Ten years after its creation, the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) is still grappling with low troop levels and inadequate funding and equipment.
Amisom entered Mogadishu in March 2007, with an initial 6,000 Ugandan troops. Today, it needs an additional 28,000 troops.
At an extraordinary meeting in Nairobi last week to take stock of the peacekeepers’ achievements and challenges in the past decade, Amisom’s top leadership admitted that some of its programmes had stalled because of lack of funding.
Although the militia group Al Shabaab has been driven out of major towns, Amisom is still struggling to maintain the liberated areas and secure the main supply routes.
The peacekeepers have now devised a new approach termed “Doing Much With Less,” as donor fatigue becomes apparent.
Head of Amisom Francisco Madeira, who is also the African Union Special Representative to Somalia, said the mission is finding it increasingly difficult to fund its programmes.
“Not all project plans could be implemented, either because we dreamt too much and thought we could do everything, or we trusted our partners so much that we thought they would fund everything,” he said.
Mr Madeira did not name specific programmes but said that non-funding has forced Amisom to devise austerity measures in order to cope.
“One has to plan realistically, for the things that can be done, in terms of means and resources. We should consider planning only the things that can be implemented.
“Donors think stabilising Somalia is a task of the AU, so they get fatigued. Donor fatigue shouldn’t arise. It’s the duty of all of us to make Somalia a functional state. Let’s be partners,” he added.
The meeting discussed key areas that included support for political processes in Somalia, the security sector, stabilisation and recovery, and protection of human rights.
The report will be discussed by experts later this month, and recommendations submitted to the AU Commission Chair for consideration by the AU Peace and Security Council.
In January last year, the European Union reduced the $200 million annual stipend to Amisom troops, urging the continental body to find alternative sources of funds, but the AU is unable to fully fund the slightly over 21,000 troops from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti and Ethiopia.
Albrecht Braun, a representative of the EU-ACP (European Union – Africa, Caribbean Pacific), said that the EU will remain engaged in Somalia to contribute to stabilisation and peace.
He said the EU provided $1.68 billion to Amisom between 2004 and 2017, with a further $189.5 million earmarked for April to December this year.
“That clearly demonstrates our continued commitment to Amisom. It is also important to mobilise additional financial support from other donors and specifically from African governments and other partners. Peace and stability is a collective effort,” said Mr Braun.
Hubert Price, the head of the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), said Amisom should focus on critical areas of support and resource management. UNSOS provides support to military bases with logistics, travel, stipends and training for troops and police, rations and supplies.
Amisom is currently working on an exit strategy, with the drawdown beginning in the second half of 2018 in preparation for complete withdrawal by the end of 2020.
For this to happen, at least 30,000 Somalia National Army troops need to take over from Amisom. Currently, 10,014 SNA soldiers are engaged in joint operations in Mirtuugo in Middle Shabelle, and Abdali Birole, in Lower Jubba.