A District Safety Committee formed to cooperate with the local police force in Gardo, Puntland, Somalia

DDG Commences New DFID-Funded Project on Security and Justice in Somalia

A £7 million project funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) aims to contribute to security sector reform in fragile parts of Somalia. This will involve strengthening the capacity and accountability of the Somali Police Force at federal state level and improving access to justice through more representative and able traditional and modern justice mechanisms.


After more than 25 years of civil conflict, Somalia is at a turning point. There have been positive political and security developments, and a commitment by the international community to support transition to peace and stability. A critical aspect of this transition is comprehensive and multi-level security sector and justice reform.

“With the support of DFID and in close collaboration with other partners, DDG will work to link local communities with security and justice providers in key government-controlled areas in south-central Somalia”, says DDG Regional Technical Manager for East Africa and Yemen, Mads Frilander.

Frilander explains that DDG will support “the creation of a basic policing model, based on the foundation of a healthy relationship with communities. Way too often policing is top-down and unresponsive to local needs and therefore not perceived as meaningful, legitimate and helpful by local communities. DDG seeks to work with the police to build their capacity on essential policing roles, enhance accountability towards the communities they serve and promote collaboration. This is key to ensuring law and order and enhancing community support of the police”.

DDG is committed to placing local communities at the centre and work with the structures that already exist with a degree of local legitimacy in fragile areas of Somalia. As Frilander says, “We work on strengthening the police as well as traditional justice mechanisms, which is more legitimate for the broader population, linking that to the modern justice systems”.

As in many other African nations, Somalia exists in a state of legal pluralism where customary law (Xeer), religious law (Shar’ia) and secular law operate. The civil law system remains very weak and not necessarily appropriate for resolving long-standing disputes. 

“In the areas we’re working in, in some cases people have been without formal structures for decades. They utilise traditional means of managing disputes, which works to some extent – our approach is to work with this reality on the ground, promote more accountable, participatory ways of ensuring security and safety that serves the public. We try to match local realities to national frameworks, which is different from other top-down approaches, which in many cases doesn’t work and in Somalia, hasn’t”, describes Frilander.

The project will be implemented over 30 months, working at multiple levels, including community, district and state. It will involve 10 hubs across South West State, Jubaland and Hir-Shabeelle.

It forms part of DDG’s long-standing commitment to bottom-up community safety, conflict management and security and justice reform in over two hundred communities in Somalia.