In response to the refugee crisis, ActionAid International has been working in Somalia in 1980s. However, with the onset of the 1988 conflict in the North-west Somalia (current Somaliland) and deteriorating security conditions, ActionAid curtailed its activities and finally withdrew from Somalia in September 1990. ActionAid yet maintained links with Somalia as a coordinator of Inter-NGO Committee for Somalia (INCS-UK) - a committee comprising British relief and development agencies which shared information and planned a coordinated response to the crisis in Somalia.
In June 1992, ActionAid Somaliland (AAIS) opened its office in Erigavo, Sanaag region, after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Somaliland in Hargeisa and the Council of Elders in Erigavo who was then administering the region. Since 1996, ActionAid-Somaliland supported Sanaag people and later Togdheer (1998) to establish their own Community Based Organisations (CBOs) to manage local development processes. The CBOs brought together diverse social groups, who established governance and development structures among their members. The traditional system of governance was based on eight principles of institutional design (Elinor Ostrum, 1994).
To enhance organizational effectiveness and be in sync with ActionAid strategy RTEP, ActionAid International Somaliland (AAIS) went through significant structural changes from 2006 by increasing its capacity, profile, and new skills with a mixture of qualified local and international staff.
In 2006, AAIS expanded its programme coverage and opened its national office in Hargeisa with the view of appraising new areas with a high poverty index and within the context of the new strategy. Currently, AAIS is working with seven local partners in three regions. The main office is in Hargeisa, the capital city of Somaliland. A partner organisation (SOHA) manages the oldest Local Right Programmes (LRP). The other two LRPs are ActionAid direct programmes. AAIS aspires and will work towards a full member of the AAI federation. However, this may not be achieved within this strategy period due to political dynamics in Somali
Our operational challenges
Somaliland still remains in a reconstruction stage and its government lacks institutional and financial capacity to address the developmental priorities of its citizens. Somaliland faces insurmountable challenges to revive its shattered economy, create employment and provide basic services.
The nascent structures and institutions lack instruments that guide policy directions. Few policy documents facilitated by aid agencies gather dust on the shelves because of inadequate financial and human resources to implement them. Somaliland cannot attract direct foreign investments or aid from multilateral and bilateral organizations, and does not belong to any regional/ international trade agreements.
There are no diplomatic missions in the country and donors are mostly based in Nairobi, Kenya. Security remains fragile with the impending threat from the infiltration of Al-Shabaab extremists as they continue to lose grounds in South Central Somalia.
Traditional clan structures influence national politics and the governance system. Government accountability system is weak. The judiciary, anti-corruption and Human Rights commissions are under control of the executive organ. Despite the above challenges, there are opportunities of engaging with government institutions and traditional clan structures to influence the power imbalance and eradicateharmful cultural practice that excludes women and girls frompolitical, administrative and developmental arena.