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Somalia: Engaging Grassroots Traditional Governance Initiatives

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Somalia has not had a strong central government since the collapse of the military regime in 1991. This has led to two decades of lawlessness, destruction and displacement causing the decay of all public institutions, continued violence, failed peace talks, “warlordism”, chronic famine and food insecurity, and, in the recent past, piracy and religious extremism.

Mercy Corps does not run stand-alone governance programs in Somalia but since 2005, when we first set foot in Somalia, the organization has mainstreamed governance into development programs to revitalize grass roots home-grow institutions and find solutions that work specifically in Somaliland, Puntland and other regions.

Mercy Corps has focused on enhancing the capacities of these indigenous structures and initiatives to contribute to peacebuilding, emergency response and provision of basic services like education and water to rural and urban poor communities. Work with indigenous structures in Somalia has also created employment opportunities for youth. Mercy Corps embraces the principles of “Do No Harm” in all its programming in Somalia by building the capacities to disengage; and uses grassroots, “bottom-up” approaches to build capacities of local communities to engage in dialogue with each other and officials.

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Traditional Governance Initiatives in Somalia

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