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Campaigning in Somalia

One of my recurrent themes for this blog over the years has been my fascination and amazement at the fact that the language of campaigning is truly international.

I recently put that theory to the test again by undertaking an assignment for Saferworld in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland.

Over a five day period I ran a two day advocacy course followed by a three day train the trainers’ course so that the participants could take the training out to their communities and inspire advocacy action.

The audience was representatives from the three non-state actor platforms in Somaliland (SONSAF), Puntland (PUNSAA) and South and Central Somalia (SONSCENSA). These platforms consisted of member organisations ranging
from community groups to business associations.

On my trip out to Somaliland via Nairobi I did feel somewhat apprehensive. This was one of the most challenging environments for advocacy campaigning – would my messages resonate with them?

But my feelings of apprehension were soon swept away as a focus on problem and solution, evidence, messaging, allies, influence trees, using opposition and a theory of change seemed to work with them.

Even the elevator pitch – 15-30 seconds to convey your key campaign message – seemed to work although we struggled for a while with the Somali translation for elevator pitch.

Then the train the trainers section proved to be inspiring to me as the platforms began to construct their own training in their own words so that they could take the training out themselves.

But above all I was left with an overriding impression of passionate and committed people driven to promote the role of civil society in making a difference to people’s lives and futures and committed to using advocacy methods to achieve this change.

Advocacy campaigning really is an international language.