Briefing from ROAPE Volume 32 Number 104/5
Challenges of Decentralisation in Ethiopia's Somali Region
Ethiopia's Somali Regional State or region 5 represents a vivid testimony to the fruitless attempts to establish a functional administration in a border region drawn into constant political turmoil. Ever since the Somali region was granted its own 'autonomous' administration in 1993, state presence has remained embryonic in urban centres and has nearly been fictional in the rural areas. By the mid-1990s the need to establish effective local government, and the impediments militating against that drive, had been recognised. Yet the past decade passed without any noteworthy devolution of resources and power to the 51 wereda (districts) of the Somali region. As a result, the performance of the Somali region's public institutions has, up to this day, been far from impressive. Major towns such as Jijiga and Gode boast schools, medical facilities, a police force, and telecommunication services, the efficiency of which is questionable at best. Outside these urban centres, service delivery for the region's estimated 3.5 million inhabitants is limited to occasional food aid distribution and random interventions by security forces.