This participatory action research (PAR) project showed that it is possible to work with rural local communities in Somalia, and foster their self-organization without providing incentives, such as per diems for meeting sit-in etc.
The case study explores some of the achievements and lessons learned during the first 18 months of an operational research project, Citizen Directed Negotiated Accountability (CDNA). Conducted amongst the communities of Afmadow District in the Lower Juba Region of Somalia, KATUNI Consult’s CDNA project sought to apply a flexible “learning by doing” approach, underpinned by a deep understanding of Somalia political economy to improve local governance and accountability. The approach centered on resource mobilization, rather than direct service provision, with the objective of eventually channeling funds through government systems.
Despite the inherent challenges of operating within an environment as fractured as Somalia, the researchers had a relatively high degree of success in strengthening the foundations for accountability by employing an inclusive negotiation and consensus building process. This process, while mediated and supported at times by the research team facilitators, was fully under the control, ownership, and direction of the citizens and other local stakeholders involved.
The preliminary results of the research indicate that the CDNA approach has the potential to overcome some of the weaknesses of current approaches to local level state-building by putting the focus on establishing the structures and mechanisms that can feed into accountability, before focus is shifted towards the technical aspects of revenue collection and service delivery. This approach might be viewed as an ideal starting point for building the foundations for accountability in an uncertain, complex, and conflicted environment.