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Participatory capacity assessment in Somalia

FAO supports locally owned food security and nutrition information system activities
27/11/2014

Started in 1994, the Somalia Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) provides analyses and information on food insecurity and malnutrition in Somalia.  

The FSNAU, now in its seventh phase, is managed by FAO and funded with multi-donor support. The overall objective of the unit is to strengthen household and community food, nutrition and livelihood security to ensure greater resilience to shocks, such as those caused by conflict, drought, flood, disease economic crises.  FSNAU data are the key source of information for aid and development agencies to plan their interventions in Somalia. (Source FSNAU website.)

One of the main expected results of this phase of the FSNAU is developing the Somali capacities to ensure that the country runs and manages its food security and nutrition information system activities, in line with its Country Programming Framework. Given the security concerns in Somalia, FAO has started developing institutional capacity in Somaliland, an area of the country that benefits from a more stable political environment.

The capacity assessment (CA) process
In 2014, with the agreement of national authorities, FAO, together with national project staff, facilitated capacity assessment and consensus-building processes in Somaliland. This resulted in a series of clearly defined actions needed to address capacity gaps in support of a Somaliland-owned food security and nutrition (FSN) information system.

The participatory CA workshop was attended by 65 participants representing stakeholders from ministries, NGOs, FSNAU, SWALIM (Somalia Water and Land Information Management) and UN agencies. The workshop consisted mainly of focus group discussions on key FSN-related sectors (for example, Nutrition).  In a validation workshop, the same stakeholder groups confirmed the results of the assessment in terms of the strengths and weaknesses identified, as well as the desired changes. The workshop went on to devise strategic and immediate next steps. As a result of the CA, capacity development action plans will be finalized and will form the basis for developing national capacities during the next years of the project.   

Reflecting on the CA process
The assessment team felt that the identification of capacity strengths and gaps was extremely good, although not all organizations were represented at the workshop.  For those that were present, participation was strong, with active discussion, problem identification and ownership of urgent issues relating to FSN information systems.  The quality of engagement was demonstrated by local stakeholders giving a presentation to a high-level panel of government officials at the closure of the validation workshop.

All in all, participants learned a great deal from each other about what it takes to carry out FSN information systems and reached consensus on the next actions to take.  

"The assessment started the capacity development process itself," stated a Somali participant from the Ministry of Agriculture.

FSNAU website

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