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September 22nd – 24th , 2021 (ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia): The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) with the support of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) convenes a meeting on Civil Society Engagement to Support Cross Border Land Governance Programming in Addis Ababa.

The purpose of the meeting is to strengthen regional convergence by improving land governance in the Somali Cluster through inclusive conflict sensitive land use and management. The Somali cluster covers Mandera County of Kenya, Somali Regional State of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, and Gedo region of Jubbaland State of the Federal Republic of Somalia.

The three days meeting brought together over 13 civil society organizations working in the Somali cluster specifically in the areas of Jigjiga, Dollo Ado, Dollo, Belet Hawa, and Mandera. The organizations present included: Save the Environment Ethiopia (SEE), Pastoralists Concern, OWDA and OPPD working in the Somali Regional State of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, ADA, SRDA, ADR, JUMAN, ADP and Kaalmo working in the Gedo Region, Jubbaland State of the Federal Republic of Somalia, and Mandera Women For Peace and Development, RECONCILE and CRDD working on the rangelands in the region.The CSOs shared their experiences and lessons on the cross border and identified plans and strategies to partner and collaborate with IGAD in improving land governance in the Cluster.

Speaking for IGAD Executive Secretary, Mr Mohamed Moussa, Director of Agriculture and Environment Division noted that “IGAD has embarked on new ways of work to build and strengthen its work with the Member States by ‘taking IGAD to the people.’ This calls for strategic partnerships with Member States and communities through civil society organizations”

He highlighted that “CSOs are important in promoting sustainable in-country interventions to promote people centered, conflict and gender sensitive land governance founded on the best practices espoused in the regional and international land policy frameworks. The CSOs are strategic in connecting and mobilizing communities and other actors to influence land governance. Today’s meeting is therefore signaling a start of a great journey to transform land governance in the IGAD clusters through multi-stakeholders’ approach”.

The overarching objective of the meeting was to help the IGAD Land Governance Program to achieve greater results and impacts by strengthening its mechanisms for participation and coordination with CSOs in implementing the Somali Cluster project. The specific objectives were two folds: Strengthen the IGAD Land Governance Program’s capacity to build cooperative working modalities with CSOs in the Somali cluster and promote staff interactions with CSOs in a way that enhances the Land Governance Program work and contributes to the effectiveness of the Somali Cluster land governance project.

The workshop developed a road map for October – December 2021 in terms of laying the foundation for partnerships and robust engagements in the project implementation. The CSOs developed areas of collaboration based on their mandates and competence. This is the first step towards developing strategic partnerships and mobilizing and connecting stakeholders in the cluster for gender and conflict transformative land governance. The next multi-stakeholders meeting on pastoralism and land governance is scheduled for December 2021.

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