Foreign aid

Foreign aid is any type of support sent to developing nations to aid in or promote their social, political, and economic advancements. This includes financial, humanitarian, military, and technological aid. Developed nations like the United States, the United Kingdom, and China among others frequently give aid abroad. Foreign help has both beneficial and bad effects, particularly on industrialized nations. Furthermore, leaders' perspectives on how to distribute help are also taken into consideration. This article examined the effect of war and peace on the distribution of foreign aid, specified actions which are undertaken by a regime's administrators to alleviate constraints arising from warfare, and finally, the role played by foreign aid in reducing warfare and poverty in Somalia.

Effects of Peace and War on the Distribution of Foreign Aid in Somalia

The warfare and political instability in Somalia has restricted access to humanitarian aid by the citizens who are in need of critical and basic aid including livelihoods, security, water, healthcare, and food. The warfare in Somalia has significantly reduced the regions which can be accessed by charitable organizations. Grunewald in his 2012 study found out that the Somali citizens, especially those residing in the country’s capital of Mogadishu were terrified and preferred staying indoors, thus compromising their ability to survive. Lack of mobility also makes it difficult for humanitarian organizations to distribute resources including wood, food, clothing, and water (Grunewald, 2012).

Also, the phase and nature of war in Somalia have also influenced the provision of foreign aid. The 1990s war in Mogadishu resulted in regional divisions within the city which made it very difficult for charitable organizations to maneuver and assist the suffering Somalia citizen. However, following the 2007-2011 intervention by the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Ethiopian troops, the frontlines were cleared therefore making it easier for foreign aid to reach more people(Collier &Hoeffler, 2004).

Actions Taken By Leaders to Alleviate the Impacts of Warfare

Unfortunately, government officials in Somalia have not made any significant attempt at ensuring that poverty is reduced regardless of the huge portions of humanitarian aid that the country receives. Instead, the Somalia government officials have used this humanitarian aid to enrich themselves and improve their personal economic development. For example, within the 1970s, the Somalia government took advantage of the humanitarian aid they received from developed countries, under the governance of Siad Barre, and subjected the country to severe food shortage. Also, during the Ogaden War, government officials acted as intermediaries who managed the distribution of humanitarian aid to refugees and other suffering citizens, their leadership led to a massive deviation of humanitarian materials and relief food (Hamon& Vaughan-Lee, 2012).

Effects of Foreign Aid on Warfare and Poverty

The Somali citizens cannot boast of poverty and warfare reduction regardless of the huge amounts of foreign aid that the country receives. Inadequate community education and targeting have influenced the situation. Also, there has been biases in selecting community representatives to represent the needy populations which are in need of the foreign aid. Community elders and self-proclaimed leaders are some of the most popular people who are involved in decision-making processes. Therefore, those who benefit from the humanitarian aid are mostly powerful government officials as opposed to those who need the assistance. Access to basic humanitarian resources is also restricted to people who control particular regions such as displacement camps, and those with access to information systems. The government officials make crucial decisions regarding who is qualified to receive foreign aid. In most instances, government officials, senior clan elders, business persons, tycoons, and political actors among other influential individuals and groups are also involved in aid distribution, therefore making the humanitarian aid distribution impartial (Hammon & Vaughan-Lee, 2012).

The provision of foreign aid in Somalia has also led to animosity between different groups of people and communities within the country, instead of promoting stability and peace. Foreign aid has been proven to initiate and promote conflicts within a region which benefit from the same. Foreign aid can worsen the instability faced by a nation by establishing a parallel economy which speeds up the degree with which a state collapses. As a result of better financial support offered by the United Nations to Mogadishu, there emerged an increased conflict between local militias. More violence also emerged due to an increasing demand for security of foreign officials who managed the aid and also increased instances where the aid was diverted. In addition, many government leaders heading various factions utilized humanitarian aid to cling to power and garner support, and also improve their status as warlords (Perrin, 1998). Thus, to operate within Somalia, foreign agencies have been forced to put in, even more, finances to ensure their protection, by employing security guards and authorities. These additional financial needs put in to ensure security stood at 100,000 dollars per week in the country’s capital, to 28,000 dollars a week in other less dangerous areas such as Baidoa. The payment forms were both acceptable and common since many organizations needed to gain some degree of access to those populations in dire need of foreign aid. As a result, the number of humanitarian agencies operating within Somalia skyrocketed within the war period and the salaries paid to security personnel, and program officials increased rapidly.

The humanitarian aid to Somalia has been met with much criticism especially due to its failure to ensure stability, peace, and an improved standard of living. Regardless of increased rates of humanitarian aid offered to the country, the rate of poverty has continued to increase. The foreign aid has instead promoted dependency, poverty, market distortion, and corruption. The humanitarian aid has been confirmed to be benefiting the corrupt regimes within Somalia and the ruling elites, as most of it doesn’t reach the deserving people (Warsame, 2012).

According to a 1998 study conducted by the World Bank, it was confirmed that foreign aid negatively influenced local prices of goods, increased dependency, and reduced the peoples' motivation to produce local food. Other humanitarian agencies including CARE and Save the Children have been criticized as supporting their desires (Maren, 2002).


For development, stability, and peace to reign in Somali, it is important for foreign countries to prevent the ruling elites and corrupt regimes from taking control of the humanitarian aid. Moreover, unless the Somali government decides to take control of the foreign aid the country receives, and ensure it reaches the intended populations, the country will continue to be dominated by poverty, inhumane living standards, and corruption. Foreign donors should also revise the policies governing the distribution of humanitarian aid within Somali to ensure that deserving populations get access to foreign aid.


Collier, P., & Hoeffler, A. (2004). Aid, policy, and growth in post-conflict societies.European economic review,48(5), 1125-1145.

Grunewald, F. (2012). Aid in a City at War: the Case of Mogadishu, Somalia. Disasters, 36(1), 105-125.

Hammon, L., and Vaughan-Lee, H. (2012).Humanitarian Space in Somalia: a Scarce Commodity. Humanitarian Policy Group Working Paper.

Maren, M. (2002). The Road to Hell. Free Press.

Perrin, P. (1998). The Impact of Humanitarian Aid on Conflict Development. International Review of the Red Cross. Retrieved from

Warsame, H. A. (2012). Role of International Aid and Open Trade Policies in Rebuilding the Somali State. Bildhaan,11, 51-72.

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