FAO in Somalia

The importance of local partnerships for food security in rural Somalia

©FAO Participants at a recent workshop for organizations that work in hard-to-reach areas of Somalia

Mogadishu, One of the most significant ways that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is working to improve food security and nutrition in Somalia is through partnerships with local organizations. Local organizations are at the forefront of humanitarian response and resilience building initiatives in the country. They have a deep understanding of the local context and are well-positioned to reach the most vulnerable, rural communities in hard-to-reach and so called ‘inaccessible’ areas. Since 2020, FAO has worked with 277 local, non-governmental implementing partners across Somalia to address chronic food insecurity and help rural communities adapt their livelihoods in the face of an uncertain future affected by climate change, economic fragility and other hazards.

Stronger technical capacity in these local partner organizations is essential to realizing positive and sustainable outcomes in the long run. With the support of the Swedish Government, FAO mapped out local actors dealing with vulnerable groups and recently provided capacity building initiatives to 15 local organizations that work in hard-to-reach areas of South West State in Somalia.

The initiative aimed at helping them design and implement more sustainable and inclusive food security projects by focusing the training on project cycle management and conflict sensitivity. “We were trained on important aspects of project deliverables like implementation, management, resource mobilization and conflict sensitization,” said Mohamed Sugow, a Project Assistant for the Rural Education and Agriculture Organization (READO) and a participant at a training in Baidoa. “The training has built and enhanced our capacity and I believe we will provide better services to the vulnerable people we serve,” he added.

When FAO’s local partners have the skills and knowledge to manage projects effectively, they’re more likely to make a real difference in strengthening food security for rural communities. One example of how FAO's partnerships with local actors are making a difference is the story of African Rural Development (ARD), whose team members also participated in the recent training event. ARD is a local organization that works to empower local communities to improve their own food security in Southern Somalia. FAO recently partnered with ARD on projects that promoted climate smart agriculture practices and marketing for female farmers in hard-to-reach areas of rural Somalia. With the provision of farm tools and drought resistant seeds, irrigation and land tilling support, the project helped improve the productivity of women in rural communities and reduced their risk of displacement from climate shocks. It’s a positive outcome that would not have been otherwise possible without the access and local networks required to work successfully in rural areas.

“Local partnerships are essential to FAO's work in addressing the country’s chronic an acute food insecurity challenges while ensuring social inclusion in line with the Leave No One Behind agenda,” said Ezana Kassa, FAO’s Head of Programme in Somalia. By investing in its national partners through a localization approach, FAO is better placed to achieve its mandate to build more inclusive and sustainable food systems and contribute to a more resilient future for all Somalis.