Coordinating Development in Conflict States: Donor Networks in Somalia

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Abstract

Aid coordination is part of the governance of public policy, affecting the accountability and effectiveness of aid as well as power relationships. Using the case of Somalia, this article analyses the coordination of aid in conflict settings. Somalia is marked by multidimensional involvement, ‘remote control’ from Nairobi, and a general unease about impact and accountability across all involved (donors, UN and Somali actors). ‘Comprehensive’ aid strategies that straddle various logics of engagement need to be given shape in situ, i.e. by relatively autonomous donor country offices. Here networks of relationships and coordination mechanisms shape decision-making and problem-framing. Often the size of one's development budget provides limited leverage. Despite much distrust, UN agencies provide a gatekeeper function vis-à-vis Somalia counterparts. Trilateral dialogue about aid remains largely symbolic and at the diplomatic level. While effective solutions to problems can be found, a lack of joint engagement based on publicly traceable ‘technical’ principles undermines both accountability and joint learning over time, in turn impacting trust.

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