Somali Family Services (SFS) believes in the critical role civil society plays in Somalia’s economic and political development. Civil society organizations (CSOs) build peace and provide vital services to the population. They also empower citizens to participate in the rebuilding and governing of their country. To advance civil society’s ability to play its role as a key pillar of democracy, SFS works to support, strengthen and improve local CSOs in a variety of ways.
- In 2007, SFS established the Puntland Library & Resource Center (PLRC), which serves as a platform for the work of CSOs, providing them with a safe space to discuss and collaborate on sensitive topics. It is also a venue where they can hold meetings, forums and workshops with government officials and members of the community. In November 2010, for example, SFS, in collaboration with UNDP Somalia, organized a dialogue forum entitled ‘Democratic Engagement for Somalia’ at the PLRC. The forum brought together different government and civil society stakeholders for the purpose of exploring the implementation of a Charities Act and affirmative action in Puntland.
- SFS hosts capacity building workshops for other CSOs. These workshops offer CSO staff members the opportunity to improve their skills in areas such as advocacy, conflict resolution and gender sensitivity. The workshops also enhance the abilities of CSOs to provide social and other critical services to Puntlanders.
- Throughout Puntland, SFS holds Neighborhood Colleges, a leadership and civil development program aimed at educating citizens on local government, democratic processes, and rights and responsibilities. These discussions among government officials, civil society organizations and constituents help build bridges between the groups, while encouraging peaceful dispute resolution. Thus far SFS has organized 27 Neighborhood College forums in Garowe, Galkacyo, Bosaso and Quardo. These forums have provided citizens with the important opportunity to learn about the work of local authorities, and to communicate feedback and requests to government officials.
SFS also leads human rights discussions and workshops designed to encourage respect for human rights and educate human rights defenders (HRDs). In conjunction with the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), SFS held a workshop on human rights in July of 2011 that brought together traditional leaders and representatives from civil society, media and government. Participants discussed how to better protect human rights in Puntland and concrete steps that should be taken toward this goal, such as the establishment of an Office of Human Rights Defenders.
In all of its programming, SFS strives to build peace and demonstrate non-violent solutions. It seeks to rebuild Puntland into a secure, democratic state where its citizens can thrive and have a meaningful voice in how Somali society and government are organized.
- Adventist Development and Relief Agency
- Books For Africa
- Counterpart International
- Diakonia, Sweden
- Education Development Center
- International Labour Organization
- National Endowment for Democracy
- State of Minnesota Department of Human Services
- UN Political Office for Somalia
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
- United Nations Population Fund
- World Movement for Democracy