This is a brief summary of the paper of the same title written by Abdirahman Adan Mohamoud in April 2012. The paper examines the status of local governments in Somaliland in terms of administration, fiscal arrangements, legal frameworks, and service delivery. It explores opportunities and challenges, and provides recommendations. For the full paper, please contact UN-Habitat Somalia.
Local governments in Somaliland have undergone huge changes since the initiation of decentralized local governance in Somaliland. Service delivery has been specifically enhanced, though it is not yet up to a satisfactory level. Presently, local governments face numerous challenges, including fiscal constraints that place them in a situation where they cannot deliver the services as stipulated by local government law. They have capacity concerns, contradicting legal frameworks, and service delivery issues. On the other hand, there are opportunities that need to be skilfully tapped. These opportunities include the important local council elections and the vibrancy of the local media. In addition, the local community is willing to collaborate and provide co-financing, and there is a chance to increase people’s understanding of local governance issues.
Local governments in Somaliland have passed through different stages over the past two decades. During the first decade, nominated district commissioners ran the local governments. However, in 2002, the first local government election was organized in Somaliland, and half a dozen political organizations registered and participated. Elected councillors took the reins of local governments, who then elected mayors from within.
With decentralized local governance, the functions of the municipalities were severely affected by serious power struggles that diverted the attention of local councillors and administration away from institutionalization and service delivery. This was coupled with severely limited resources, institutional and capacity concerns, and legal framework issues. However, as time went on things improved, and local councillors, receiving assistance from development partners, started to focus on their primary functions. Service delivery got better. In major towns, local governments have started in the last couple of years to rehabilitate roads, construct new ones, and deliver other services. This is often done in conjunction with representatives of the neighbourhoods, who contribute financially to the delivery of such development projects.
It is clear that local governments in Somaliland have made tremendous progress in their efforts to achieve institutional development, create a better understanding of local governance issues, and, above all, build trust between them and the local people. However, given the strategic importance of local governments in addressing local needs, local governments in Somaliland need to be assisted to stand with their feet firmly on the ground.