In Nairobi, a three-day meeting got underway today to plan the reconstruction and development of Somalia. More than 100 representatives of Somali groups, donors, the World Bank, NGOs and the United Nations are taking part.

The Somali Joint Needs Assessment, or JNA, aims to form a five-year timetable for reconstruction beginning in 2006. Among those attending is Somali Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Abdirizak Osman Hassan. From Nairobi, he told English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua that he has high hopes for this week?s meeting.

?This is a model," he said. "This is something that Africa has never done, simply because Somalia is a unique case. And that uniqueness is offering to us all an opportunity to do something perfect. That is participatory. That is people-driven planning and at the end of that exercise we expect when we have a final document, which contains the needs of reconstruction and development of the country, we will take it to a donor conference which is planned to take place in Rome, Italy, next year, sometime in June or July. And we hope we will succeed to present a convincing document that can be accepted by the donors.?

As for Somalia?s immediate needs, Mr. Hassan said, ?Many, many ? the priorities are many. This country in the last 15 years had total destruction. Social service completely destroyed, infrastructure basically is non-existent. Public institutions do not exist, so we have to start from scratch. Security and law enforcement institutions are not in place?they are priorities.?

Solving these problems will require the cooperation of the various Somali clans, who have been at war on and off for years. Nevertheless, he believes they?ll cooperate. ?100 percent. You know, when we went back to Somalia, when our relocation took place?we found Somali people throughout the country want two things," he said. "One is peace, second is government.?