For many years Wajid district has been described as an ‘island of peace’ in the sea of conﬂict in south central Somalia.
The elected Mayor of Wajid is an example of a ‘non traditional’ Somali actor who has endeavoured to manage competing clan interests and maintain access for humanitarian assistance in the midst of violent political changes in south central Somalia, as described in this article.
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This article describes how peace was maintained in one district of south central Somalia through a unique collaboration involving a decentralised local authority and community elders, business leaders and women’s groups. Stability was maintained and humanitarian access sustained for over a decade as Wajid handled its interaction with different Somali political groups and a succession of different authorities, some of them the product of internationally-led peace processes.
The era of Rahanweyn Resistance Army
The formation of the RRA divided the community and resulted in bloody fighting among Wajid’s residents. One sub-clan, the Jirroon, supported Aideed’s USC-SNA while other sub-clans in the district stood by the RRA. Wajid was completely destroyed and burned by the RRA forces, civilians were killed and others forced to flee.
The era of the Transitional National Government
The 1990 Arta peace process, designed to form a national government, had a destabilising effect in Wajid. The RRA leadership split into two opposing factions over whether or not to participate. The local administration and the community leaders decided to take a stand against getting involved in any more armed conflicts in the Wajid area.
The era of the Transitional Federal Government
After the peace process led by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development in Kenya (2002-04) the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) was established. It included RRA representation and for a short time was based in Baidoa.
Factors contributing to Wajid's success
Equitable management of resources When humanitarian organisations decided to be based in Wajid district in 2002, the local authorities took precautionary steps to safeguard them and to avoid any internal conflicts. They agreed a set of ground rules to ensure an equitable spread of benefits. These included the fair regulation of rents, staff recruitment and tendering, all of which had potential to fuel hostilities between clans.