Somalilandsun: The parliament, house of elders and the president passed a legislation endorsing a decentralization policy in Somaliland in 2014. This provides the political, administrative and financial scope to decentralize service delivery, to districts with sufficient capacity, in prioritized sectors which are health, education, water/sanitation and roads. The policy gives district councils that the authority make local decisions on planning, finance and human resources. The decentralization policy outlines the direct election of District Councils based on open, competitive, and non-discriminatory selection and campaigning for local council offices with elections scheduled in Somaliland in 2017.
Support to the evolving process of decentralization in Somaliland has been provided through the UN Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralized Services (known as ‘JPLG). In 2015, JPLG continues to focus on strengthening local governance and decentralization across Somalia.
Somaliland Municipalities have passed through numerous stages during the past three decades since 1990. During 1990s, nominated mayors and deputy mayors were in charge of local governments. The first municipal election was held in 2002 and the second round of local government councilors were elected in 2012. However, the elected councilors didn’t meet the expectations of citizens due to poor service delivery and massive corruption.
According to Abdirahman Jim’ale (2002), the national constitution mandated the government to decentralize they system of government. A suitable environment and opportunity for decentralization prevails. There is peace and public tolerance of government. A fear of return to centralized rule also sustains pressure for the devolution of powers. (Yasin Jama, 2016).
Somaliland decentralization and service delivery is given to less or no attention. First of all, decentralization is defined as the transfer of authority from central to local governments to perform certain duties. This is seen as one of the constitutional rights. Delegation process at local governments is also in darkness in Somaliland. Decentralization in Somaliland is began in 2002 when the national constitution mandated the government to decentralize the system of governance, with the aim of promoting service delivery and enhancing local participation. Worst situations occur, when an elected president or a district Mayor wants to rule the whole country without holistic decentralization policy and delegation hence resulting into poor service delivery and less sense of ownership among local communities. Tough questions lie on the process of transforming from village to district in Somaliland.
Ironically, every local government around the globe is obliged to fulfill public social services including, but not limited to, regular public sanitation/hygiene services; regular public works and rural-urban development service for repairing and maintain local public service facilities including water, solid waste dumpsites, markets, road maintenance, culverts, bridges, open-water storm drainages, pubic street lights and services delegated by the central government administration. Some local governments in Somaliland have higher financial capacities due to their local custom tax revenue service efficiency, for example, Gabiley district and Berbera district have more financial resources than some other districts in the country. Somaliland government should take into account to funding local governments so that local people’s needs are met at the end of day if to realize decentralization policies and effective service delivery in Somaliland.
According to UNDP over half of district budget are spent on staff salaries and allowances. Sources of local revenue include, but not limited to, registration and annual property fees, business licensing fees, sales tax, public employee tax, and livestock taxes collection in local markets and among others.
According to Ford 1999, Fiscal decentralization is essential for all forms of decentralization. If the local level receives decision-making powers to be active on local level, but not the funds required to implement such activities, decentralization will become void. (Yasin Jama, 2016).
Corruption at local governments is hugely a disaster in the essence that situations when the little fund received from the poor people through taxes is diverted into corruption hence local people are no longer expecting effective service delivery such as: proper hygiene and clean water, better health care, better education system, better maintained roads and among others.
Due to ignorance and low-level of education, local government authorities cannot address their financial and technical limitations. Local government authorities have in adequate skills to collect taxes and generate revenues through either local activities and/or subsidies from the central government.
Greediness of the central government and corruption hampers effective decentralization and better local service delivery. The central government has a key role to play in building local capacity and there are two approaches available for example, the central government can provide training in traditional, top-down ways, and it can also create an enabling environment, utilizing its financial resources and regulatory powers to help local governments define their needs (thereby making the process demand-driven), in order to deploy training to local governments from multiple sources. This would enable local governments to learn by doing as decentralization proceeds, and to establish learning networks within and between jurisdictions.
By Mohamed Mohamoud Omer;
Monitoring and Evaluation Consultant and a researcher; +252-634850653; Mohqalib2020@gmail.com.