With this provocative statement, KATUNI Consult wants to attract your attention to our latest research findings, which has vital importance for the prospects of social and political change in Somalia. For a very long time, the international community has been promoting the notion – and in most cases in fact nurtured the creation – of so-called civil society organizations in Somalia, most frequently referred to as NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations). However, there has not been sufficient analysis of what the NGOs and civil society in fact is. KATUNI has therefore carried out a theory based research and analysis on the civil society phenomenon, and reached the provocative conclusion that there de-facto is no bonafide civil society in Somalia.
The briefing paper, which can be accessed below, critically evaluates the concept and application of ‘civil society’ in Somalia and presents an identification model that seeks to better identify various civic actors working in Somalia and the results of a mapping exercise using this model. It calls for a re-think of civil society engagement in Somalia that may contribute to improved accountability. It explains that the sector is composed of sub-contracting agencies, most commonly referred to as NGOs, and other social civic actors who however do not qualify as being civil society. To distinguish the actors in the field is vital, if social and political change is to occur in Somalia. The potential for an actual civil society to rise up is there, but it requires that they are provided with the space to do so, and that international community interventions do not inhibit their true and independent development. The latter, the independence of a true civil society is at the same time crucial for the emergence of alternative social and political forces, to balance off the current political spectrum, which is vital if the political corruption in the country is to be fought, and accountability is to be ensured.