Community Safety in Mogadishu
In the wake of recent fighting against Al Shabaab, a fragile peace has now been established in several districts of the Somali capital, Mogadishu. Despite this achievement, Somali communities face huge challenges as the country continue to suffer from a broad range of security and safety problems. Safety at community level represents one of the most imminent and difficult tasks to pave the way for humanitarian aid and development.
For five years, the deming unit of the Danish Refugee Council, Danish Demining Group (DDG) has had Emergency Mine Action activities as key priority in Mogadishu. The programme has been focusing on clearance of unexploded ordnances (UXO) and explosive remnants of war (ERW) and giving Mine Risk Education to internally displaced people and community members. Now, DDG Somalia enters into a new phase moving focus from classic demining interventions to the Armed Violence Reduction project, including the deployment of Community Safety teams to the Somali capital.
Twenty years of intermittent armed conflict with Mogadishu as a permanent frontline has resulted in city wide contamination of explosive remnants of war (ERW), mines, and unexploded ordnances (UXO). Possessing firearms is widespread in Mogadishu, and combined with the fact that violence is seen as a legitimate method for resolving disputes a constant and lethal danger exists as a norm and part of daily life. In addition, crime is endemic and local security services are inexperienced with limited training and often seen as politicized and corrupted.
Governance is Mogadishu is nascent and struggles to deal with these problems on top of humanitarian and development concerns of historical dimensions. With community safety being paramount to any future development, Danish Demining Group (DDG) has expanded a number of activities in Somalia to assist in consolidating and securing the newly achieved and fragile peace.
Training and mentoring
DDG’s community safety programming seeks to address some of the issues threatening the transition to a more consolidated peace in Somalia. Through empowering the community DDG aims at contributing to the Somali communities’ ability to develop sustainable solutions to their particular safety problems.
With training and mentoring being key to mobilizing and strengthening local capacities, DDG encourages the community to create safety committees. The safety committee, which will include the representation from woman, youth, and minority groups, will then be tasked to identify safety problems and later be assisted in developing a plan to deal with these threats in close collaboration with DDG.
Providing Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) support, DDG allow explosive items to be disposed of safely in partnership with the Somali authorities and communities. DDG trains the community in how to identify Mines and UXO, how to safely handle and store firearms, and how to introduce non-violent ways to resolve conflicts.
Reducing theft and accidents
As part of DDG’s community safety programme a number of interventions are launched in partnership with Somali authorities and communities.
In an understanding of the fact that arms will not disappear anytime soon in Somalia, DDG strives to find new ways of working with communities to develop new and safer ways of dealing with weapons. A new type of weapon lock, tailored for Somalia, is about to be completed by DDG. The lock is now being provided for people who wish to address the need for safer ways of dealing with their weapon and not least wishes to reduce theft and accidents.
Further, a dialogue is facilitated between the police and the community, helping to develop a responsible and responsive security service. And finally, DDG builds the capacity of the community safety committee in organization, mobilization and fundraising – empowering the Somali community to utilize both internal and external resources to resolve safety problems.
Community safety in four district of Mogadishu
In consultation and agreement with both national authorities and the UN, DDG’s initial programming in Mogadishu will be implemented is in Wadajir (Medina) District. Wadajir consists of four communities – General Daa’uud, Hawa Tako, Tima Cadde and Halane. DDG is now working to identify the safety needs of these communities, as well as developing relationships and bonds with the community and its leadership. Both are critical commitments to the success of the programming. Once the committees and links are established, the community safety programme will begin with an advocacy workshop that ensures support of the community leadership for the programme.
Achieving stability after two decades of war
Mogadishu, ravaged by war for over twenty years, is in dire need of interventions which addresses the security needs at the community level. Such programming will complement ongoing security interventions which are often targeted at the national level. Working with the community at grass root level and collaborating with other partners involved in paving the way for community safety, DDG hopes to make a contribution to stability in Mogadishu and pave the way for recovery and development in the capital.