Somali Legal Empowerment Network The First Legal Empowerment Network in Somalia/Puntland

The Manaal Relief Foundation- MRF is currently pulling together all local and national legal empowerment (LE) actors (grassroots organizations, legal aid organizations/centers and individuals) in Somalia in an effort to establish and launch a national legal empowerment of diverse local non-state actors that can develop, share and grow LE methods in the country.

MRF will convene and host the Somali Legal Empowerment Network as well as hosting the LE Conversations series, called Law in Action: providing the space for members to interrogate the role of law and its impact on current social & gender justice issues. The Somali Legal Empowerment Network will provide a platform for joint planning, strategizing, action and development of local, regional and national legal empowerment methods in Somalia. The Network will deliberately harness the power of regional human rights mechanisms to deepen the realization of social and gender justice in Somalia.

The network aims to expand the knowledge base regarding the relationship between the operation of customary justice systems and the legal empowerment of poor and marginalized populations The members will have access to an exclusive directory of legal empowerment practitioners across the country. Members will also be able to contribute to and access legal empowerment resources, expertise and information. The Network will serve as a platform to raise awareness, pool resources and exchange experiences in order to promote legal empowerment in Somalia. The Somali LE Network is also expected to serve as a springboard for grant applications, events and workshops (with international scholars as well), new course development / programmatic innovations, and research innovation. 

ACTIVITY PROGRESS (Quantitative Impact)

In Summary and during the reporting period, a total of 9,910 people (5,091 male and 4,819 female) were reached by MRF projected year. The beneficiaries including women, youth, elders and representatives of local governments and community security structures. In addition,

CONSTRAINTS AND OPPORTUNITIES

Constraint #1: Changing dynamics of recruitment into violent extremist (VE) groups: Another trend has been reported and observed throughout the implementation period, especially in targeting and recruitment into violent extremist groups in the country. First and foremost, it was noted that violent extremists are now targeting vulnerable children in schools. Secondly, Al Shabaab recruiters are now targeting “unsuspected” villages like Beledweyne, Hirsahabele and Afmadou. During the period under review, some people were arrested in Shebele for allegedly luring youths and other vulnerable section of the population into Al Shabaab.

Constraint #2: The political situation in Somalia; politics in Somalia has been characterised by political and clan rivalries. Unfortunately, Kenya has been accused by Somalia clans for taking sides in clan rivalries by supporting Ogaden at the expense of others like Marehaan in Gedo region. This may complicate the position of Kenyan within AMISOM with cumulative effects being felt in Kenya especially the coastal region and North East where is densely populated by Muslims and Somalis.

PROGRESS ON GENDER STRATEGY

MRF Gender strategy is to facilitate and promote inclusive participation of community members in their respective communities in a bid to strengthen their resilience against conflict and violent extremism. The Somali state is being a patriarchal in nature, partners were and continued to be coached and mentored on mainstreaming gender throughout the implementation continuum. Programmatically, MRF interventions have continued to focus on reaching out to all men, women, youths and children, where applicable, with key anti-conflict and counter violent extremism messages to strengthening their resilience in countering radicalization for violent extremism indulgence. While all-inclusive intervention strategy is informed by the fact that conflict and violent extremism affects all social fabrics, all individuals and age groups differently, it also evident that all members of society are vulnerable to radicalization. Further, within the strategy, it is intentional that community beneficiaries have been targeted and selected with this in mind, to ensure men, women, and youths, both boys and girls, are part of the total reach.

PROGRESS ON ENVIRONMENTAL MITIGATION AND MONITORING

MRF environmental review established that it has very low risks hence categorical exclusion. MRF project activities were determined to have no significant adverse impacts, given specified mitigation and monitoring. All the activities (workshops, trainings, school visits, humanitarian support and mentorship Programmes) implemented during the reporting period were deemed to be of very low environmental risks thus the categorical exclusion.

PROGRESS ON LINKS TO OTHER USAID PROGRAMS

The MRF Programmes continues to initiate, build on, and consequently work with other sets of interventions supported by donors, in-kind funds, well-wishers and UN agencies in the Country. These have been achieved through partnership and collaborative efforts. For instance, during the period under review, the MRF particularly Peace and security Programme hosted by MRF provided an avenue and opportunities for learning and reflection on emerging issues, lessons learnt and challenges around democracy, governance, and conflict. Specifically, partners shared and compared notes regarding the various programs they are implementing. 

Since 2008; MRF has been providing humanitarian aid, assistance, protection, education, and healthcare and community empowerment to Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), refugees, returnees and displaced people and underprivileged local Somali communities to achieve peace, security, equality, social justice and socio-economic development.

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