Garowe, Dec 16: For the second year in a row the Media Association of Puntland (MAP) in partnership with the International Media Support (IMS) has held the Puntland civil society gathering that aims to strengthen the collaboration of local CSOs groups on common yet current advocacy causes that seek to be addressed.
This year’s event was held on December 14 in Garowe at the PDRC conference facility, and it was attended by representatives from significant non-state actors including PYAN, PDRC, Kaalo, Tadamun, SIDRA, Y-PEER, Takulo, Talo-Wadaag, PSU University, Puntland Diaspora Forum (PDF), women activists, and media members, including the MAP secretariat.
Mohamed Dahir, MAP chair, who spoke on the goals of this now-annual meeting, emphasized the need for collaboration among CSOs, particularly in determining advocacy activities targeted at supporting human rights concerns, especially on issues surrounding freedom of expression/speech and media independence.
“This is the second time we’ve met, and the conference’s goals remain the same: to strengthen our collaboration by discovering potential synergies in our separate missions to address the difficulties facing our society today. This year, we welcome representatives from the Puntland Diaspora Forum, who also plan to hold a conference from December 19 to 21,’’ said Mohamed Dahir, Chair of MAP.
The Puntland Diaspora Forum (PDF) was pleased to be invited to the event the fact that it gave them an opportunity to interact with the major CSOs groups in Puntland which was among the main reasons for their visit to the State.
”Thank you for inviting us to this event, and we hope to listen to the different discussions, and we’ll make our contribution. He added ”we are pleased to announce that this year’s Puntland Diaspora Forum Summit will be hosted in Garowe Puntland Somalia next week, with our major objective being to organize civil society in support of the local democratic process, among other topics, Said Farah Aw Osman among the visiting delegates of PDF.
Participants discussed a wide range of issues, however, the following issues were noted as the main areas that the Puntland CSOs could join efforts in addressing;
Theme 1: CSO role in the upcoming Puntland Municipality elections; Participants concurred that a cohesive CSO organization that carefully monitors the electoral process as it takes place will be necessary to ensure the local democratization process is successful. Participants agreed that the media’s role in informing the public about the process and offering equitable coverage to the candidates in the race from different political parties is crucial, in addition to monitoring the process. The media was therefore advised to be ready, and act morally, and professionally, while MAP would take the lead in defending the right to free speech and media independence with the support of CSOs.
Theme 2: Puntland Droughts: Participants talked about how droughts have affected Puntland communities and decided to talk further later about the kinds of drought response activities that the participating CSOs may work on together.
Theme 3: Advocacy & Lobby for the Puntland Anti-FGM bill: As was mentioned during the meeting, the CSOs must use significant influence in order to advocate for the passage of the Anti-FGM bill. It is expected that a well-planned advocacy campaign would influence or put pressure on lawmakers to enact the legislation.
The three themes mentioned above were chosen as the primary areas in which the participating CSOs will engage in 2023. A first draft Workplan is being developed, which will specify the approach of the joint collaboration and any potential synergies.
Other points of discussion were the rise of drug addiction affecting the youth; unemployment; the quality of education in Puntland; gender-based violence; gaps in the expected Puntland diaspora role in contributing towards the development of the state, especially on business investments and health care.
This conference was hosted by MAP under the EU-supported ”Opening Civic & Democratic Space: Civil Society & Media Together project.