(Re)conciliation and Mediation Support in Somalia

The project aims to assist the citizens of Hirshabelle to build or restore constructive relationships with each other. In so doing, the project intends to take the knowledge base and experience present in the communities and add practical skills in mediation and dialogue facilitation through training and joint learning with important stakeholders and chosen multipliers. We specifically focus on conceptual expertise and practical skills to empower these individuals and motivate them to encourage reconciliation in their communities.

Over the course of the 2-year project, an informal platform of dialogue facilitators/mediators is being established, within which sharing of information and experience is encouraged. These trained mediators then jointly facilitate a series of Shirarka, the typical 7-day Somali form of dialogue, in the state of Hirshabelle. Here the participants discuss potential approaches to reconciliation and their views on the statebuilding process in the state. As in the case of the previous Berghof project in Somalia, the main elements for the development of a new approach to the reconciliation process will be developed through these Shirarka, encompassing all segments of the society.

This complementary bottom-up approach to reconciliation presents a good opportunity to support and strengthen further constitutional state-building in Hirshabelle. Based on the information and experience gathered during the project, the Berghof Foundation then provides advice to the local, regional and federal authorities with respect to reconciliation initiatives and strategies. The results of these activities are also shared with interested stakeholders and various international actors and donors.



Since the nation state in Somalia collapsed in 1991, the country was for many years either in a state of civil war or was classified as a fragile state. Various internationally-organized peace conferences have taken place over the years and some of these conferences have produced political agreements, but they have never sufficiently addressed crucial grievances that existed – and still exist – among Somali individuals, communities and clans. Furthermore, the decision makers at the negotiation tables, which have included warlords, former Siad Barre governmental employees, and diaspora elite, have had a significant lack of strategy: instead of addressing and supporting meaningful reconciliation among the clans and sub-clans of the country, only timetables and power-sharing constellations for new governmental structures have been agreed upon.

Following the Somalia Reconciliation Conference from 2002-2004 a Transitional Federal Charter mandated the formation of a federal state in Somalia. This charter has remained since then the basis of the governmental structure in the country. In August 2012, eight years of transitional government in Somalia ended with the adoption of the Provisional Constitution (PC) and in November of the same year a new Federal Government was established. Yet while the Provisional Constitution mandates the establishment of a federal system of government, it remains a vaguely formulated document containing many contradictions and ambiguities, and many elements essential to the successful implementation of federalism are not defined in the constitution. The Provisional Constitution foresaw the merger of at least two or more regions to form a Federal Member State based on a “voluntary decision” (see Article 49 (6) of the PC). However, the government has recognized that this creation of federal structures has been based mainly on clan interests and the consent of the elites in the respective societies; there was little consultation with the population at large, neither with local clan and/or religious leaders nor with the local administrations in the districts. Furthermore, in practically all cases of recent creations of federal member states, conflict has broken out because some sub-clans and/or civil society at the grassroots level were left out of the negotiations.

Therefore, there have been new and emerging conflicts that have arisen specifically because of the top-down approach in which the federalization process has been carried out. Simultaneously, however, there are also various historical grievances due to the many atrocities committed during the civil war and the lack of comprehensive reconciliation and dealing with the past to address these issues. Thus (re)conciliation is urgently needed in order to foster social cohesion, as well as to ensure proper participation in the ongoing governance processes in the country. Only with participation and social cohesion can a legitimate government at all levels of the country be built.

We collaborate on this project with two universities in Somalia: Jobkey University in Jowhar and Hiiraan University in Beledweyne. In addition, the project is supported by the Federal Government of Somalia.

The project is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.

Shirarka in Balad and Beledweyne

Two six-day traditional Somali assemblies were held in the towns of Balad and Beledweyne in Hirshabelle State.  These events brought bring together around 50 individuals from various clans and sub-clans and allowed the participants all to express their views on transforming violent conflict. more >

Shir Dialogue Assembly on local conflicts and community responses in Bula Burte

To encourage community reflection on issues related to conflict and peace and to develop local actions to transform conflict, a Shir took place in Bulla Burte town (Hirshabelle, Somalia) in August 2018. more >

Mediation Support Workshop with Youth Representatives of Hirshabelle State

This workshop with young peacebuilders from Hirshabelle State brought together 16 of the most influential young peacebuilders and youth representatives from Hirshabelle State to share their knowledge and experience of reconciliation processes and expand their capacity in mediation. more >

Mediation Support Workshop with Hirshabelle Civil Society Leaders

The Berghof Foundation organized a 3-day workshop with leaders of women’s groups, teachers, representatives of the business and media communities, activists, IDP camp operators, and local peace committee members from Hirshabelle State to enhance the capacity of these members of society in collaborative dispute resolution and reconciliation. more >

Workshop with Somali Elders in Mogadishu

The Berghof Foundation’s Somalia Team conducted a 4-day ‘Mediation Support Workshop’ with traditional Somali elders in February 2018 in Mogadishu, Somalia. The workshop brought together 15 of the most influential traditional and religious leaders from Hirshabelle State, to share experiences of reconciliation, expand capacities in mediation and build a network of insider mediators. more >

New Publication on Somalia: “Conflict Assessment Report: Hirshabelle State, Somalia”

This report explains and analyses the concerns and perceptions of Somalis in terms of conflict and reconciliation issues in the areas in which they live in Hirshabelle State. The research was carried out by Berghof Foundation staff with the support of representatives of the Government of Hirshabelle State, Jobkey University and Hiiraan University. more >

Field research in Hirshabelle completed

During September 2017, the Somali-based team carried out a field research exercise in the Somali State of Hirshabelle. The objective of the mission was to collect information on the needs of the communities in terms of reconciliation, including the previous approaches taken, the impediments and challenges, and the opportunities that are available for successful reconciliation. An extensive actors-mapping was carried out simultaneously in order to better understand the interests of relevant stakeholders and their influence. The research employed a participatory methodology, including key informant interviews with government officials and 30 focus group discussions with different stakeholders including women, traditional and religious leaders, civil society representatives, youth, professionals (former civil servants, journalists, academics, etc.) and artists and poets. The results from this research provide the necessary knowledge-base for developing, together with our Somali partners, a conceptual approach to community reconciliation and mediation support in the State of Hirshabelle. more >

Kick-off workshop and  roundtable discussion

In July 2017, a kick-off workshop was held in Nairobi with all project stakeholders in order to discuss the project’s approach and methodology, as well as to plan the detailed activities of the project. Furthermore, we facilitated a roundtable discussion with like-minded non-governmental organizations and international stakeholders active in Somalia in order to present the results of the previous project of the Berghof Foundation in Somalia, to discuss the current project and to exchange views on issues of reconciliation and conflict transformation in Somalia.

  • Reports from the four Shirarka Dialogue Assemblies Hirshabelle, Somalia, 2018.  Somali >
  • Abass Kassim Sheikh: Conflict Assessment Report. Hirshabelle State, Somalia. 2018. PDF >
  • Abass Kassim Sheikh: Warbixin lagu qiimeynaayo Colaadaha Gobolka. Hirshabeelle, Soomaaliya. 2018. PDF >
  • Janel B. Galvanek: Grass-Roots Dialogue in Hirshabelle State: Recommendations for Locally-Informed Federalism in Somalia. 2017. Project Report. PDF >
  • Janel B. Galvanek: Wadahadalada asaasiga ah ee Dowlad Goboleedka Hirshabelle: Talooyin Federaalka ku saabsan oo aay dadka deegaanka qeyb ku leeyihiin. 2017. Warbixinta Mashruuca. PDF >