By Jama Ahmed Jama
55 years ago, our grandfathers took a journey that shaped our destiny. Ousting colonial power and relinquishing independence in search of a greater good was not an easy decision. On 26th June 1960, Somalilanders celebrated for long awaited independence. Poet Timacadde famously depicted in poem the joy of the people of Somaliland at the night British flag was replaced by Somaliland’s flag.
Immediately after the festival, Somaliland united with Somalia to form Somali Republic. Somaliland people were subjected injustice under the new state that came into existence from the sacrifice of the Somalilanders who abandoned their sovereignty. All senior government officials including the president, the prime minster, and speaker of parliament, military and police commanders and majority of cabinet members were taken by Somalia. Resources were not shared equally, but Somalia took the lion’s share.
The historian narrate the bitter days of the union that ended in 1991 when Somaliland people established their own country, a country based on justice, democracy and rule of law. It is these three principles Somali Republic failed to respect, leading to its death.
Somaliland is not founded on euphoria. It is not a state grounded on anger. It is a state of principles. The reason Somaliland left the union was not hatred towards Somalia or love of separate flag. It was the creation of a state in which all regions are equally treated.
25 years after restoration of independence, Somaliland is committing the same injustice. The purpose of this commentary is to turn attention how unjustly Somaliland Development Fund (SDF) is managed. SDF is the first donor support development project which Somaliland government is taking a leading role without NGO intermediary. Recently, Somaliland government published the method it earmarked SDF projects to the regions.
According to the government data, regions are benefiting from the SDF as following: Hargeisa 46%, Gabiley 9% (one of the districts of Hargeisa), Saahil 14%, Togdheer 16%, Sanaag 5%, Sool 5%, Awdal 5%. Gabiley is part of Hargeisa region while Saahil was part of Hargeisa region at the time Somaliland declared its independence.
This allotment reinforces already expanding disparity. The resources are invested in very few regions. Now, SDF has taken the same route by giving almost all of its projects to only two regions. Hargeisa (including Gabiley district) and Saahil together enjoy 69 percent. Sanaag, Sool and Awdal collectively receive 15%.
Why? Are Hargeisa and Saahil having more population than Sanaag, Sool and Awdal? The answer is no. According to latest UNFPA population estimate, Hargeisa and Saahil have a population of 1, 242, 003. The population of Sool, Sanaag and Awdal are 1, 544, 814. Therefore, in population wise, the later regions have more population. Is it because of assessed need? The response is no. It is a matter of irrefutable fact that east regions have received the least support in last two decades. In territory wise, Sanaag alone is 38% of Somaliland’s territory. Let alone adding Awdal and Sool.
How the most populous and largest regions of the country are getting 15% share? What is the logic behind SDF distribution of resources? It is up to the management of SDF to explain. However, I would like to emphasise that current arrangement of SDF projects are danger to Somaliland’s cohesion, peace and coexistence. Somalilanders cannot watch all resources to be taken by two regions and the rest to watch in despair.
The objective of SDF was to support Somaliland, not to marginalize parts of Somaliland. The purpose was not to boost certain regions, but to provide equal opportunities. The aim was not to develop tiny portion of the country. I hope the money collected from hard working citizens of European countries who want to help is not utilized in a manner that creates internal division, hatred and instability. As a concerned citizen who loves Somaliland and envisions transparency and accountability, I urge SDF steering committee to reassess its projects and avoid contributing instability and widening inequality.
The author, Jama Ahmed Jama, is a senior student of economics at University of Hargeisa. He can be reached at email@example.com.