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Somalia PM under fire for suspending $112 million World Bank projects

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somalia Prime Minister Hassan Khaire has on Saturday suspended World Bank projects targeting renovation of major towns, state media said, adding that the move will allow "review and inclusion".

Garowe, Mogadishu, Kismayo, and Baidoa were some of the towns earmarked for face-lifting.

World Bank through Somalia Urban Resilience Project had allocated $112 million for improvement of infrastructural development in the country.

Abdirahman Beileh, the federal finance minister, played a major role in procuring the fundamental funding, World Bank had said.

Cancellation to allow review

But without given many details, SONNA said the suspension by the PM would "allow review and inclusion of all regions."

But on social media, Somalis from Hirshebelle and Galmadug had questioned the omission of their regions from the grand project.

Besides Mogadishu, only Puntland, South-West, and Jubaland had been incorporated in the deal, officials confirmed.

Since 1992, Somalia has witnessed sluggish development due to persistent clan wars and terror threats waged by Al-Shabaab, World Bank noted.

Project approve in December 2019

SURP II was approved by the World Bank on December 9, 2019 ‘to deliver prioritized infrastructure in Somalia’s cities and strengthen municipal government capacity.’

The Bank noted plans would also be underway to lay the framework for the expansion of the project to cover Galmudug and HirShabelle states.

The funding, World Bank said, includes $50 million IDA and $62 million co-financing from the Somalia Multi-Partner Fund (SMPF).

Omar Fillish, the Mogadishu Mayor, had signed an implementation plan before the suspension of the mega project, local media reported.

World Bank's vision in Somalia

IDA is a division of the World Bank which offers low-cost loans and grants to heavily indebted countries. Somalia qualified for IDA financing in 2018.

Hugh Riddell, World Bank's Manager in Somalia, had in December said the project would "help to show that using country Public Financial Management systems and allowing local governments to take the lead in delivering services to their citizens can be extremely effective."

World Bank is a major lender to the Horn of Africa nation, which has struggled to stamp authority on her economy which is among the world's smallest in terms of GDP.

Currently, Somalia is also negotiating with the international community to write off $4.5 billion debts which threaten to derail growth, state media said.

Riddell added that "this project empowers municipal and district governments to deliver tangible benefits to their citizens."

Women among beneficiaries

And the cancellation could also have been triggered by a lack of public participation as envisioned by the World Bank.

The project, World Bank had noted, would help the community to "benefit from short-term labor opportunities and those to represent them within the grievance redress committees."

As such, World Bank had said, vulnerable members of the society such as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) would benefit from the project.

“The project will aim to ensure voices of the most vulnerable groups such as women, youth and the displaced are heard," Abdi Adam had said.

A series of meetings between state officials and citizens are now expected to unravel the impasse before World Bank changes mind, state officials added.


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