Somalia’s Political Transition and USAID Forward Implementation

By Prudence Ukwishatse
posted on May 4, 2013 in Economics and Finance, Global Development, Politics and Society

YPFP's Africa Discussion Group recently held a discussion on Somalia’s political transition and the USAID Forward Implementation in the Horn of Africa, featuring Larry Meserve, USAID’s Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA) and a former USAID East Africa Regional Director. Mr. Meserve, a long time development practitioner, has spent most of his career working with USAID for the African people. Joined by 20 young professionals in a discussion at the Atlantic Council, Mr. Meserve offered his input and expertise as YPFP members questioned him on a variety of topics. They discussed how USAID works to address key challenges and support capacity building initiatives in Somalia, while fostering good governance and promoting economic growth and recovery.

Mr. Meserve said it may take years to develop the nation. However, the United States' recognition of Somalia's new federal government on January 17, 2013, will allow more foreign aid to flow into the country. After two decades of unsteady and ineffective transitional governments, the United States, the United Nations, and the international community acknowledged the many political and security milestones achieved in Mogadishu: a newly elected parliament; the election of President Hassan Mohamud as President and Abdi Farah Shirdon as Prime Minister; the election of a Speaker of Parliament; a ten-member cabinet of ministers and the historic appointments of two women into senior level positions including Ms. Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Development and Maryam Kassim as Minister of Social Services.
Somalia’s new federal government will benefit from official recognition. It creates the opportunity for Somalia to develop new partnerships with USAID and other development organizations in the United States and the international community. In his first visit to Washington DC, President Mohamud met with President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and was the guest of honor at several events, including the guest speaker at the Center for Strategy and International Studies (CSIS). President Hassan also spoke to members of the Somali diaspora in Minnesota, which is home to the largest Somali population in the United States. President Hassan outlined his government’s agenda in his "Six Pillar Policy,"  a 6-point framework to rebuild the country’s institutions. The President’s priorities include: improving security and establishing an environment of stability; rule of law and good governance with a good justice system; national economic recovery; peace-building; public service delivery; national reconciliation and improving Somalia's international relations.
Mr. Meserve stated that, although the government achieved important milestones during its transition, there is a long journey ahead and the country faces numerous challenges:
1. Continued insecurity within the capital of Mogadishu and the outskirts by the terrorist organizations such as al-Shabaab;
2. The deeply-rooted, clan-based society, and the question of how to integrate these different groups into a federalist system of governing;
3. A constitutional referendum and ensuring that the new constitution protects the rights of all citizens and provides for the well being that the Somali people deserve;
4. President Hassan’s request that donors support a New Deal compact under the Fragile States approach to help support Somalia's political and economic transition;
5. The protracted humanitarian crisis, and the question of how the government can ensure basic social services to the people of Somalia;
6. The relationship between Somalia and the self-declared autonomous region of Somaliland, as well as the autonomous territory of Puntland;
7. The government's efforts to rebuild the nation's private sector in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration, USAID, and the Somali diaspora;
8. Improving the country’s infrastructure and strengthening the resiliency of livestock, agriculture, and food security to prevent future droughts and famine; and
9. Forming a democratic, transparent, and accountable government which is not a mere transplant of the United States, but instead reflects the Somali people.
These are just a few of the challenges facing by the Somali people. With initiatives such a civilian-military partnership through the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), and the warning response system Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWERN) whose efforts are to gather and share information regarding potentially violent conflicts in the region are just two of many ways the U.S. plans to use agencies such as USAID as implementing partners in the efforts to rebuild the nation of Somalia.