In developed countries, international assistance plays an important role in peace and conflict. The delivery of humanitarian aid depends heavily on the current political conditions which determine whether or not people in need of assistance can access aid. In Somalia, international assistance disturbances since the Cold War have resulted in a political vacuum that has still haunted people. A secure government means that international assistance can be successfully provided to the intended population. However, in Somalia, the war in most parts of that nation has created a troubling and insecure system where foreign aid in terms of food, capital, firearms, and other basic commodities is prone to attack by belligerent groups.
Effects of Peace and War on the Distribution of Foreign Aid in Somalia
War not only makes it difficult to assess foreign aid but makes it impossible to control some of the war-torn regions that require aid. In the case of Somalia, regions that need foreign aid are mostly under the control of the al-Shabaab militant group. The al-Shabaab makes it difficult to distribute foreign aid, unlike government-controlled areas. According to Grunewald (2012), war has limited humanitarian penetration to war-torn regions in Somalia, making it inaccessible for critical survival aid. On the other hand, peace ensures that distribution of food, military personnel, water and capital to Somalia takes place efficiently. In the regions not controlled by al-Shabaab militia, where peace prevails, people are able to move freely and participate in the allocation of foreign aid without fear of attacks. In such regions, humanitarian aid is able to enhance stable leadership, feed starving people, improve infrastructure and control disease outbreaks.
Actions Taken by Somali Leadership to Relieve the Severe Problems Caused by Warfare
There are several measures taken by Somalia government in collaboration with foreign institutions such EU and AU to relive some of the problems caused by war. Political actors at local levels continue to develop policies and laws aimed at ending relationships with armed non-state actors accused of fuelling the war in Somalia. However, humanitarian players find it challenging to implement the measures based on international canons while taking care of national laws. Unemployed youth are presented with an opportunity to join al-Shabaab and improve their living conditions due to perceived benefits of engaging in the war. Poor economic situations, poverty, lack of education and loss of family members forces Somalia youth to take part in the conflict. To counter the problem, Somalia government has ensured good transport, availability of capital and access to education to people in war-torn areas to discourage them from joining al-Shabaab militia.
Role of Foreign Aid in the war Against Poverty and the Incidence of Warfare in Somalia
Foreign aid has grown to become a vibrant industry controlled by war mongers, criminal business elites, arms dealers, politicians and al-Shabaab militia. Aid is diverted into private channels, given that there is no taxation and it does little to increase local revenue generation. According to Aisha Ahmad (2013), the extension of foreign aid is not a strategic solution to Somali problems. Aid is guaranteed to intensify corruption at all levels of government, raise dependency and weaken the state. Aid in form of food and other basic goods harms the local Somalia economy. For example, relief food, although meant to help people dying of poverty, is always a political determination to support farmers in the donor’s country.
A study carried out by Warsame and Ireri on Somali living in Kenya found that administration of foreign aid is tightly wired to corruption and lack of integrity (2016). The study concluded that foreign aid cannot help reduce poverty and war unless there is virtuous financial system, enhanced transparency of Somali government officials and strong learning institutions. Strandow, Findley, and Young (2014) argue that foreign aid is a type of rent prone to misuse by leaders. Revenue collected by Somalia government as tax has a way of ensuring leaders remain accountable and transparent. However, income in the form of rent is not accumulated through taxation and overcomes the relation between the government and citizens. In support of this statement, Sollenberg (2012) adds that aid increases the risk of war as it is distributed through the government and maximizes the value of government’s power.
Somalia is one of the highest recipients of foreign aid in the horn of Africa. Aid worth millions of dollars is injected in the country every year, yet no significant progress has been achieved on matters of economic development and peace. Conflicting parties create war that hinder deliver of aid. In regions were peace prevails, it become easy to distribute relief food, capital and firearms. However, foreign aid has failed to bring political stability and development in Somalia as it attracts corruption and lack of integrity. While humanitarian aid has partly played a good role in addressing the issue of war and poverty, it is one of the key reasons that conflict in the African nation has endured for so long.
Aisha Ahmad (2013). Global Insider: Somalia’s ‘New Deal’ Must Aim to Reduce Foreign Aid Dependence. World Politics Review. Retrieved from http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/trend-lines/13297/global-insider-somalia-s-new-deal-must-aim-to-reduce-foreign-aid-dependence.
Grunewald, F. (2012). Aid in a city at war: the case of Mogadishu, Somalia. Disasters, 36(1), 105-125. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7717.2012.01287.x.
Sollenberg, M. (2012). A scramble for rents: Foreign aid and armed conflict. Retrieved from https://uu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:512184/FULLTEXT01.pdf
Strandow, D., Findley, M. G., & Young, J. M. (2014). Foreign aid and the intensity of the violent armed conflict. Retrieved from http://www.michael-findley.com/uploads/2/0/4/5/20455799/foreign_aid_violent_conflict_strandow-findley-young.pdf
Warsame, M. H., & Ireri, E. M. (2016). Does international monetary aid help or hinder Somalia’s social economic revival? Journal of Public Affairs, 16(4):350-358.