Somalia Media Hub for Peacebuilding and Human Rights Somalia Media Hub for Peacebuilding and Human Rights

This is a resource page intended for individuals and organisations who are currently working, or intend to work, to strengthen the role of media in Somalia’s transition from war to sustainable peace.  The page has been created in the context of the “Somalia Media Hub for Peacebuilding and Human Rights” project, which the:

Agency for Peacebuilding (AP) and the Horn Afrik News Agency for Human Rights (HANAHR) have implemented with the financial support of the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (IFA).

Banner for training of trainers in Mogadishu (HANAHR, 2023)


Somalia is in the midst of a social and political transition of momentous importance: following decades of war, the country has successfully launched a federalisation process that is currently gaining speed, and which has the ambition of reducing violent conflict and putting Somalis on the path towards economic development. Many obstacles remain, however, starting with the continued high levels of political violence.


The media can play an important role in Somalia’s transition. As we have seen in other countries, from Afghanistan to Burundi, the media can play a crucial role in promoting the participation and inclusion of different people and communities, and thus contributing to changing the narrative around state-building processes like the one unfolding in Somalia. Yet, while the support to peacebuilding efforts in Somalia has increased during the last ten years, very little efforts have been made to focus on the specific role and capacities of Somali media. And because of this, very little is still known about the media sector.


It is in response to this gap in available information that the “Somalia Media Hub for Peacebuilding and Human Rights” project was launched. Designed and implemented by AP and HANAHR, the project had the overall objective of strengthening Somali media’s role in supporting the country’s transition from war to peace. It pursued this objective by engaging a small group of journalists and increasing their knowledge of peacebuilding, and then helping them to create stories that put a spotlight on mediation and other positive changes that are taking place in the country.


The purpose of this page is to present the experience accrued during the implementation of this project, to bring attention to useful lessons learned, and to make the project’s resources available to others who are working, or would like to work, to strengthen the role of Somali media.

Somali female journalists (UNDP, 2021)

The Somali media sector between continuity and change

Somalia’s media landscape is undergoing epochal changes and today the country can boast a vibrant, even if fragmented, media culture. This said, the sector’s development remains affected by insecurity and heavily influenced by the unstable political environment and the complex history of the country.


During Siad Barre’s regime, from 1969 to 1991, all media was state controlled and it was only after his fall that privately owned outlets started to emerge. During this time, new media stations (mainly radio) were created as business ventures, and some as channels for political propaganda. Several outlets were set up also by the Somali diaspora, which has in general been a crucial force for promoting a more independent and professional media sector. In more recent years, there have also been small and incremental efforts to regulate the sector. Nevertheless, to this day reliable information about Somalia’s media sector, including its reach, remains difficult to gather.


As AP’s  research has shown, the media sector has grown and improved significantly. The media landscape, today, holds diverse mediums. In particular:

  • Radio still plays a dominant role;
  • Television is a largely urban phenomenon;
  • Print media are fading in most areas;
  • Internet use is growing exponentially, driven by the importance of mobile phones. This has also meant a boom in the use of social media, in particular among young people, although access to the Internet remains very limited.


It is important to highlight that the relative importance of media outlets changes depending on location. Across the Federal Member States (FGM) in Southern and Central Somalia, radio stations and television channels have a consolidated presence. All media organisations are private and state regulation is largely absent. Here, Islamist militias have as much influence on the media as formal legislation. In Puntland State, radio is the dominant media, but there are also various television channels. In Somaliland newspapers remain popular, alongside radio, and authorities there exercise stronger control on broadcasts.


The evolution of the media sector is affected by important challenges. To being with, Somali journalists continue to face many dangers, ranging from intimidation and harassment, to arrest, to sexual assault against female reporters and also murder. Financial resources in the sector are scant, forcing many journalists to abandon the profession. Lastly, media professionals have very limited professional capacities because of a lack of training and capacity building opportunities available to them. In the face of this, journalists have organised and formed several professional associations, which are very active, but whose work is also hindered by the above-mentioned challenges.


All of this translates into very limited contributions to peacebuilding. Somali media allow very little to no space for voices focused on peace, dialogue or reconciliation. As such, the overall narrative framework, in relation to Somalia’s transition, remains focused on violence and insecurity. And the media space in Somalia remains a contested space, where media professionals and outlets themselves can all too often be the ones marginalising other groups.


This is certainly the case of Somali women, whose participation and representativeness are largely determined by customary and social norms. Indeed, the great majority of Somali women do not have regular access to newspapers, radio or television. Women journalists are significantly underrepresented in Somali media houses and also in journalists’ associations and unions. They are also more likely to be victims of harassment. Opportunities for young people fare slightly better,, as they are generally seen to be well represented in the media sector. They also tend to be the ones benefiting  the most from the boom in Internet use.


Finally, there have been improvements in recent years, mostly on account of a recent increase in formal support for media development. Thanks to donor support, for example, outlets have emerged, which are all-women or women-led. This might be an indicator of more support to come, but it remains, so far, limited in scope and duration, often uncoordinated and ad hoc.


If you are interested in additional resources to better understand the Somali media landscape, please see the Resources section at the end of the page.

Participants in training of trainers in Mogadishu (HANAHR, 2023) 

Capacity-building and networking among Somali journalists

Strengthening the role of Somali media to positively support the country’s transition requires a focus on building the capacities of journalists and also promoting networking among journalists, especially from across different locations within Somalia.


Media professionals have very limited professional capacities because of a lack of training and capacity building opportunities available to them. In general, there are very few institutions that offer university-level media or journalism degrees, whereas professional or vocational training, usually offered by United Nations (UN) agencies or international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), are mostly short-term and subject to funds availability.


There is also a growing concern over the increasing number of media practitioners with limited knowledge of the field, while many of the educated journalists have left the country in recent years. This has left a void that has largely been filled by self-made journalists, with little professional training and experience. There is, in general, a dire need for media professionals with adequate experience and knowledge, to develop a better understanding of the important role of the media and to promote professional journalistic standards.


“In Somaliland today, the only qualification you need to be a journalist is Internet access and a smartphone”

Young female media professional in Hargeisa


In this context, providing training opportunities is fundamental. And it is for this reason that, as part of the project, HANAHR brought together a group of 20 Somali journalists for a three-day training in Mogadishu. The general objective of the training was to strengthen the capacities of the journalists with knowledge, capacities and skills on peacebuilding and conflict-sensitive reporting. The training focused on conflict dynamics, and awareness with the aim to foster or mitigate violence, and it adopted an adult learner-centred and facilitator-led approach, which also included sample news modelling and analysis, presentations and group work. The participants were drawn from journalists who are already working in different media stations (radio, TV, Internet) from across three locations in Somalia (Hargeisa, Garowe and Mogadishu).


Participants in the training confirmed that they appreciated the focus on new knowledge and the skills they learned during the event. In this respect, the project was found to have successfully achieved its intended objectives, and at the same time, there were no major mentionable challenges. The external evaluation found that the project’s strategies of combining theoretical knowledge with training capabilities proved useful and effective. According to all the journalist interviews, the project achieved this as interviewed journalists noted one or two things they learned and new skills they adapted.


“I learned new skills. I was updated on the field of media and peacebuilding, which increased my knowledge on peacebuilding, media coverage and ethical considerations.”

Female journalist (private media outlet), Garowe


“I gained new skills about the linkages between media and peacebuilding. These types of programs are very useful for society, instead of focusing on politics…the sessions helped increase my knowledge and understanding of the implications of media and peacebuilding. I used the skills to conduct interviews with the peacebuilders.”

Female journalist (private media outlet), Hargeisa


If you are interested in additional resources on capacity building for Somali journalists, please see the Resources section at the end of the page.

Somali female facilitators leading awareness-raising event in Hargeisa (HANAHR, 2023)

Media spotlight on mediation and peacebuilding

Somali media are not seen as contributors to peacebuilding, not presently. Issues relating to peace, dialogue and reconciliation do not generally make it on the air, and the only exception is given by interventions that are funded with specific peacebuilding goals, which are still uncommon and always funded by external donors. The available analyses of media content confirm that media coverage of what happens in Somalia tends to focus almost exclusively on keywords such as violence, instability and terrorism.


Somali media can influence the narrative that describes the transition efforts, but to do so requires increasing the number of stories devoted to peacebuilding and human rights. It is in relation to this that HANAHR and AP have decided to create a series of media outputs putting the spotlight on mediation. Specifically, HANAHR produced three interviews with community-based mediators from Hargeisa, Garowe and Mogadishu.


The first interview was with Halima Digale Ahmed, a traditional peace mediator in Hargeisa.



Halima Digale Ahmed, traditional peace mediator


The second interview was Farhia Yusuf, traditional peace mediator in Garowe, Puntland State.


“We engage with fathers and mothers and try to resolve their issues amicably, and at clan level, we meet each clan separately to figure out dispute points and conflicting interests, so if it is a rural clan, we apply the under-the-tree negotiation method and if it is in the city we gather in a meeting point where we mediate through fair negotiations that lead eventually to peace.”

Farhia Yusuf, traditional peace mediator


The third interview was with Macalin Yacquub, a traditional peace mediator in Mogadishu.


“You must have the capacity and patience to listen to what these furious people are saying. To be also able to listen to the other party, which can be very challenging to do.”

Macalin Yacquub, traditional peace mediator


These interviews are testament to a practice—mediation—that has been ongoing in Somalia as much as that of violence. Only, the media has focused so far only on violence. Media outputs like the ones before can therefore help to balance the negative stories and, eventually, influence the narrative that has accompanied Somalia since the civil war.


Overall, the final evaluation found that the project’s foundational strategies were effective in supporting its sustainability and impact, by producing an informed and trained journalism class, which, in turn, had the capability to train and educate their colleagues, and at the same time, develop news stories and articles with a peacebuilding angle. The project did lead to the publication of many original stories, beyond the videos mentioned above, and for various outlets in Garowe, Hargeisa and Mogadishu. Importantly, the journalists who took part in the project are motivated to continue working to produce stories focused on peacebuilding, even after the end of the project.


“Yes, I apply the knowledge I gained, as it has become a guideline for me. It helps to guide my reporting. We avoid the things we learn to avoid that which violates media ethics. We focus on neutral reporting. I always use the skills and awareness on media reporting in my work today.”

Male journalist (private media outlet), Mogadishu


If you are interested in additional resources on media coverage of peacebuilding, human rights and other positive stories, please see the Resources section at the end of the page.

Somali poet Hinda Roble (HANAHR, 2023)

Changing narratives through poetry

Poetry plays a very important role in Somali culture, and is very popular across all of the country. Poets are publicly recognized: they have authority and legitimacy, and poems can be important vessels for social messages, including on peace. Poetry is widely disseminated also through media, where it has been used as an effective way to share reliable information and reconciliation messages.


Lastly, poetry can be a tool for women empowerment. Somali women are, in fact, well known for composing Buraanbur, a form of poetry traditionally composed and recited by women. There are many experiences where women stood up for peace by reciting Buraanbur through media, to mitigate tensions between clans and spread messages of peace and co-existence.


Poetry was used also in the context of the project, as an opportunity to expand the reach of messages about the importance of peace and reconciliation. Three poems have been recorded and disseminated, from three different poets.


The first poem was written by Hinda Roble.



The second poem was composed by Abwaan Xasiliye.



The second poem was composed by Hodan Abdirizak.


“Together we strive, United we stand, Divided we fall.”

Hinda Roble, poet


If you are interested in additional resources on the use of poetry for peacebuilding and human rights, please see the Resources section at the end of the page.

Resources and contacts

This final section provides some resources for those interest in working to support Somali media. Some of these resources were created by the project; others were collected from other sources and included based on the relevance they have for the themes and the lessons learned through the project. All resources are open-source.


On the Somali media landscape:

Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding in Somalia”, Research Report, Agency for Peacebuilding (2023)


On capacity-building of journalists:

Training of Trainers for Somali Journalists”, Event Report, Agency for Peacebuilding (2023)

Verification and New Narratives on Fact-Checking for African Journalists”, Handbook, Casa Africa (2021)


On media coverage of peacebuilding and human rights:

Interview with Macalin Yacquub, traditional peace mediator in Mogadishu”, Viedo, HANAHR (2023)

Interview with Halima Digale, traditional peace mediator in Hargeisa”, Video, HANAHR (2023)

Interview with Farhia Yusuf, traditional peace mediator in Garowe”, Video, HANAHR (2023)


On the use of poetry:

Abwaan Xasiliye’s poem about peace”, Video, HANAHR (2023)

Hinda Roble’s poem about peace”, Video, HANAHR (2023)

Hodan Abdirizak’s Poem for Peace in Somalia”, Video, HANAHR (2023)

Can poetry bring peace?”, Article, UNDP (September 2021)


Any inquiries about the resources hereby presented, or about the project, can be sent to HANAHR ( or to the Agency for Peacebuilding (


Lastly, as AP and HANAHR will continue to work to promote peacebuilding in Somalia, both in the media sector and beyond, please consider signing up to our newsletters.


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