Lower Shabelle is a crucible for the many trends that have perpetuated state failure and violence in Somalia. Many of the most vulnerable and marginalized communities live in the lush and fertile farmlands along the Shabelle river and towards the Indian Ocean coast, prevented from reaping the benefits of these considerable resources by decades of fighting, domination by armed and powerful groups and international engagement that has been drawn into a political economy that renders insecurity, poverty and displacement profitable for some, disastrous for others.
Al Shabaab continues to exercise de facto control over much of Lower Shabelle. Areas under government control rest on fragile ceasefires, underneath which much mistrust towards armed forces and international actors remains. Efforts to enhance access to justice must contend with long-standing grievances and often have only rudimentary local arrangements to build on.
The Expanding Access to Justice (EAJ) Programme in Somalia has undertaken this in-depth contextual analysis of the Lower Shabelle region to inform its activities and create a solid understanding on how to foster access to justice in an area that is dominated by fragility.