing conflict over natural resources among targeted communities. The groups discussed the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders to ensure successful implementation of the project. Marka, the targeted district, has the potential to be one of the region’s food basket due to its highly productive agricultural areas. Investing in inclusive and sustainable conflict resolution mechanisms is one of ways to reduce intercommunal violence and promote joint economic development in the district.

Implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and funded by the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) Gender and Youth Promotion Initiative (GYPI), the project started in January 2022 and is expected to run until June 2023.

“Youth and women are untapped catalysts for peace in Somalia, and this project gives them that platform, along with innovative digital tools, to improve resource management and governance to address some of the underlying causes of conflict,” said FAO Representative Etienne Peter Schmitt. “FAO and IOM have a history of collaboration and joint-work. In Somalia, we each present a strong opportunity to leverage our respective strengths and experiences, particularly in Southwest and Southern Somalia,” he added.

Promoting Inclusive Action in Peacebuilding among communities

The PIAP’s main goal is to reduce inter-communal conflict over natural resources. The project will support young people and women from all clans and sub clans in Marka district to lead in the development of inclusive and participatory resource management, and governance mechanisms. The project explores how FAO and IOM can support communities to address existing and emerging challenges to peace in the digital age, with increase in the frequency of climatic disasters, and, simultaneously, identify innovative opportunities to transform conflict in Somalia.

The project is facilitating the youth-led joint prioritization of water and canal infrastructure via gamification, the process of using a basic mobile application and feedback mechanism (developed by FAO in coordination with IOM) to generate healthy competition between mixed clan groups of existing, self-mobilized Youth and Women Associations that span across the canal network. The groups enter into a challenge to rank public works according to their ability to realize peacebuilding outcomes and inclusivity. Feedback generated from the activity will be channeled to an online platform operated by a local implementing partner for real time monitoring. The Associations will then merge and divide themselves into mixed and inclusive teams to develop proposals for the top priorities together with local irrigation committees and farmer cooperatives.

“Supporting women’s and young people’s participation in natural resource management across groups with historical grievances is a key priority for IOM to deepen economic interdependence among rival clans. The PIAP project promotes peace, reduces displacement, and enhances the resilience of communities who have been impacted by conflict for decades,” said IOM Chief of Mission, Frantz Celestin. “IOM and FAO have extensive experience working with communities in Lower Shabelle, and this collaboration capitalizes on both organizations’ expertise and strengths in the region, “he added.

Thanks to PIAP’s innovative approach, young people will be able to overcome historic and persistent collective action problems that have inhibited the coordinated management of natural resources across clan lines.

“This project is critical to promote participation and leadership of women and youth in Marka, acknowledging the important and positive role young women and men can play in reducing conflict over natural resources and promoting social cohesion”, said PBF Coordinator for Somalia, Joerg Stahlhut. “Through the Gender and Youth Promotion Initiative, the PBF seeks to advance the implementation of the Secretary General’s Seven-Point Action Plan on Gender-Responsive Peacebuilding and the women, peace and security and Youth, Peace and Security agendas,” he added.

Young women and men in the canal zone have demonstrated the willingness and capacity to be agents for sustaining peace through cross-clan interaction, which can be bolstered by facilitating interdependent livelihoods and revenue streams from the joint ownership and management of key water resources and infrastructure.

In Somalia, IOM’s Community Stabilization program addresses the multifaceted drivers of instability caused by conflict and climate change to support communities and the Somali Government to restore peace and lay the foundations for a longer-term, sustainable recovery. IOM does so by designing and implementing activities that restore trust horizontally between communities – meaning rebuilding the social contract between conflicting groups – and vertically between communities and government authorities in newly recovered and displacement-affected areas. Likewise, FAO is committed to ensuring the relevance and appropriateness of its programmes in meeting the needs of the people of Somalia. This involves working with various stakeholders, including communities targeted, in designing and supporting programmes that are inclusive, effective and evidence- based. FAO’s work is informed by relevant global, regional, and national frameworks, including the ninth Somalia National Development Plan (NDP9) and the FAO Somalia Country Programme Framework 2022- 2025.  FAO, working closely with key partners like IOM, is committed to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, and all programming contributes to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

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