Emilia Pires on Somalia’s ‘homegrown’ approach to country ownership

    A Somali artist works on a painting of Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud. The country will launch this week countrywide consultations to support a homegrown paradigm that will guide the direction of foreign aid for years to come. Photo by: Stuart Price / AU-UN IST / Albany Associates / CC BY-NC-ND

    Somalia is set to take charge of its own reconstruction efforts, launching this week countrywide consultations to prop up a new, homegrown paradigm that hopes to set the direction of foreign aid for years to come.

    The fledgling country is following in the footsteps of other nations belonging to the so-called g7+, a group of 19 fragile and conflict-affected states bonded by a desire to draw attention to the real context of countries struggling with war and violence from the perspective of those experiencing it first-hand. The g7+ pioneered at the Busan aid effectiveness summit in 2011 a groundbreaking document outlining country-owned development and a new aid architecture that takes into account the situation and challenges of fragile states.

    So how can this be put into action? By promoting the “homegrown” approach to development that Somalia is taking, g7+ chair Emilia Pires told Devex in an exclusive interview.

    Development challenges of fragile states like Somalia must indeed be addressed by solutions that are “homegrown, uniquely country-owned and understood,” added the East Timor finance minister and member of the U.N. High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Framework. “If you have 64 donors all with different ideas and solutions, you have a mess, if you have 64 donors all supporting your vision and plan, you have a recipe for success.”

    And this is precisely how the Somali government wants its future development to look like, especially beyond 2015 — increased determination to keep reconstruction efforts country-led, with all the top donors on board.

    Country-owned development

    Pires explained how in the past she observed aid organizations and institutions coming into fragile states with imposed solutions which she said were often found ineffective.

    But since then, she noted, there have been “big improvements” as development partners appear to support more the growth of state institutions and local capacity.

    For instance, in her native East Timor, the g7+ chair mentioned how the government last June met up with the country’s top development partners to review all cooperation projects in terms of country ownership and their alignment to East Timor’s strategic development plan.

    Pires however pointed out that fragile states still have three compelling needs which development partners need to address: peacebuilding and statebuilding, effective management of national resources, and leadership of development partnerships.

    “We say there can be no peace without development and no development without peace — otherwise you build a school and children are too afraid to go, or you build a clinic only to see it burned down,” she added.

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    About the author

    • Johanna Morden

      Johanna Morden is a community development worker by training and a global development journalist by profession. As a former Devex staff writer based in Manila, she covered the Asian Development Bank as well as Asia-Pacific's aid community at large. Johanna has written for a variety of international publications, covering social issues, disasters, government, ICT, business, and the law.