Anab Farah Ahmed runs the Magan Hospital, with support from the Swedish Somali Research Association through Forum Syd and Sida. She is a driving force in the work against female genital mutilation and she was for many years a resident of Sweden.
Photo: David Isaksson, Global Reporting
Swedish Somalis contribute to Swedish development cooperation with Somalia
Sida finances two programmes catering to the large Somali diaspora in Sweden, making it possible for Swedish Somalis to contribute to the reconstruction of their country. The programmes have shown good results and are now being expanded.
There are several hundred civil society organisations with a Somali connection in Sweden. Now Sida is stepping up efforts to reach out to Swedish Somali business owners, academics and those active in organisations, to start a dialogue on how they can participate in the development of Somalia. They can for example bring back knowledge, invest or start a business in their home country.
Erik Pettersson works with Sweden's development cooperation with Somalia, as a programme officer at the Swedish embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. He says:
"The diaspora plays a major role in the development of Somalia, and calculations show that the remittances they send to relatives far exceed the amounts given in development cooperation. By giving Swedish Somalis an opportunity to contribute to the development cooperation, these remittances are complemented by an exchange of knowledge and experiences from Sweden. That means that we support Somali solutions to Somali problems."
Cooperation with Forum Syd
Sida finances two programmes aimed at Swedish Somalis. One is aimed at Swedish Somali civil society organisations, in collaboration with Forum Syd. The organisations can apply for money from Forum Syd to implement development projects with local partner organisations in Somalia. There has been great interest in the programme and 57 organisations applied for support during the first phase (2012-2014). 20 projects were awarded funding.
Due to the great interest and the positive results demonstrated by the projects, Sida is continuing the collaboration with Forum Syd. Over the next three years Sida will support the programme with 45 million SEK. Swedish Somali civil society organisations with the expertise to implement collaboration projects in their home country are invited to apply for project funding. The projects should focus on one of the following themes: democracy, human rights, health, gender equality, sustainable livelihoods or peace building between different regions of Somalia.
Cooperation with IOM
The second programme is implemented in cooperation with IOM (International Organization for Migration) and aims to support Somali university graduates returning to Somalia to work in ministries and government agencies. IOM's programme not only caters to Swedish Somalis but the entire Somali diaspora. Through this programme Sida supports 65 well-educated Somalis for a period of three years as they return to work within the Somali judicial system, the health sector and public financial management. The experts are placed at the federal level as well as in Somaliland and Puntland. Experts have been placed at the Ministies of Justice, Health and Finance. The programme also includes support to a trainee programme where recent graduates from Somali universities have the opportunity to work alongside the experts.
"The programme has been running for over a year and we see that the experts that we have placed are appreciated and make a difference in the ministries where they work. One challenge, unfortunately, is that very few Swedish Somalis and few women apply to the programme. Mainly Somali men living in English speaking countries have applied for these positions.
Future collaboration with Business Sweden
Sida has also entered into a partnership with Business Sweden to develop a third programme to support investment and job creation in Somalia. The programme will hopefully be launched in 2015.