Aid could be doing more harm than
South African Sunday Independent, 2 November 2003, of editorial
contrast between chaotic Somalia and the stable Somaliland, suggests
to Greg Mills that donor countries frequently help sustain conflict
and political strife by providing assistance.
The spluttering Somalia peace process and the corresponding success
of the political transition in the autonomous region of Somali-land
in the north provide a useful comparison to illustrate the benefits
and pitfalls of external intervention in tough conflicts.
Since the collapse of Somali leader
Siad Barre's government in 1991 and the withdrawal of UN troops from
Mogadishu involved in Operation Restore Hope in 1993, there have
been 14 peace conferences involving various Somali factions.
The number of warlord factions has
increased from three in 1993 to about 50 a decade later. Based at a
communications training facility outside Nairobi, the latest peace
conference at Mbaghati had, by the end of 2003, drifted on for more
than a year, at an estimated cost of $8 million (about R56 million),
funded principally by the European Union.
Clan leaders were comfortably
ensconced in luxurious residences while facilitators puzzled over
how to advance. Progress at Mbaghati has also been hindered by
personal ambitions, notably between the man in the ascendancy,
Abdulayhi Yusuf, president of the Puntland territory within Somalia,
and Abdilqasim Salad Hassan. The outgoing president of the
transitional national government in Mogadishu.
As Raqiah Omar, an analyst for Africa
Rights, based in Somaliland, observed: "Nairobi is a waste of
time, reinforcing and giving legitimacy to the warlords by giving
them a platform and visibility, and allowing them to manipulate the
Somaliland, by comparison, was left
to its own devices and yet has successfully managed to emerge from
decades of devastation on its own.
The country is today an Islamic
democracy in which traditionalist clan elements coexist with
democrats through the clan, elder-dominated upper house and the more
democratic 82-member lower house. This hybrid, homegrown political
system was the product of several years of hard bargaining between
the clans before peace was established throughout the territory in
the mid-1990s. A 2001 referendum on a new constitution and local
elections in December 2002 were followed by the staging of
presidential elections on April 14, won by Dahir Rayale Kahin, the
incumbent, with a majority of just 80 votes of the 500 000 cast.
Legislative elections are scheduled for 2005.
This is tremendous progress by any
developing country's measure; the more so when compared to the
failure of Somalia to the south.
Lacking international recognition,
Somaliland has been left to its own devices in negotiating a
political solution and in finding its development feet. This has
been immensely difficult for a country where tremendous economic
Foreign aid from international
organisations and donors is constrained by Somaliland's lack of
international recognition, and totals about $40 million a year, half
of this from the UN. This offers little succour for a government
that faces a myriad demands for health, education, water and other
infrastructure needs. Nearly half of the budget is consumed by
salaries for the 15 000-strong police and military force. But this
force is necessarily oversized to maintain peace by keeping
potential militiamen "inside the tent", as it were - in
sharp contrast to Somalia, where they remain "outside the
tent", running amok. The biggest source of income is
remittances from Somalilanders living abroad, about $300 million