The donor community will converge this Wednesday in Brussels for another funds pledge for Somalia, two years after a $2.4 billion pledge for the country’s reconstruction and development as part of the New Deal Compact.
The conference, which is jointly organised by the European Union and the refugee agency UNHCR is expected to marshal up to $1.3 billion donor pledges with UNHCR seeking $500 million to fund its refugee repatriation programme.
Regional countries, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Yemen will attend the conference in a bid to shore up donor support for Somalia whose refugee burden is largely shared by these countries.
UNHCR estimates more than 2 million Somalis have been displaced as a result of two decade conflict with another 1.1 million internally displaced. Some 967,000 Somalis are refugees in neighbouring countries with the largest-420,000 in Kenya’s Daadab camp.
Nearly 250,000 Somali refugees are living in Ethiopia and an estimated 200,000 in Yemen. However the on-going conflict in Yemen changed the course of events with Somalia now hosting refugees from Yemen in addition to Somali returnees.
But another round of donor pledges begs questions both from the government and donor community. The government of Somalia has on its part complained of donor insincerity asking them to meet their side of the bargain. It is not clear how much of the pledged amount has been delivered and how it has been spent.
The EU pledged 650m Euros, while the rest was to come from countries such as Denmark, Germany, Sweden and the UK in 2013. The EU contribution would be in addition to the $1.6bn it gave Somalia from 2008 to 2013.
The donors on the other hand have been cautious about dealing with Somalia over claims of financial improprieties, lack of solid fiscal management systems and a frail central bank.
The 2015 national budget was pegged at 49% donor funding but the government had to do with serious austere measures after the Arab League and Turkey withheld $60 million pledge. Turkey had in late 2013 stopped direct funds to the central bank after questions over transparency and accountability.
Even as the donors pledge more funds, questions linger whether those who did not honour their pledge will top up their pledges or stand by earlier pledges. Observers will also be looking out for any conditions on Somalia to ensure the funds are prudently used.