Somalia’s National Programme for Disengaged Combatants Learns from Rwanda’s Experience

Key Contact
Benjamin Burckhart
Start Date
End Date
Funding Amount
$ 39,317
Knowledge-providing Countries
Knowledge-receiving Countries


To bolster  efforts in implementing the National Programme for Disengaged Combatants in Somalia, the World Bank initiated a “Knowledge and Experience Exchange Study Tour” that enabled a delegation from the Federal Ministry of Interior and National Security, African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) to learn from Rwanda’s successful Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (RDRC).


The processes of national reconciliation and peacebuilding following two decades of war and turmoil in Somalia will bring a whole new set of challenges, especially given the easy access to weapons and presence of armed groups. Guided by the Somali Compact, an overarching strategic framework for coordinating political, security, and development efforts for peace and state-building activities the Government is implementing the National Programme for Disengaging Combatants, which establishes a “comprehensive process through which fighters can disengage in conformity with international law and human rights and provides targeted reintegration support.” Given the security situation in Somalia, the government is advancing with caution, focusing its efforts primarily on building the capacity and the technical expertise of its institutions. While the key stakeholders attach high priority to the demobilization and reintegration (D&R) process in Somalia, there are deficiencies in polices, institutional framework, and the operational capacity.


One of the ways in which Somalia is addressing the challenges is through learning from countries that have successfully disarmed and demobilized. In this context, the objective of the exchange was to facilitate the transfer of RDRC’s knowledge and experience to Somali officials, to provide capacity building support, and to seek potential areas for medium to long term assistance to Somalia’s demobilization process through South-South cooperation

The Somali delegation consisted of four officials from the National Programme for Disengaging Combatants and the Federal Ministry of National Security. The participants were selected, in close consultation with the government, from among those directly involved in the development and design of the National Programme. Given the regional and international aspects, the Bank team also involved AMISOM and UNSOM in the study tour. It is expected that the AU, a key partner in Somalia, will eventually become the lead body for D&R efforts in Africa.

The study tour took place November 2-8, 2014. The tour consisted of two main activities: a five day workshop that featured presentations by RDRC and roundtable discussions; and visits to RDRC project sites. Thematic areas covered included demobilization and reintegration, vocational training, vulnerable groups, psycho-social issues, disability and medical programming and mainstreaming, and D&R management information system. Following each session, the participants consolidated the theory and consultations by visiting project implementation sites – several agriculture and livestock cooperatives jointly managed and worked by ex-combatants and community members. There, the participants interacted with the former combatants to understand firsthand their experiences.

Mr. Said Sudi, Director of Somalia’s National Programme for Disengaged Combatants, remarked, “It is very encouraging to see that Rwanda has implemented such a difficult program with great success. Rwanda was confronted with similar challenges to those that we face today, and we are convinced that learning from their experiences will help us.”


The exchange had three main results, which can be listed as short-term, mid-term, and long-term:

  • Short-term: Enhanced technical capacity and knowledge of participants from the National Programme for implementing their tasks.
  • Mid-term: Improved teamwork within the National Programme core technical team.
  • Long-term: Increased institutional coordination among partners: the National Programme Office at the Ministry of Interior and National Security, UNSOM, AMISOM, and the World Bank.

Lessons Learned

From their collective experience, participants and Bank team identified the following lessons and recommendations:

  • Ensure that the activity primarily targets technical level officials, together with a limited number of political level officials (one or two) as political level officials might change more often than technical officials.
  • Coordination: Identify one technical level contact from both the knowledge provider and recipient during the planning of the exchange activity and keep them involved throughout the process.
  • Logistical aspects might be challenging particularly in countries where travel is restricted due to security, therefore identification of team assistants in both recipient and provider country is a must.
  • If the location allows, split each day of the study tour between theoretical discussion and site visit to consolidate the exchange of learning and lessons with actual visits to activity centers. Participants visited a vocational training center after the discussing the ways of creating effective vocational training programs for ex-combatants.
  • Assign team roles and responsibilities ahead of the activity and ensure these are followed during implementation (note taking, reminding time for presentations and other activities, etc.).
  • Prepare a brief study tour guide with details of logistics, agenda, expectations, etc. and share this guide at least one week before the activity.
  • Limit the role of Bank to facilitating the exchange and only where necessary, include sharing technical knowledge.  

World Bank Group Contribution

The Bank initiated the process for the study tour. In addition, the technical team from the Bank-administered Transitional Demobilization and Reintegration Program (TDRP) prepared presentations on technical areas to support the knowledge provider and facilitated the discussions and the exchange in general. The South-South Exchange Facility provided the financing for the activity, which cost $ 39,295.47.


Moving Forward

This knowledge exchange formed part of capacity building support provided to the Government on D&R through a close partnership involving the United Nations, African Union and the World Bank. As noted by the head of the delegation, Mr. Sudi, the next steps involve developing a capacity-building strategy that will guide national projects and programs in collaboration with international and regional partners, so their successes can help inform Somalia’s reconstruction and recovery efforts. The Bank will continue to be involved in the process in Somalia through the ongoing African Union DDR Capacity Program, a multi-partner program.


The participants identified a number of best practices that can be adapted and transferred to Somalia’s situation, and discussed the way forward for collaboration with Rwanda. Specifically, the participants focused on communications, raising awareness, and reintegration, with a particular attention to vulnerable groups such as women and children, psycho-social and disability issues.

“We realized that as much as these programs target individuals, it is also important to keep in mind the community aspect. Our meetings with these former combatants emphasized the need to promote social cohesion within the programs we create,” commented H. E. Zahra Samatar, Somalia Minister of Women and Human Rights.

“The experiences of other countries like Rwanda provide applicable programming lessons for vulnerable groups. We were able to witness what the program here achieved, and we heard from those who implemented the activities,” noted another Somali participant.

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