Aid Groups Voice Concern Over New Somaliland NGO Law

Aid workers and some donors have expressed concern that certain provisions of a new law governing the work of non-governmental organizations in Somaliland could undermine humanitarian operations in the self-declared sovereign state.

NGOs and donors said they support the law’s principles, which include ensuring that NGO activities complement the Somaliland government’s development priorities and improving transparency and accountability. But they are “very concerned” about some vague wording in the law and the practical effects of some of its provisions, IRIN News reports.

“We hope the authorities will further legally clarify those paragraphs in the law that are vague, which opens the potential for abuse and confusion. We hope to work with the authorities to better support the development goals of Somaliland and we will continue to assist those in need of humanitarian assistance,” the news agency quotes Tanja Schümer, an official of the Somalia NGO Consortium.

Several NGOs and U.N. agencies working in Somaliland have written to the government to express their concerns, which an official from a major bilateral donor said his government also share, IRIN reports.

International groups in the region are particularly worried about an article in the law that prohibits foreign NGOs from becoming “implementers for other international NGOs and U.N. organizations working in the country.” Saad Shire, Somaliland’s planning and coordination minister, said the provision bans foreign NGOs from “subcontracting a project designated for the country from a UN agency present in the country.”

“The aim is to encourage international NGOs and UN agencies to work with local NGOs and local businesses for implementing projects, giving them the opportunity to build their capacity and the experience to take on major projects after the international NGOs leave,” Shire said, as quoted by IRIN.

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  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.