Programme vision

A Somalia in which a strong social contract is based on the meaningful inclusion of communities in decision making; effective, accessible, and trustworthy state institutions; and in which the contribution of women, youth and minorities is evident in socio-political and economic life.


Somalia has seen a sustained period of political and institutional progress. Despite these improvements, insecurity continues to destabilise the region. Today, over one million Somalis have been displaced by conflict and famine. An economy of violence based on terrorism, extortion and trade in illicit drugs interweaves economic, political and social life.

Interpeace has worked in Somalia for nearly three decades to support and advance statebuilding and peacebuilding processes. Interpeace’s programme in Somalia focuses on social cohesion and legitimate governance through transitional justice and advancing citizen engagement in governance, conflict prevention and management.

Somaliland: traditional elders embrace mental health and psychosocial support

Integrating MHPSS into Somalia’s peacebuilding and transitional justice efforts is crucial for sustainable peace and human development. Based on a study conducted by the World Health Organization, it is estimated that one out of every three Somalis experiences mental-health challenges.

Interpeace’s Miisaan programme, made up of a consortium of diverse partners and which aims to enhance locally informed transitional justice processes in Somalia and Somaliland, recognised the urgency of bridging knowledge gaps and embarked on a journey to transform the community perspectives on mental health. In one illustrative example of success, the turning point came during a traditional-elder training event in Hariirad district in July 2023. The training created awareness that many individuals who have endured the traumas of conflict require specialised support to effectively engage in transitional justice mechanisms.

The transformation in Hariirad is ongoing, a journey marked by newfound awareness, compassion and the courage to confront the stigmas and challenges of mental health, highlighting the significance of mental health as an integral component of sustainable peacebuilding.

Personal journey

In Hariirad, a town that serves as a bridge between two clans in Somaliland, traditional elder Abdi Hassan has come to recognise the importance of addressing mental-health issues in his community. For years, the prevailing understanding of mental health was often confined to traditional and cultural aspects, leaving the equally important clinical and psychosocial dimensions in the shadows.

Abdi Hassan and his fellow traditional elders, the custodians of local peacebuilding processes, participated in Interpeace’s training. Their honest reactions unveiled a significant challenge: the unrecognised struggles of community members dealing with mental health issues. For years, these challenges were masked, resulting in the exclusion of people with trauma and grievances from the peacebuilding processes as the elders failed to recognise the deeply rooted mental-health concerns that lay beneath.

Amina Ahmed is a mother of two living in Hariirad who silently battled mental-health issues for years. Her journey had been marked by isolation and misunderstanding, as the stigma surrounding mental-health issues kept her suffering in silence. However, as Abdi Hassan and his fellow elders embarked on their path of enlightenment, they encountered Amina’s story. Through open dialogue and deeper understanding, they recognised her silent struggles and the importance of addressing mental health and psychosocial well-being. Amina’s challenges and her healing journey became a beacon of inspiration for the community.

Amina, once shrouded in isolation, is now treated differently. Her community, led by Abdi Hassan and his fellow traditional elders, has begun to embrace her with empathy and support, recognising the significance of mental health as an integral component of sustainable peacebuilding.