Gatekeepers, elders and accountability in Somalia

Research reports and studies
December 2017
Aoife McCullough and Muhyadin Saed

In Somalia, the relationship between formal and informal spheres of governance are being renegotiated. In many areas, the formal state has been absent for a long time, or government agents only recently appointed by the Federal Government of Somalia. Meanwhile, there are powerful non-state actors who play roles in customary and informal governance systems, that in turn work to compete with, accommodate and influence formal state institutions.

Using case studies from the Implementation and Analysis in Action of Accountability Programme, a Department for International Development-funded programme that made grants available to Somali and international organisations to trial interventions designed to increase accountability, this report examines how impact can be achieved through working with non-state actors.

This report presents two main recommendations for organisations trialling accountability programmes that interact with non-state actors:

  • Move away from accountability programmes that think in terms of ‘states’ and ‘citizens’. Rather, practitioners should recognise that power is dispersed among a range of actors in different ways in places where formal and informal governance overlap.
  • Initiatives to increase accountability must therefore consider the range of accountability relationships that influence governance and work to identify those relationships that might be influenced.