In 2012 Somalia lay at a crossroads. Two decades of war had left the region devastated, bereft of a functional government and without even the most basic services such as schools or clinics, a society shattered by violent extremism and conflict between rival clans and warlords.

The year heralded great change. African Union forces regained control of the capital Mogadishu, driving out insurgents from strongholds across the south, laying the groundwork for a fragile transition to the country’s first democratically elected administration.

Yet, in one of the most volatile and dangerous regions on earth, progress remained precarious and expectations low. In a context such as this, how do you establish even the most basic conditions essential to peace and stability?

Wasafiri’s Director and lead of our Stabilisation & Conflict Practice Area, Hamish Wilson was deployed to the British Embassy in the newly created post of Senior Stabilisation Adviser in early 2012. His most pressing requirement was to help bolster the precious political and security gains being made in newly recaptured cities across Southern Somalia. The challenge was made even more daunting by severe constraints on access and with few partners willing to work in the most dangerous areas.

In response, Hamish established a dedicated cross-departmental Stabilisation Team supported by a flexible funding mechanism – an innovation in the British Government’s stabilisation efforts worldwide. The team built a portfolio that grew rapidly to USD17m worth of projects delivered across seven of the hardest to reach and most strategically important locations in the region, playing a key role in:

  • Reconstructing offices and community centres in each of Mogadishu’s 16 districts
  • Rebuilding bridges, roads, stadiums and street lighting in 5 newly ‘liberated’ cities
  • Recovering over 1000 bombs and explosives in Baidoa
  • Restoring five community radio stations
  • Training 500 women and young men in vocational skills
  • Rebuilding over 10 markets supporting hundreds of new jobs
  • Tackling conflicts between the 6 major clans of the Central Regions
  • Building the capacity of the Ministry of Interior, President & Prime Minister’s Offices

Few organisations have been able to move as quickly or as responsively to the ever-changing situation in Somalia. As a result, the British Government has helped lay the foundations for the effective delivery of longer-term recovery efforts vital to eventual peace and stability.