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Minority Inclusion Learning Review of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland – Programmes in the Horn of Africa

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Executive Summary

This report was commissioned to enable the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs to better understand the impacts of its programme interventions on different ethnic, religious, linguistic communities within the target beneficiary populations in the Horn of Africa. The commitments of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to ‘Leave No One Behind’ and ‘Reach the Furthest Behind First’ have underlined the existing, in principle, inclusion imperative for many. The report provides a lens through which it is possible to better understand the extent of the operationalisation of the Leave No One Behind principle with specific reference to inclusion of and benefits to ethnic, religious, linguistic minorities and those affected by descent-based discrimination of the Swiss funded aid and development interventions.

Many actors in this region have been concerned about inclusion and equity for some time, particularly with respect to Somalia/Somaliland, based on (largely anecdotal) reports of unintended consequences of aid on minority groups, aid diversion, exclusion from aid and continuing patterns of discrimination and marginalisation. The reports suggesting that discrimination remains largely unaddressed (or may even be worsening) in societies where aid is a mainstay of the local economy, led to questions as to whether aid is, at least in part, far from leaving no one behind, implicit or complicit in maintaining such structures. However, hard data was lacking and there was a strong reluctance to ask direct questions, indeed many sources were of the opinion that asking such questions was either unfeasible or so illadvised that it would garner no useful information or lead to repercussions against either enumerating teams or interviewees.

Swiss government interventions in the Horn of Africa (HoA) cover three different contexts:
Somalia/Somaliland, North Eastern Kenya, and Somali Regional State in Ethiopia. Despite significant challenges in all contexts, the study set out to, and was successful in, reviewing beneficiary reach and inclusion in all three locations through a minority lens.

The study found that at the level of policy, the Swiss programmes had regular references to the importance of inclusion, and this was a strong principle mainstreamed together with a human rightsbased approach and do no harm through almost all documentation. However, where operationalised, inclusion often referred to “vulnerable” or “marginalised” groups that were not well defined (or not defined at all). References to inclusion, where expanded upon and made concrete, were almost always limited to gender, with some attention to age (i.e., youth), but almost none to either disability or ethnicity/minority status. Indicators very rarely disaggregated beneficiaries/rights holders by any characteristic beyond gender and monitoring and evaluation systems did not require either data disaggregated beyond gender, nor any holistic analysis of the effects of the intervention on power relations, the local political economy or any other wider review that might have surfaced impacts on social exclusion or inclusion dynamics. The impact of any Swiss policies, implementing frameworks and monitoring and evaluation, would in any event be mediated by implementing organisations; and in the case of Somalia/Somaliland, this is not simple as, for the most part it has involved the Swiss making contributions to efforts funded multilaterally and implemented primarily by UN entities with established and relatively inflexible systems.

It is important to note at the outset that our findings are not that Swiss aid is less effective than any other similar actors in reaching those left behind; the patterns of power and exclusion and impact on interventions documented in this study are reminiscent of many others that MRG has encountered worldwide. The only difference between the Swiss and any other donor is that they were brave enough to open themselves to this level of scrutiny. In Somalia/Somaliland, in particular, the Swiss funds are largely pooled with those of other donors and the conclusions reached here apply to most, if not all, donors (with some notable exceptions in the form of selected INGOs and local NGOs).
In Somalia/Somaliland, the research revealed distinct patterns of minority experience that differed from the population at large:

• Those in primarily minority settlements had higher food insecurity

• But were less likely to be receiving food aid/cash or stamps for food

• They were much more likely to work as casual labourers

• Where identified as beneficiaries they were recruited in ways that were different

• They identified different sources of problems for their community and different security risks

• They got their information from different sources (the radio) and were much less likely to be consulted or to attend community meetings

• Minority settlement respondents were less likely to know how to complain, less likely to have made a complaint and where they had complained were more likely to report that no action had resulted.

• They were less likely to have attended any post-secondary education.

• Importantly, a majority of all sources (i.e., not just minorities) confirmed that they were aware of specific instances of aid diversion.

• However, those in minority settlements were as likely to own an analogue mobile phone and they did not live further from educational, health or sanitary facilities.