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Somalia: Peace and Development
Somalia: Peace and Development
Date distributed (ymd): 990912
Document reposted by APIC
Region: East Africa
Issue Areas: +economy/development+ +security/peace+
This posting contains excerpts from a report from the Som-Can
Institute for Research and Development and Partnership Africa
Canada. The report challenges the international community's de
facto quarantine on Somalia, and calls for greater
international support for opportunities for development,
particularly in Northern Somalia.
The report (31K in length) was originally distributed through
PACNET, an e-mail list service managed by Partnership Africa
Canada (PAC). To subscribe to PACNET, send an e-mail message
to: email@example.com In your message, leave the
"Subject" blank and write in the text: subscribe pacnet-l.
Documnets distributed by PACNET and PACRES (the Frenchlanguage
counterpart) can be found at the Partnership Africa
Canada web site: http://www.web.net/pac/
The full text of the document excerpted below is at:
Peace and Development in Northern Somalia
Opportunities and Challenges
September 8, 1999
It must appear to much of the world that Somalia has ceased to
exist. All diplomatic missions there have been closed and
Somalia's seat at the United Nations lies empty. Although
limited UN aid programmes are operating, bilateral donors have
largely forgotten Somalia. Respected guide books and travel
information web sites dispense dire warnings to potential
travellers and major airlines no longer include Somalia as a
destination. It's not even possible to write to friends and
relatives in Somalia, for postal links have been cut. Somalia,
it would appear, is a country that much of the international
community has placed in quarantine.
The following report, by the Som-Can Institute for Research
and Development and Partnership Africa Canada, two
Canada-based NGOs, challenges the assumptions behind these
policies (particularly as they relate to northern Somalia) and
calls for the quarantine on Somalia to be lifted.
This report is also being published in French and Somali.
These versions and a longer version of this report may be
obtained by contacting:
Som-Can Institute for Research and Development 219 Argyle
Avenue, Suite 216, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2H4, Canada Tel:
1-613-569-3471 Fax: 1-613-232-3660 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or
Partnership Africa Canada 323 Chapel Street, Ottawa, Ontario,
K1N 7Z2, Canada Tel: 1-613-237-6768 Fax: 1-613-237-6530
Some useful links on Somalia:
UN Agencies in Somalia: http://www.undos.org
War-torn Societies Project:
Peace and Development in Northern Somalia
Somalia's Humanitarian Crisis:
Somalia is no longer included in the annual United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report world
ranking. If it were to be included, according to a special
report on Somalia, it would sit firmly at the bottom in 175th
position, below war-afflicted Sierra Leone:
"Average life expectancy is estimated at 41-43 years; the
mortality rate for children under five exceeds 25%; adult
literacy rates range between 14-17%; primary school enrolment
is 13-16%; and GNP/capita is between $176-200 ... In almost
any other country, any one of these indicators would be
considered a national emergency. Yet, Somalia's prolonged
humanitarian crisis has raised the threshold for what is
considered an emergency there - only outright famine
conditions and deadly epidemics generate a humanitarian
response. Nonetheless, the chronically low levels of human
development in Somalia constitute a long-term emergency for
Somali society and, indirectly, for the international
community." (UNDP, Human Development Report - Somalia, 1998)
Peace and Conflict - two faces of Somalia:
Somalia is a country of stark contrast - between the troubled
central and southern regions and the stable and peaceful
north. The conflict that affects parts of Somalia today can be
linked directly to the 1977 Somali invasion of the
Somali-inhabited Ogaden region of Ethiopia. In 1897,
Somali-inhabited territories had been divided up among the
colonial powers - United Kingdom, France and Italy - and
Ethiopia, with a fifth territory becoming part of the future
northern Kenya. At Independence in 1960, the British and
former Italian protectorates united to form the Somali
Republic. In 1974, Somali President Siyad Barre began to build
up one of the largest armies in Africa with Soviet support.
However, defeat in the Ogaden war with Ethiopia (1977-78) led
to the emergence of armed opposition groups in exile and
brutal repression by the army of civilian populations in
Somalia, particularly in north-western Somalia (Somaliland)
and north-eastern Somalia (Puntland). Western aid grew
substantially during the 1980s; paradoxically, this helped
Siyad Barre maintain his large army and intensify military
repression in the northern regions.
The eventual overthrow of the Siyad Barre government in 1991
and the ensuing collapse of the Somali state created
intolerable humanitarian conditions including famine, which
raged in southern Somalia during 1992. The international
relief and security operation that followed brought help to
needy populations, but it failed to bring an end to the
inter-clan militia conflict. The latter has continued
sporadically in parts of the centre and south of Somalia since
the withdrawal of UN forces in 1995.
The fighting of 1991 triggered a massive exodus from Somalia
of trained Somalis and members of the international community.
Government services collapsed and foreign missions and
businesses closed. This heralded the start of Somalia's
diplomatic and economic isolation. Somalia has been without a
central government now for almost a decade, but interestingly
this has led to the creation of decentralized, regional
governments, supported by traditional leaders and civil
society organizations that are helping to rebuild their
country from the ground up.
The two regions of northern Somalia, Somaliland and,
especially, Puntland, were spared most of the conflict that
affected other parts of the country during the 1990s.
Opposition to Siyad Barre developed early in these two regions
and both suffered violent repression in the 1980s, Hargeysa
(capital of Somaliland) being almost destroyed by the Somali
army in 1988. Greater internal social and political coherence
led both regions to establish separate administrations during
the 1990s. In 1991, Somaliland declared its independence,
although it has since failed to gain international
recognition. In 1998, the north-east region of Somalia
proclaimed itself the autonomous State of Puntland, a region
within Somalia. Almost a decade after the collapse of the
centralized Somali state, northern Somalia has become a haven
of peace in a conflict-ridden Horn of Africa. But this reality
has yet to be recognized by the international community,
hindered by an international media that focuses entirely on
the inter-clan militia violence in central and southern areas.
Somaliland and Puntland are peaceful and both regions are
being effectively run by a combination of government and
traditional authorities. A priority for both regional
governments is strengthening the security situation. The
demobilization of ex-combatants continues and an emphasis is
being placed on training and equipping the police forces. The
resources, however, of both governments are small, being
derived mainly from import and export duties. ...
There are generally favourable conditions for development in
Somaliland and Puntand, which would be the envy of many
developing countries. And yet many donor countries are ...
dragging their feet on development assistance, pointing to
obstacles such as the fact that Somalia does not have a
central government, that there are security risks and that
Somaliland has declared its independence. The international
community is failing to see that the future of Somalia is
being created now through the decentralized, regional
administrations. ... The UN has called on donor countries to
come to terms with this reality and help the emerging regional
states develop their administrations and economies. Bilateral
aid levels to northern Somalia, however, remain very low, with
the European Union being the main bilateral donor. ...
A major source of frustration for Somaliland and Puntland is
that aid coordination takes place in Nairobi, not Somalia. ...
Whilst there are clearly security and logistical reasons why
agencies involved in emergency work in central and southern
Somalia prefer to be based in Nairobi, there no longer seems
to be any valid reason for UN, bilateral or larger
international organizations supporting development programmes
in northern Somalia to automatically maintain programme staff
in Nairobi. ...
Development Challenges in Northern Somalia:
... A recent study for the World Health Organization (WHO) of
health infrastructure in Somaliland and Puntland (Dr Khalid
Dik, Assistance to and Physical Rehabilitation of Landmine
Victims in Somalia, May 1999) reports that only one hospital
out of the ten main ones visited functions adequately. ...
The impact of the civil war on the education sector has been
equally dramatic. The education system collapsed totally, the
majority of schools were damaged, educational records and
materials were lost, many teachers left the country. Almost
two generations of Somali children have missed their
schooling. ... A great effort is now being made to revive the
education sector in Somaliland and Puntland. Education is seen
as a priority by people, government and donors alike, but
school enrolment remains low and resources are very limited.
Food security has been a recurrent and increasing challenge in
recent decades. Somalia is prone to occasional crop failures,
particularly in southern regions where drought, floods and
pest infestation are common. In addition, the conflict in
southern regions during the 1990s has severely weakened the
In 1998, Puntland and Somaliland suffered from a prolonged
drought which decimated animal herds, particularly in
Puntland. Continued drought in 1999 in northern and southern
regions of Somalia has contributed to what the FAO is
describing as an extremely grim situation, with 400,000 people
at risk of starvation, particularly in southern regions. ...
Somalia has an estimated 1-2 million landmines and unexploded
ordnance (bombs, shells etc.), much of which is in Somaliland
and, to a lesser extent, Puntland. Surveying and demining has
begun in a few locations with UNDP support, but there seem to
be few donors interested in supporting this work in Somalia.
How is it that Somalia is receiving only a tiny fraction of
the investment in demining that other countries (e.g. Bosnia)
have received? Both Puntland and Somaliland have publicly
endorsed the Landmines Treaty, but as they are not permitted
to sign it their commitment goes unrecognized and, seemingly,
Developmental Opportunities in Northern Somalia:
Following the collapse of economic activity in the early
1990s, Somaliland and Puntland are leading the economic
reconstruction of Somalia. The backbone of the economy in
northern Somalia is the livestock sector and large numbers of
sheep, goats, cattle and camels have traditionally been
exported to the Gulf States. In February 1998, Saudi Arabia
introduced a ban on the import of Somali livestock on grounds
of health, alleging incidences of Rift Valley Fever. The
embargo hit herders and traders throughout Somalia severely.
It has now been officially lifted, although many fear that
competing commercial and political interests in Saudi Arabia
may prevent a return to previous export levels from Somalia.
In the light of these events, it seems clear that Somalia
needs to develop its livestock industry further. ...
Appropriate facilities are required to ensure that animals can
be given a clean bill of health for export. ...
The private sector, although limited, is thriving in the
stable social and political conditions that have been created
in most of Somaliland and Puntland. There seems to be no
shortage of consumer goods throughout the regions. The absence
of a central government, together with much of the
infrastructure taken for granted in other countries (such as
an official banking, telephone and postal systems), has led to
innovation. An example of this is the deregulated
satellite-based telecommunications sector. In Somaliland,
there are now five telecommunications companies operating out
of Hargeysa and this competition has led to the lowest
international telephone charges in Africa -- US80 cents a
minute, some four to five times lower than neighbouring
countries. Internet links are expected to be established
Cheap and reliable international communications have
strengthened the links with the Somali diaspora and greatly
facilitated the crucially important system of remittances from
abroad. Support from family members in the diaspora has played
a key role in helping many urban families cope during the
difficult years of the 1990s. Although remittances tend to be
used for immediate needs, there are indications now that such
resources are increasingly being invested in construction and
The inflow of private funds from the Middle East, Europe and
North America is substantial, although it is impossible to
know the exact amount because of the unofficial nature of the
transactions. Remittances alone far outstrip international
development assistance, which amounts to no more than US$15
million per year at present for northern Somalia. Remittances,
estimated at perhaps $150m per year, have tended not to be
saved and there remains a shortage of investment capital, for
there is no recognized private banking system. ...
With the collapse of the repressive central government and the
emergency of the early 1990s, there was a mushrooming of NGOs
in northern Somalia, with a majority of them being
concentrated in Hargeysa and Bosasso. Their numbers have seen
a natural decline since then, as the majority have had to
struggle hard with mostly volunteer staff to carry out
projects, for which funding has often been scarce. Too many
donors have compounded this situation by concentrating funding
in the hands of expatriate NGOs. In spite of these
constraints, Somalia NGOs continue to develop and mature and
there are now several NGO coalitions. ...
Outstanding in the NGO sector are women's organizations. Many
would argue that women are the pioneers for peace and
development in Somalia. It is therefore essential that Somali
women's NGOs and women politicians and activists be supported
by both the local and international communities. ...
Role of the Somali Diaspora:
A major, but as yet only partially tapped, asset for Somalia
is the Somali diaspora. Large Somali communities are to be
found in the Gulf States, several European countries, the US
and Canada. The importance of remittances from abroad to
bolster Somali family survival cannot be overestimated. These
actions, however, tend to be individual, family-oriented. ...
The recently announced UNDP programme for identifying skilled
Somalis abroad for short missions in Somalia is one initiative
that deserves serious support.
Canada and the US are two countries that have had some
difficulty re-establishing relations with a decentralized
Somalia. However, there are signs now that both countries have
begun to review their policies ... This report urges that this
process be accelerated and that a pro-active and pragmatic
approach be taken. ... In particular, we call upon civil
society organizations to lead the way and establish
partnership linkages. The Somalia quarantine must be lifted
Some steps to take:
... The sustainability of peace and security in the northern
regions of Somalia depends on support for both civil society
organizations and the emerging regional governments, so that
policies are adopted that promote good governance, human
rights and democratic development. ...
The continuing inflow of arms, particularly into southern
regions, is destabilising Somalia further. The UN Security
Council should ensure a more effective implementation of the
embargo on arms to Somalia.
Land mines remain a scourge throughout Somalia. Canada and the
international community should take a lead and recognize the
commitments made by both the Somaliland and Puntland
governments with respect to the Ottawa Convention. Action
should be taken to secure funds for an integrated regional
land mines programme.
Capacity building should be a central objective of all
assistance provided. ... Above all, initiatives should be
developed in northen Somalia and with the region's governments
and Somali organizations. External management of such
programmes should be located in northern Somalia. ...
The renovation of school buildings, teacher training, student
counselling and the provision of books and learning materials
are priorities in the education sector. Institutions of higher
learning should explore linkages with emerging Somali
Linkages in the health sector should be developed with Somali
hospitals. Surgical and orthopaedic doctors could make short
term visits to provide training to Somali medical staff.
Material support is also needed, for there are no regular
The international community should respond quickly and
imaginatively to the appeals for food assistance that have
been made by UN organizations. Southern regions appear to the
most seriously affected. ...
In the livestock sector, a priority is to establish facilities
and programmes to assure adequate animal health. The
development of water resources for dry season needs is
Initiatives should be supported that can help Puntland and
Somaliland protect their environment. Illegal fishing by
foreign boats should be condemned by the UN. ...
Programmes to rehabilitate and modernize public infrastructure
- ports, airports, roads, bridges, power and water supplies -
should be supported.
Idil Salah, Som-Can Institute for Research and Development
Bernard Taylor, Partnership Africa Canada
This report was made possible through support from the
Canadian International Development Agency.
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the
Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary
objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States
around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by
concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant
information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and