Speech by Minister Virolainen at the MIDA FINNSOM 10th Anniversary Seminar

Speech by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen at the MIDA FINNSOM 10th Anniversary Seminar, Helsinki 21 January 2019.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

It is a great pleasure for me to be here today with you on the 10th Anniversary Seminar of the MIDA FINNSOM program. Congratulations to all of you who have participated in the projects and contributed to the development of the program in the course of the years!

The MIDA FINNSOM program has been financed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs since the very beginning of its implementation in 2008. There are many reasons why we can be proud of having worked jointly for its development.

Firstly, as a project that helps professionals of Somali origin to temporarily return to Somalia, the MIDA FINNSOM was the first of its kind. Since 2008, hundreds of experts have worked in Somali institutions to improve the healthcare and education capacities.  

Secondly, we know that MIDA FINNSOM projects have produced tangible results, especially in the health sector. The projects have contributed to human development in a country where needs are great, humanitarian situation is dangerous and working environment is extremely fragil

Thirdly, also other donors and governments regard the MIDA FINNSOM as a useful model. With time, the model has spread to other fields and sectors in Somalia. Today, the model is seen as an applicable tool to support development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The MIDA FINNSOM program shows what a valuable asset the Diaspora can be in rebuilding the country of origin. Diaspora has a significant role to play in influencing change and promoting development.

The Finnish Somali diaspora is a case in point:it is, and has been, a valuable resource for building sustainable healthcare and education capacities in Somalia. Through the program, the Finnish Somali diaspora has demonstrated strong motivation and ability to contribute to the rebuilding of Somalia.

The development of basic services is important for the reconstruction and state building of Somalia. Provision of basic services is a core state function and it is important for increasing stability and mutual confidence. Inclusive systems and equal access to public services are important premises for reconciliation and peace.

Diaspora has been an important bridge between Finland and Somalia. The experts gain valuable experience, which contribute to their professional development and will be beneficial when they return to Finland. The MIDA FINNSOM program has contributed to the strengthened relations between the two countries and peoples.

MIDA FINNSOM focuses on the most vulnerable part of the population, namely health care for women and children. This is in line with the priorities of the Finnish development policy’s crosscutting objectives. As an example, the work conducted at the Hargeisa Group Hospital has led to a significant decrease in maternal and infant mortality rates. In Mogadishu, the proper functioning of the Yardimeli hospital is mainly due to the MIDA FINNSOM project.

One key principle for our development policy is the sustainability of development results. The evaluations state that the project has achieved its objectives, has delivered results and has been successful in strengthening the capacity of local health sector. MIDA FINNSOM is clearly a positive example of a development intervention that centers on sustainability of tangible results.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We need to ask – what is behind the success?

The evaluations underline that the program has succeeded in reflecting the needs of the target regions and institutions. The governments and respective ministries have been serious in identifying their needs.

Clearly, the Finnish Somali diaspora is another key factor behind the success: the commitment, cultural and linguistic knowledge as well as the professionalism of the experts is remarkable. Cultural and linguistic knowledge is central when transferring skills, capacities and sharing views. Common language is crucial to dialogue.

Furthermore, the good collaboration between the beneficiaries, IOM staff and all parties involved have been key to the success. IOM staff, both in Finland and Somalia, has been committed to reaching the common and shared goals of the programme.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The cooperation between the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and IOM has been mutually rewarding and innovative during the past ten years. The mutual work continues. At the end of last year the ministry finalized a decision to fund the MIDA FINNSOM Health and Education project in South Central Somalia with 5.4 million Euros from 2019 to 2021. We are looking forward to the continued good cooperation with the Federal government and respective ministries as well as the IOM personnel. We also look forward to the continued good cooperation with the MIDA FINNSOM project in Somaliland, where the current phase IV focuses on contributing to improved health outcomes, particularly in remote regions.

I would like to congratulate you on the results, jointly achieved, as well as the continued engagement with the development of Somalia.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs wishes the IOM and MIDA FINNSOM continued success in the complex world of migration and development!

Speeches held by Ministers and the top leadership of the Ministry.