The Urban Development Programme for the Somali region (SUDP) extended and expanded on UN-HABITAT’s long-established programme activities in Somali towns and cities. Crucially, it functioned as an umbrella programme for all interventions in the Somali urban sector. As such, many new initiatives were taken on through new project proposals; a quarterly newsletter and a number of additional information products were also launched. The programme focused on all major cities and towns in the Somali region, implementing tangible projects that aimed to improve the local capacity for sustainable urban development. The implementation of the SUDP was planned for a period of 3 years, starting 1 April 2005.
The European Commission funded the project and UNDP co-financed it. Other international partners in the programme included the International Labour Organization, UNICEF, the Italian NGO consortium UNA, and Oxfam-Novib. The programme was designed to benefit from the comparative advantages of all the partners – the political leadership and logistic support network of UNDP in the field, as well as the operational expertise of UN-HABITAT and the other partners.
SUDP recognized the growing importance of the Somali urban sector, both demographically and economically, and aimed to promote an increasingly democratic, inclusive, and accountable system of governance, as well as more efficient and socially effective local management practices. In a fast-changing political situation, the programme, while assisting both central and regional administrations to establish the main legal and institutional instruments of governance, primarily targeted building the management capacity of local authorities and communities.
The programme maintained a strong focus on urban governance and urban management, supported by a series of local capital investment projects, crucial for enhancing the impact of the first two components.
The urban governance component had three main activities:
- Strengthening municipal governance, civil society, and community participation
- Enabling legal and institutional reform
- Improving donor coordination and programming for the urban sector
The urban management component had five areas of activity:
- Urban planning and design
- Basic services and infrastructure
- Municipal finance
- Land management
- Local economic development
Particular attention was also paid to monitoring and urban indicators, along with media and best practices.
The transition from previous projects to the new programme was smooth, due to the fact that all SUDP components were (either in pilot or a more advanced form) already established and incorporated into the two main urban governance and management initiatives implemented between 2003 and 2005. The newly selected councils in Puntland received good governance training. This included Gardo town, the first time UN-HABITAT organized an activity there. The programme had the ambition to respond to the emerging Transitional Federal Government with capacity-building activities, but the south central region regressed into conflict and activities remained small in scale, focusing on Baidoa, where the first district council had been established. However, the deployment of full-scale activities in Puntland was successful and offices were opened in Garowe and Bossaso.
Legal and Institutional Reform
In cooperation with UN-HABITAT’s Land and Tenure Section, assessments were conducted to identify land and tenure options for returnees and IDPs. The section meanwhile developed a situation analysis based on the legal frameworks of Somaliland and Puntland for land-related issues. Another key activity was the translation into Somali of draft laws. Regional discussions during urban forums in Somaliland and Puntland helped define priorities for the relevant institutions, aiming at the consolidation of a structured land regulatory framework. At the same time, UN-HABITAT, in collaboration with the Norwegian Refugee Council and UNHCR, undertook further studies on land for south central Somalia, to provide adequate regulatory tools to the Transitional Federal Government.
Donor Coordination and Programming for the Urban Sector
In an effort to improve coordination and enhance cooperation in the urban sector, the SUDP functioned as an umbrella programme, providing the managerial structure for additional projects complementing the initially planned activities. DFID, the Governments of Japan and Italy, UNICEF, WFP, and UN-OCHA (through the Humanitarian Response Fund) were some of the institutions that benefited from the SUDP structure to implement interventions in the urban sector.
Through SUDP, UN-HABITAT was able to be a key player in the UN Joint Needs Assessment, resulting in the UN Joint Programme. SUDP also participated in the Post-tsunami Task Force and was the base for the elaboration of the Joint Programme for IDPs in Bossaso, Jowhar, and Baidoa, several Consolidated Appeal Processes, and additional coordination, project proposals, and fund-raising activities. A quarterly newsletter was produced, along with brochures and other materials on specific projects, to raise awareness in the donor community about the needs and achievements of the interventions in Somali urban centres.
The urban planning component took on a broader guiding role. A strategic planning approach focused on specific issues and areas, rather than pursuing traditional master planning. Town plans were developed for the main cities, establishing a strategy for urban expansion. One point of attention was the resettlement and integration of IDPs and returnees; on this, UN-HABITAT gave vital inputs to the joint UN IDP strategy. For activities relating to shelter and basic services, additional funding was raised.
Basic Services and Infrastructure
A significant portion of the urban planning activities was linked to the strategic local projects. All the projects were implemented within the framework of the spatial development of the respective towns, with the objective of improving the urban structure. Projects principally focused on the construction and rehabilitation of markets and slaughterhouses. The projects had inputs from all the consortium partners. Oxfam-Novib helped market vendors improve their organizational capacities, while the International Labour Organization helped to establish business plans. UNA was responsible for providing technical documents and overseeing the construction components of the projects.
Under the urban services component, implemented by UNA, managing solid waste was the focus. Activities started with an assessment of solid waste management systems in Somaliland and Puntland, followed by a series of technical workshops to introduce improved systems. A call for proposals resulted in eight initial local projects, equally divided between Somaliland and Puntland.
Fully fledged municipal finance training was started in Somaliland. In the first phase, the municipal staff mastered the basic concepts of accrual accounting, budget formulation, and revenue maximization, while the second phase elaborated on this through practical on-the-job training.
An assessment of municipal finance training needs was done in Puntland, which also underwent the two phases of training. With most municipal staff in Somaliland and Puntland conversant with basic finance methods, the next step was to introduce a more advanced software package.
As part of the integrated approach, the municipal finance component was strongly linked to land management activities, which aimed to allow for better urban management and increased municipal revenue. A GIS-based property database was created from a property survey carried out in Hargeisa in 2004 and 2005. A computerized property taxation system was in turn developed from this database. Municipal property tax invoices are now prepared from this system. In the first two years, a clear rise in municipal property tax revenue was observed in Hargeisa, and service delivery soon improved through capital projects (e.g. the paving of a five-kilometre road). In 2007, similar property surveys were carried out in Boroma and Berbera. A review of the property taxation systems in these two towns followed.
Local Economic Development
The International Labour Organization created economic profiles (territorial and institutional mapping) for four regions as part of the local economic development component. These studies allowed municipalities to focus on priority areas for economic development and employment generation.