Centralized Somalia aid fuels conflict


By Mohamed Ahmed Ali

Aid resources and its distribution are critical issues in Somalia which can complicity exacerbate conflict if not handled well. Anyone with basic knowledge about the history and dynamics of Somali conflict knows well that violence has often been fueled by   grievances over inequalities of resources distribution mainly due to abuses in powers concentrated in the hands of corrupt authoritarian regimes and other actors in the post conflict.

I trust that international partners are acting in good faith. However, I am inclined to believe that operating with humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence as well as context specific strategy is the best instruments for aid resources management ensuring best results for beneficiaries. Therefore, I would like to call the attention of the international partners on the importance of fair resource distribution in Somalia. In reference to this issue, there is serious concern over how aid resources have been allocated and distributed in Somalia over the last few years.

First, donations from the non-traditional donors (Middle East countries and Turkey) have been disproportionately concentrated in and around the Capital city (Mogadishu) creating imbalance and marginalization of the peripheral regions including Puntland state of Somalia. Furthermore, these donations are usually channeled through the Federal government which either lacks the capacity or the political will to fairly distribute donations received in the name of Somalia.

Secondly, inequalities in aid resources distribution have severely worsened in the last few years due to the New Deal Architecture emphasizing centralized aid management system.  In risk voyage from the humanitarian principles the New Deal placed aid resources management under the incompetent and corrupted leadership of the Federal government with the intent to contribute state and peace building goals.

However, it seems too good to believe that fair resource distribution can be achieved through centralized aid management in the context of Somalia characterized with highly corrupted leadership and politically fragmented environment. For instance, in Puntland both aid volume and impact continues to decline under the new Deal framework led by the Federal government, teams from the various institutions shared with me their  disappointments and how challenging it is  for them to  get fair  share  from the centralized   aid resources   citing issues ranging from political unwillingness of FGS politicians,  lack of  institutional capacity to  manage  aid  and  issues of transparency. 

Another major challenge that Puntland faces also relates with the FGS tendency to adopt one general plan model for all the country or one size fits all strategy, without consideration of  Puntland advanced development stage in terms of institutional capacity and socio-economic improvements compared to the emerging states and the Federal government  which are now recovering from crisis.  

On positive note, we have seen examples of successful stories in certain programs implemented by some organizations adapting different approaches in Somalia. For instance, the World Bank through negotiation with all stakeholders allocated funds for each Zone in Somalia, by maintaining balance in working with the federal government and member states.  This balanced decentralization and harmonization model of the World Bank has been producing   fair resources distribution and smooth implementation of projects with tangible results.

These experiences underscore the need to revise current aid management approaches in Somalia. Thus, I want to stress the importance for Puntland and Somali leaders as well as international partners to devise new approaches for aid management that ensures allocation of fair share of resources in a manner consistent with the humanitarian principles and relevant to the development stages and priorities of each zone in Somalia.

About the Author: Ali has Master’s degree in Humanitarian Action from University of Geneva in Switzerland, and he is currently Independent consultant on humanitarian and development programs in Somalia with office in Puntland capital of Garowe. He can be reached at geel114@otmail. com

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