Pontus Marine

Monday, August 31, 2015

Does aid have a place in Somaliland?

This caption was written by By Anna Patricia Valerio and is part of  a conflict in context article titled: How Somaliland transitioned to stability sans direct aid, recognition.

(Devex)- By Anna Patricia Valerio - The path toward Somaliland’s political settlement may be impressive, but institutions, as in many post-conflict contexts, are significantly hampered by weak capacities.
A vibrant private sector, local communities and development partners provide most of the health and education services in Somaliland. Contrary to some accounts of Somaliland in the period after its transition, foreign aid reaches the territory, but is delivered through project assistance and administered by local and international nongovernmental organizations. But the private sector is still the dominant player: Businesses run some of the most indispensable services, such as water, energy and road infrastructure.
Still, Somaliland has substantial poverty. While it was assessed to be on track toward achieving Millennium Development Goals on eliminating extreme poverty and hunger as well as reducing infant mortality, high levels of newborn, under-5 and maternal deaths persist. The droughts of 2011 and 2012 also reversed a long-term decline in the proportion of malnourished children under 5. Meanwhile, net enrollment and gender parity in schools in Somaliland remain low.
While the Somaliland government budget has increased annually, its existing sources of revenue remain limited and unable to sufficiently meet the needs outlined in Somaliland’s 2012-16 National Development Plan. According to Phillips, Somaliland’s mechanisms don’t have the teeth to require financial disclosure from companies operating within its borders and collect taxes after the point of entry. These deficiencies force Somaliland to rely on businesses’ honest declaration of profits and resign itself to the reality that service companies, which don’t have products to declare upon entering Somaliland, will be practically exempt from taxes.
In 2013, the $60.5 million Somaliland Development Fund was launched to address these gaps. A pooled fund initially financed by the U.K. Department for International Development and theDanish International Development Agency, the SDF now also has funding from Norway and the Netherlands. At the time of the fund’s launch, the amount was said to have made up 4.2 percent of the nearly $1.29 billion needed for the NDP. The SDF model, however, is still different from standard ODA, Phillips said.
According to Kaplan, an ideal intervention would involve a “modest amount with modest ambitions.” An arbitrary infusion of aid to Somaliland, after all, could overwhelm the ownership that enabled Somaliland to function relatively well after its independence in the first place.
“If they work with the grain of the Somaliland society, I think some extra money and technical advice could be very helpful because the country doesn’t have a lot of money [and] the government isn’t so strong,” Kaplan said.
The SDF secretariat didn’t comment in time for publication, but an overview of the SDF’s statedobjectives and project lineup seems to show that it’s on the right track. The SDF agrees with Somaliland’s recognition that development aid is often “donor-driven, bureaucratic, poorly coordinated and unpredictable” and aims to prevent poor aid coordination by not earmarking funds for specific sectors and letting the Somaliland government jointly decide on the distribution of resources.
Still, the SDF doesn’t include secondary education, which has an overlooked but nevertheless relevant impact on development in Somaliland, among its priorities — an unsurprising omission, according to Phillips.
A less analyzed aspect in the Somaliland case that Phillips explored in her research is the role of secondary schools, particularly the Sheekh School, in honing the skills of potential leaders and, consequently, in forging the future of Somaliland. A privately funded, highly selective boarding school that allowed top Somaliland students from all clans to study for free, the Sheekh School produced three of Somaliland’s four presidents, three of its four vice presidents and many leading activists and technocrats.
Lamenting donors’ tendency to prioritize primary education, a Sheekh School graduate told Phillips, “We used to say to the international community [that] all we need is three Sheekh Schools.”
This sentiment, of course, is a drastic departure from the prominence of primary education during the era of the MDGs. Whether the inclusion of quality secondary education in the finalized sustainable development goals, which will be adopted in late September, could boost secondary education’s place among development partners’ priorities is not yet clear.