Communities learn about their civil rights and demand better governance and services
GAROWE, Somalia, 9 March 2011: Abdulkadir Nur joined the recently formed Garowe district Council in August 2010. He is also a member of the council’s Permanent Committee and heads the council’s Monitoring and Supervision Committee.
In this story, Mr. Nur reflects on how he has seen changes in people’s attitude towards local governance in comparison to his earlier years as a civil servant.
“I started my tour with Kalabayr Village. As soon as the meeting started, I noticed that the situation was different from what it used to be before. I used to work in the civil society and I often held meetings with village communities. People this time were demanding and asking me questions on what the local government has done for them.
“People said the local government provides no services to them. They asked me many difficult questions that I couldn’t answer. If I knew this, I would have taken along with me more experienced council members.
“The villagers were saying that they have a right to political participation in their village’s affairs, and in the district and central level decision making process. They were strongly demanding in contrast to the previous attitude of being submissive to government officials. I came to know, after the meeting, that an organization called SDT (Somali Development Trust) had trained village residents on the issues of rights and responsibilities of citizens, and of accountability of the local government.
“I promised residents of Kalabayr Village that I will submit their case to the Mayor and the Executive Committee at the Council. Then, I proceeded to the next three villages of Birtadheer, Km 22, and Sinujif where people were as vocal as the previous village. Women, men and youth were united in asking for services. They said to me ‘you never come to us or provide us with the services we need, while you collect tax from us.’ From their outspokenness, bravery, and the way they were asking me questions, I came to the conclusion that they had also taken the same training.
“I advised each village to come to the local government office in Garowe and meet the Mayor and the Executive Committee and put forward their cases. I can see that the training provided was effective and fruitful. I like that because I work in the civil society and support people demanding their rights. I will take their issues to the upcoming Council meeting and will inform councillors that people are not the ones they used to know.”
Note: Communities are being trained and sensitized on their social and political rights as well as their responsibilities under the Joint Programme for Local Governance and Decentralized Services Delivery (JPLG) supported by UNICEF, ILO, UNCDF, UNDP and UN-HABITAT. The programme aims to help communities have equitable access to basic services through the local government in addition to achieving accountability and transparency of local government.
For more information about the JPLG programme, visit: http://jplg.org/