Research Department Working Paper n°51

Employment programs and conflict in Somalia

The notion that employment can contribute to peace is the explicit backdrop to a large number of employment programmes in conflict-affected states. However, there is lack of knowledge on the links between employment programmes and peace and on which programme designs maximise impact. This research investigates the role played by employment programs in reducing willingness of people to engage in violence in Somalia.

From an analysis of qualitative and quantitative interviews with around 200 program beneficiaries in the districts of Bosasso (Puntland), Berbera (Somaliland) and Baidoa (South Somalia), this research found that the two analysed ILO employment programs, despite not having a direct peacebuilding goal, reduced support for violence among Somali youth beneficiaries, from 16 to 6 percent.
Three channels linking participation in the employment program to reduction in violence played a role in Somalia: the economic opportunity, contact and grievances. First, the analysis showed that the skills provided by the ILO employment programs had a positive impact on respondents’ labour market outcomes. Secondly, the employment programs brought people together, and strengthened opportunities for dialogue among people from different clans and sub-clans as well as between men and women, broke down stereotypes and increased social cohesion. Finally, the inclusiveness and transparency of the ILO employment programs, which aimed to improve equality in opportunities, as well as the quality and rights at work, addressed individual grievance. Via these three channels, the employment programs reduced support for armed violence in Somalia. Policy recommendations for future action in Somalia are derived based on quantitative and qualitative analysis of the two employment programs.