Mogadishu, 13 September 2019 — In areas liberated from terrorists and militants, the immediate pressing needs of the local population must be addressed through quick impact projects in order to build public trust and win hearts and minds.

 This was said during the training of Civil-Military Coordination (CIMIC) officers of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali National Army (SNA) recently held in Mogadishu. CIMIC officers directly engage with communities and help to win the hearts and minds of the communities they work with.

 The joint training, supported by the UK Mission Support Team (UKMST) and the European Union (EU), was attended by 20 officers from AMISOM, SNA and the Danab Special Forces Unit who were drilled in civil-military coordination and defector rehabilitation awareness.

 AMISOM and SNA continue to work jointly to stabilise Somalia and implement quick impact projects in areas liberated from Al-Shabaab. Some of the projects undertaken include rehabilitation of roads and schools, construction of boreholes and safe water points, provision of medical supplies and sports facilities. Through the implementation of these projects, AMISOM and SNA are able to address some of the immediate needs of the population and in the process build public trust and confidence.

 AMISOM Deputy Force Commander in charge of Operations and Plans, Maj Gen. Nakibus Lakara, called on the CIMIC officers to work closely with the communities in the liberated areas if they are to develop trust and a good working relationship with the people they protect.

 “You must focus on creating harmony with the local population and observe International Humanitarian Law and respect human rights if you are to win the hearts and minds of the people,” Maj Gen. Lakara told the CIMIC officers.

 AMISOM Chief CIMIC Officer, Col. Francis Kangwanda said, “CIMIC activities help in shaping the operational environment to the mutual benefit of both the military and civilian actors and therefore allows a (military) commander to achieve more.”

 During the same event, 38 AMISOM police and military officers also completed a one-day training in project planning and stakeholder management. While closing the project planning training, Maj. Gen. Lakara told the officers that they had acquired lifelong skills which they could apply even after retiring from military service.

 “That is a tool you can now use to initiate a project, a project starts from identification; but identification that is based on needs,” said Maj. Gen. Lakara.

 The participants said the training had enhanced understanding of their roles as CIMIC officers, the handling of defectors as well as engaging with communities to identify needs.

 Major Justus Cheboi, an AMISOM battalion commander said, “When we return to the sectors or our forward operating bases, we should be able to engage with the local communities, to better understand their needs and how to relate with them.”