Building food system resilience and supporting sustainable peace – A story from Somaliland

Despite relative stability, Somaliland continuous to grapple with multiple shocks and threats, including recurrent acute food insecurity and conflict over limited natural resources, especially grazing areas and water points in Sool and Sanaag regions. While livestock production makes up the backbone of Somaliland’s economy, droughts, land degradation and underdeveloped fodder value chains, severely impact food security, nutrition and overall well-being. Conflict in the region has driven food insecurity and conflict-induced hunger, by destroying agricultural land, farms and infrastructure, all crippling the economic stability. The recurrent need for humanitarian interventions demonstrates that resilience of the population and their food system is low, and responses are often not sufficient nor sustainable. Interventions to improve food security and nutrition can contribute to building resilience and maintaining peace.

Training on conflict prevention and resolution: A joint enterprise by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Interpeace

In 2020, Interpeace through its primary partner in Somaliland, the Academy for Peace and Development (APD), and in collaboration with FAO, jointly conducted a training aimed at building the capacity of traditional and local leaders in conflict prevention and resolution. This training formed part of FAO’s wider Food and Nutrition Security Resilience Programme (FNS-REPRO), which aims to employ livelihood and resilience-based approaches to foster peace and address food insecurity in protracted crises.

The conflict prevention and resolution training emerged out of the recommendations from a previously conducted multi-disciplinary context analysis, which helped the FAO Somalia team to identify the key conflict drivers in Sool and Sanaag, some of the least stable regions of Somaliland and among the worst affected by food crises.  The analysis underlined the competition over scarce resources (land, water and pasture) as a key driver. Traditional leaders and elders were identified as playing a key role in both the management and instigation of resource-based conflicts.

The training sessions took place over the course of six days and included over 30 participants, representing the local communities of Sool and Sanaag. It intended to strengthen participants’ understanding of conflict, to train participants in conflict prevention and resolution processes and increase their awareness on the need towards finding more sustainable solutions to conflict.  Following Interpeace’s participatory and inclusive approach, the training championed more inclusive approaches in the resolution of conflict beyond the role of traditional leaders and elders.

Interpeace's strategic engagement with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to enhance conflict-sensitive and peace responsive programming

The work in Somaliland is a recent activity as part of the strategic partnership between the FAO and Interpeace. In 2017, FAO and Interpeace signed a Memorandum of Understanding – renewed in 2020 - with the overall goal of developing, promoting and strengthening joint programmes and initiatives in support of FAO’s contributions to sustaining peace and conflict prevention. Based on this framework, FAO and Interpeace have collaborated, both at the institutional and field level, in the design and development of projects that are more peace responsive.

Interpeace’s work on peace responsiveness includes working with development and humanitarian actors to enhance their ability to operate in conflict-affected or fragile context to be more conflict sensitive and to deliberately contribute to peace through their technical programming. Based on a whole-of-systems approach, it advocates for all aid actors to start working on conflict in a way that enhances collective impact, across different fields or sectors, and focusses on already existing resilience and peace capacities in a society.



Partnership beyond projects: the importance of local ownership and trust

Interpeace and the Centre of Studies for Peace and Development (CEPAD) have worked together since 2007, supporting peacebuilding processes in Timor-Leste. Our partnership began in response to the violent political crisis of 2006, which revealed the challenges of a young nation adopting a new system of state structures. Throughout the years, we used Participatory Action Research (PAR) and piloted innovative approaches to assessing local resilience (Frameworks for Assessing Resilience) to help break cycles of violence and create a safe environment for the Timorese. This work enabled bottom up and locally owned solutions to be formulated, to identify and address local grievances in a non-violent and sustainable manner. CEPAD is now considered a “go-to” organization for peace and development challenges, and is recognized for promoting inclusive democracy by providing safe spaces for community dialogue.

In 2019, a case study of Interpeace’s long-standing partnership with CEPAD was developed as part of the Stopping As Success (SAS) initiative – a collaborative learning project that aims to study and provide guidelines on how to ensure locally led development and peacebuilding. The SAS initiative touches on many of the core principles Interpeace was founded on – local ownership, long term commitment, process-oriented work and the primacy of trust as a keystone to peace. ‘Success’ in locally led peacebuilding work can be defined in many ways, and an organizational or programmatic exit of an INGO or International Organization in lieu of successful and sustainable local organizations is one important indicator. However, a larger understanding of ‘success’ in locally owned peacebuilding ought to ultimately be about whether the broader social contract is moving towards peace. As peacebuilders, Interpeace and our partners always aim toward that ultimate goal.

In order to achieve sustainable peacebuilding processes that reinforce a peaceful social contract we have long known local ownership and not internationally driven approaches is key. While this has long been recognized, operationalizing local ownership of peacebuilding remains an ongoing challenge. That is why the SAS case study ,“Centre of Studies for Peace and Development (CEPAD) and Interpeace: A partnership transition in Timor-Leste, is an instructive example of the practical steps international actors can take to support the  efforts of a locally led organization developing locally owned and inclusive peacebuilding solutions.


CEPAD Timor-Leste. Photo credit: Steve Tickner 2009

CEPAD Timor-Leste. Photo credit: Steve Tickner 2009


Fostering local ownership through sustainable partnerships  

For over 25 years, Interpeace’s approach has made sure that local people are at the heart of building peace. We believe that peace must be built from within societies and not imposed from the outside. Therefore, from the outset of our partnership with CEPAD, we put our trust in our partners local teams  to lead the strategic management and implementation of project activities. Interpeace provided ongoing technical , financial and capacity-building support to CEPAD, since its creation in 2007. However, in 2015, Interpeace began a process to phase out its financial support to remain engaged with CEPAD solely in an advisory capacity.  While Interpeace provided financial and technical support as well as supported the development, implementation and evaluation of projects, delivered ongoing training to CEPAD staff, CEPAD was in the driver’s seat.

A CEPAD staff member mentioned, “Interpeace stopped the funds in 2016 but the relationship continued. Whenever we have any difficulties, we contact Interpeace and get their ideas and comments on our work and situations that we are facing.”

The case study developed by SAS captures how Interpeace’s approach – working with local partners and committing to long-term engagement – is critical to ensure sustainable peacebuilding efforts. It highlights that the trust that was built during almost a decade between Interpeace-CEPAD, helped both organizations as Interpeace transitioned away from providing financial support.

A number of key lessons were also mentioned by the case study: a.) strong leadership is an important factor when creating and sustaining an NGO that can operate successfully when financial support from an INGO partner ends; b.) adopting bottom-up, locally led models from the outset – as opposed to time-bound, top-down projects – contributes to a more sustainable transition process; and c.) it is possible for INGOs to find creative ways of continuing to support locally led organizations and initiatives after transitions have concluded.

CEPAD Timor Leste. Photo credit: Steve Tickner 2009

CEPAD Timor-Leste. Photo credit: Steve Tickner 2009

Read the full case study or 2-page summary

Read here for more on why local ownership is important for peace and for brief examples of tools and approaches to enable local leadership and ownership.

Local Leadership to Local Ownership - An Essential Element for Effective Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention

NGO Consortium members vote Interpeace to chair Somalia peacebuilding group

Members of national and international civil society organizations operating in Somalia have voted Interpeace as the chair of a multi-agency peacebuilding working group. The Somalia NGO Consortium made the announcement on 27 January 2020.

Somalia NGO Consortium (SNC) is a voluntary coordination mechanism of national and international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working in Somalia and operates in Somaliland. The Consortium was established in 1999.

Interpeace will lead the Peacebuilding Working Group for a period of one year, together with Saferworld as co-chair. The peacebuilding group is one of 6 thematic working groups established by the Consortium to effectively coordinate and conduct development and humanitarian support in Somalia.

NGO Consortium members in session. Photo credit: NGO Consortium.

Our team in Somalia and Somaliland has welcomed the news with delight and expressed their commitment to work closely with many other organizations to improve social cohesion, community safety interventions and effectively build sustainable peace in Somalia.

“We are indeed excited and pleased to be coordinating and working in a cohesive way with our peer organisations,” said Ahmed Abdullahi, Interpeace’s Somalia Country Coordinator.

“This platform gives us the opportunity to shape and advance innovative approaches to address the root causes of violence and work on restoring trust between communities,” said Mr Abdullahi.

We can only build a more peaceful future through collaboration. Working together as a group within the consortium strengthens our work as a peacebuilding community to effectively contribute to Somalia’s vision for change.

The Somalia Peacebuilding Working Group is an opportunity to consolidate partnerships, build a stronger peacebuilding community in Somalia and demonstrate to the world that we are more efficient when we work together.

NGO Consortium members in session. Photo credit: NGO Consortium.

Nô obi mindjer ku mininu - Pratiques de justice au village : un regard sur les mécanismes traditionnels de résolution de conflits dans les régions de Gabú, Oio et Tombali - Sommaire exécutif

Cette analyse vise à contribuer à la discussion sur les mécanismes traditionnels de résolution des conflits, en accordant une attention particulière aux conflits impliquant des femmes et des enfants.

En particulier, ce projet de recherche vise à élaborer une analyse pouvant servir de base aux actions des autorités locales et internationales dans le secteur de la justice, guidant leur action vers l'intégration du système de justice traditionnel dans une réforme plus large du secteur de la justice en Guinée-Bissau.

Nô obi mindjer ku mininu - Justice practices in the village: a view over traditional mechanisms of conflict resolution in the Gabu, Oio and Tombali regions - Executive Summary

This analysis aims to contribute to the discussion on traditional mechanisms for conflict resolution, with particular attention to conflicts involving women and children.

Particularly, this research project aims to elaborate an analysis that can serve as a basis for the actions of local and international authorities in the justice sector, guiding their action towards the integration of the traditional justice system in a wider reform of the justice sector in Guinea-Bissau.