The Somaliland National Youth Organisation (SONYO Umbrella) is dedicated to mobilising and empowering young people in Somaliland. It is made up of young people, local nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), associations, community organisations, student committees in universities, educational institutes, colleges and secondary schools.
SONYO Umbrella is committed to the advocacy, development, capacity-building, mobilisation and coordination of Somaliland's young people and community, and plays a role in the political, economic and social development of Somaliland. Its thematic programmes address HIV and AIDS, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) eradication, the promotion and protection of human rights, non-formal education such as sports and culture, and environmental issues.
The only nationwide youth organisation in the Somaliland, SONYO was established in June 2003. Today it has more than 54 youth organisation members from the six regions of Somaliland: Hargeisa, Sahil, Awdal, Togdheer, Sool and Sanaag.
The aims of SONYO
a democratic and peaceful country that upholds basic freedom and human rights, enabling its youth to live to its full potential, free from hunger, illiteracy, and disease, as well as from discrimination based on traditional socio-cultural biases, and political marginalisation; a society that gives considerable thought and resources to the development of the youth regardless of gender so as to make them educated, skilled, and responsible citizens capable of realising their full potential; and a society free from drug use, HIV/AIDS, STD’s, and FGM.
SONYO works across various areas related to youth and their wellbeing. Specific programmes include:
- Capacity building and youth empowerment
- Human rights advocacy
- Protection and youth dialogue for peace and good governance
- Poverty reduction as Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) achievement tool
- Education and health
- Volunteerism and youth employment initiatives
- Sports and athletic activities
Examples of recent projects
- Leadership and organisational development project, through which more than 10,000 young people were reached.
- Mapping of member organisations and their division into thematic networks working on similar projects.
- Mentoring of 150 youth organisations for capacity development and professional growth.
- Youth Peer Education Programme through which SONYO trained 5,000 young people.
- Participatory Education Theatre Programme that has reached 20,000 adolescents.
- Succeeding in creating dialogues with the Somaliland parliament and executive branch, including the Presidency, and with political parties addressing young people’s political participation and elimination of legal barriers and age discrimination.
- Girl’s Leadership Development Initiative through which 3,000 young girls were reached, training them in valuable skills and enabling education.
- Youth Baseline Survey: the only nationwide survey which has been officially conducted in Somaliland. All further youth projects will be based upon these results. The survey was funded by Oxfam Novib.
- Creating Decent Work for Young People: SONYO trained 60 youth entrepreneurs, 15 of which, with the best business plans, received a grant of $1333.33.
- Conducted successful media programmes designed to influence the KAP of their youth society. These ranged from TV programmes to Newsletters.
- Human rights project with Progressio, bringing awareness and training.
Its mission is to work towards the creation of more progressive, youth-orientated and gender-sensitive organisations committed to the development of youth in terms of human rights, education, employment, health, culture, and sports.
SONYO has set plans that are projected to be achieved within the next five years. These plans include:
- To develop an effective, efficient and relevant planning, monitoring and evaluation system and organisational policy that will identify the needs of the umbrella and member organisations within one year.
- To contribute to the implementation of the National Youth Policy (SNYP).
- To take part in improvement the juvenile justice of the country.
- To enhance the planning, monitoring, evaluation, and policy formulation of the national secretariat, national council, and two leaders from each member organisation who will in turn develop the planning, monitoring and evaluation system and policies of their respective organisations.
- To increase the participation of young girls in the leadership of SONYO Umbrella and of member organisations. 40% of the secretariat membership shall be increased for young girls.
- To finalise a Clear Policy framework between SONYO and government, UN agencies and INGOs, which will enhance good information-sharing and effective collaboration, coordination and networking.
- To actively participate in drafting the National Youth Development Strategic Plan. This will pool all the support committed to the youth development and livelihood.
- Building of a resource and youth leadership centre in the space which was recently given to SONYO.
- Hosting of International Conference for the East African Youth Leaders on Peace and Development.
- Hosting of an International Conference for Sports and Development.