Request for Proposals- Consultant Services for a Multi-Regional Somalia Land Conflict Research Facility (SSFMR-042-C01)

The Somalia Stability Fund (SSF) is a multi-donor fund working towards a peaceful, secure, and stable Somalia. It offers Somali stakeholders a source of multi-year funding that can respond to local needs and opportunities.

The Stability Fund aims to contribute to enhancing stability in Somalia through the following programmatic outputs:

  1. Fault-lines for political conflict (FGS-FMS, inter & intra state) are identified and appropriately addressed
  2. Enhanced popular participation in governance, particularly for women and excluded communities
  3. Increased government visibility and community engagement
  4. Reduced community vulnerability to conflict
  5. Throughout 2021, SSF will prioritise three broad areas; sub-national democratisation, district council formation, and reconciliation

SSF invites eligible and qualified entities (“Bidders”) to submit proposals in response to this RFP for the Provision of Consultant Services for a Multi-Regional Somalia Land Conflict Research Facility (SSFMR-042-C01).


In order to address this wide-ranging issue of land conflict, SSF wishes to procure a consultant under a framework contract to provide research into land conflict in Somalia. Under this type of contract, the Fund would procure a consultant with whom individual pieces of research can be determined and undertaken.

It is anticipated that between one and three pieces of research will be conducted through this framework agreement, with the intention that through deeper understanding and analysis, a targeted theory of change can emerge that can guide effective interventions for land conflict transformation.

Likely research pieces include:

  • · Research 1: Comprehensive literature review
  • · Research 2: Understanding the intersection between contemporary political state formation and the manifestation of land conflict
  • · Research 3: Lessons learning from effective land dispute resolution in Somalia and beyond

Of the three research pieces, the literature review will be the first to be undertaken, and drawing upon findings here, will guide and help refine the scope and parameters of pieces 2 and 3 which may be subject to revision.

Research 1- Literature review: To perform a literature review on the issue of land conflict in Somalia and identify the main facets of land conflict, the current thinking, understanding and analysis around these facets, identify gaps in analysis and the prevailing challenges as understood by the literature pertaining to land conflict that require redress.

Despite a plethora of literature, the identification of an effective mechanism for resolving land conflict remains elusive. The Somalia Stability Fund, in recognising the centrality of the land question to contemporary political conflict and long term political and social reconciliation, intends to devise an effective theory of change that can work to address the issue of land conflict in a transformative manner. Any theory of change or design of an intervention will need to be cognisant of the contextual limitations, obstacles and opportunities. A starting point for this, is the completion of a comprehensive literature review.


  • Review current literature on land conflict on Somalia
  • Identify and consolidate existing literature on land conflict in Somalia and order it along key thematic areas: rural, urban and peri-urban, economic dimensions of land conflict, land conflict resolution practices and challenges, institutional obstacles to land conflict, historical land conflict, land, rights and residency and how this relates to conflict.
  • Identify gaps in the existing literature related to land – what i.e., what issues are their substantive gaps in understanding and analysis?

Land Research 2: What is the intersection between contemporary Somali state formation political processes and the manifestation of land conflict?

The introduction of new forms of political governance and power sharing are creating new incentives for land conflict or land appropriation and are shifting the power, status and influence in both positive and negative ways for social groups. While there has been anthropological research into cultural understandings of residency and clan homeland, there is a need to situate this in relation to contemporary state formation process and how state formation and the establishment of governance units through federalisation and district council formation may be influencing the importance and salience of these ideas around residency, clan homeland, the subsequent impact on political rights and inclusion in real terms and what this means for the escalating value of land and pursuit of land acquisition.

By understanding the intersection between land ownership, residency and political power/representation it may help shed light on the drivers of land appropriation and in turn opportunities to mitigate this through inclusive and managed state formation processes. This may be particularly insightful and intersect with SSF supported work in the field of District Council Formation and sub-national democratisation, which may fuel motivations for establishing new districts and new villages

The research would not just look at the phenomenon of land appropriation but also issues of historical and clan heritage of land ownership and how facts on the ground in terms of historical presence on land has become a contributory determinant of local power allocation and distribution.

Specifically, the research should seek to answer:

  • How does the current model of state formation and the way that power, political representation, and the 4.5 clan power sharing model influence conflict over land?
  • What is the connection between land ownership and political representation in Somalia? What is it about this relationship that makes contemporary land appropriation salient? How does this motivation to acquire land/control territory manifest at the local level and the formation of villages and districts? How does it shape rural political norms? (for example, the interaction between pastoralist groups and settled agriculturalists) How does it influence FMS formation or conflict over the status of Benadir or any other political unit and the authority or power that it holds or how it is shared?
  • How do the notions of clan homeland and contemporary and historical understandings of residency relate to the importance of land ownership and in turn, how does this relate to contemporary state formation and modalities of political representation?
  • If there is a link between political state formation processes and land conflict? Why is advancing and expanding a groups’ ownership or residency of land perceived as critical to advancing political power and gaining dominance? What is it about political processes that incentivises land conflict, land appropriation or territorial protectiveness, and in turn, are there mechanisms that could remove these incentives or actively disincentivise land appropriation?
  • Are there any ways in which the relationship between land and political power can be managed so that it does not manifest as conflict or the need to appropriate land from others?
  • To what extent could the design of democratisation, local governance and state formation processes contribute to or mitigate against land conflict? Is there a need to consider how voter registration, district council formation or other democratisation or state-building processes may encourage or hinder land conflict?

Research 3: Lessons learning from effective land dispute resolution in Somalia and beyond: What works and what can be done?

While much research has elaborated on the institutional limitations and challenges of effective dispute resolution over land ownership, little attention has been paid to identifying the spaces, mechanisms and parameters where land conflict dispute resolution has been effective. The experience of land conflict varies greatly across Somalia and Somali regions more broadly. Furthermore, Somalia is not the first country that has endured protracted conflict to have experienced land conflict. By capturing and understanding instances of effective land dispute resolution from within and beyond Somalia, the intention is to identify potential tools that could be replicated to positive effect.

Research should look at the following:

  • Document and evidence effective (or most effective) mechanisms of land dispute resolution currently applied in Somalia/Somali regions. This should examine all available dispute resolution mechanisms both formal and informal in nature, as well as looking at mechanisms that have religious, cultural or historical dimensions.
  • Identify if there were historical tools deployed in Somalia that were effective – for example, land registry or other formal systems that were effective and could be revived.
  • Investigate the current location, usage and validity of the historical land registry.
  • Identify if there are any specific factors that contribute to the effectiveness of a successful land dispute resolution – for example, the adjudicating authority, the cultural salience of the mechanism, enforcement, geographic location, land value, political significance of the land in question, clan homogeneity/heterogeneity, clan power asymmetry between contesting stakeholders.
  • Identify land dispute resolution mechanisms drawn from best practice in other fragile and conflict affected states to identify whether there may be approaches that could have value in Somalia. Research could be quite targeted in focusing on technical mechanisms for addressing the gap in land management – i.e., exploring how to re-establish land registry mechanisms in a space of protracted institutional fragility? or h resolving land conflict in the aftermath of violent political conflict by drawing on other country experiences and how they have fared. These deep-dives would need to be cognisant of the Somali contextual and institutional landscape, are consider whether experiences elsewhere may be applicable to the Somali setting?
  • Explore approaches to addressing land conflict and appropriation from other country experiences. For example, where land has been appropriated by formerly conflicting communities but multiple generations previously, such that the facts on the ground have materially changed in ways that could not readily be reversed, how has this been dealt with? What transitional justice mechanisms have been deployed to tackle historic land appropriation, such as reparations? If ‘right of return’ is not feasible, what are some of the alternatives that are deployed elsewhere?
  • When looking at historical claims to land ownership – what are these claims, what are they based upon? Are any of these actively being resolved in any way in Somalia, by any authority or community? If so – how?
  • Even if there were technical mechanisms to address land disputes, what kind of opposition may be encountered in the quest to implement such technical resolutions or enact enforcement of final decisions by an adjudicating body?
  • Are there potential ‘new-tech’ solutions for evidencing land transfers and mitigating land conflict. For example, distributed legers such as block-chain? Have they been applied elsewhere to positive effect?
  • With reference to Somalia’s contextual dynamics, institutional limitations and the political economy of interests vis-a-vis land ownership, make recommendations on the suitability of different models in mediating or addressing land conflict in Somalia. Any proposal that considers land dispute resolution mechanisms will need to be closely accompanied with thinking on how best to effect and enforce land dispute resolutions.

Approach and Methodology

The research should ensure a gender and social inclusion lens is applied and is cognisant of the differing needs and experiences of women and men, youth and marginal groups when accessing and negotiating power, politics, land conflict and dispute resolution mechanisms. Particular emphasis should be made to recognising the impact of differing land dispute resolution or land management on these different sections of society.

The contracted research partner will be expected to work closely with the Somalia Stability Fund Research Manager to develop the research methodology, frame research questions, analyse the Somali context, identify case studies from which to draw upon and perform a joint analysis from which conclusions and recommendations are drawn.

Key Deliverables

The key deliverables will be agreed on a piece-by-piece basis however are likely to include the following:

  1. Literature review – comprehensive report summarising the key literature, debates, analytical lens and data findings on land conflict in Somalia to date.
  2. Research paper that details the manner by which Somali state formation processes, political representation and distribution of power contribute towards land conflict.
  3. Research paper into most effective mechanisms for resolving land conflict in Somali regions and drawn from best practice in other fragile and conflict affected states.
  4. Validation of findings with Somali and international land and conflict experts

Key Personnel

The following personnel and associated skill sets are required. Additional personnel can be proposed (e.g., a Somali advisor or additional field personnel). What is most important is that the team combination adequately covers all necessary knowledge, skills and experience requirements.

I) Land Conflict Research Lead:

  • Higher level academic qualifications (Masters level of equivalent) in the area of political science, peacebuilding and conflict transformation, international development, law or security studies.
  • Ten years post qualification experience in a lead technical role on land conflict in fragile and conflict affected states (FCAS).
  • Knowledge and awareness of different models of land conflict resolution and how these have been applied in other post conflict settings.
  • Demonstrable experience and understanding of gender and social inclusion concerns in post conflict transitional settings and how this relates to land, rights and entitlements.
  • Demonstrable experience leading, managing and undertaking research in FCAS on issues of land conflict. Evidence of sensitive design and use of tools that are appropriate to context.
  • Demonstrable experience of exercising political sensitivity when navigating elites, historical violence and contemporary issues of accountability.

II) Somali Advisor:

  • A preference for higher level qualification (degree or equivalent) in peacebuilding, international development, law, security studies or similar, although equivalent professional experience may be considered.
  • Strong understanding of Somalia’s social, political and conflict history and contemporary social and political context.
  • Detailed knowledge of Somalia’s political history and contemporary state formation processes, detailed knowledge of local conflict dynamics and the importance of land from cultural, social, economic and political vantage points.
  • Demonstrable experience of exercising political sensitivity while performing research in Somalia with elites while ascertaining research data through qualitative research tools.
  • Knowledge and understanding of different land dispute resolution mechanisms in Somali regions outside of Somalia an advantage.
  • A minimum of five years’ experience working on issues of peacebuilding, conflict transformation, political reconciliation, social reconciliation or similar initiatives.
  • Experience conducting research and analysis and using qualitative research approaches.

III) Field researcher:

  • At least three years’ experience of qualitative research on issues of social and political conflict, peacebuilding programming, stabilisation or policing and justice in Somalia.
  • Experience collecting data through a variety of methods inclusive of key informant interviews, focus group discussions and through different contexts, such as community level data collection or multi-stakeholder forums.
  • Experience transcribing data from the field.
  • Experience of, and ability to, conduct research with a wide cross-section of research participants.

IV) Desk based researcher:

  • Higher level academic qualifications (Masters level of equivalent) in the area of political science, peacebuilding and conflict transformation, international development, law or security studies.
  • At least three years’ experience undertaking desk-based research on issues of politics, conflict, resource competition or similar issues focused on fragile and conflict affected states.
  • Demonstrable ability to produce high quality English reports that can summarise and consolidate large quantities of information.
  • Ability to use software tools such as NVivo or similar to support the extraction, consolidation and ordering of complex information is desirable.

Location and Duration of Assignment

The assignment is expected to take approximately 18 weeks, taking into consideration SSF feedback and review timelines. The work should be fully completed no later than the 30th September 2021. It is expected that some pieces of work – notably research pieces 2 and 3 – will need to be delivered concurrently and this should be factored into the design and resourcing of the facility.

As the final research materials will be SSF branded (with full citation/recognition of the authors/research supplier), this timeline should include sufficient time for review, copy-editing, design, typesetting and printing. SSF will reserve the right to request the authors to undertake any necessary revisions.

How to apply

To access the full RFP package, interested Bidders are advised to click on this link: 

For clarification questions, please email us at no later than Wednesday 07 April 2021 at 2330 HRS (EAT).

Responses to clarification questions will be uploaded no later than, Friday 09 April 2021 at 1700 HRS (EAT) and accessed through the same OneDrive link with the RFP Package: 

Interested bidders are invited to attend a bidders’ conference aimed to provide guidance on the submission requirements, that shall be conducted virtually via the link provided below

Bidders will join the meeting by pasting the URL above on a web browser and selecting the Join as a Guest option

The bidder’s conference shall be held on Monday 12 April 2021 between 1000 HRS and 1100 HRS (EAT)

The Technical and Financial proposals will need to be submitted separately in electronic form by Friday 30 April 2021 at 2330 HRS (EAT). The proposals shall be submitted separately to the following addresses:

Technical Proposal:

With the following subject title: TECHNICAL PROPOSAL- Consultant Services for a Multi-Regional Somalia Land Conflict Research Facility (SSFMR-042-C01)

Financial Proposal:

With the following subject title: FINANCIAL PROPOSAL- Consultant Services for a Multi-Regional Somalia Land Conflict Research Facility (SSFMR-042-C01)

No exceptions will be made for late entries.

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