Sunday March 19, 2017
By Afyare Abdi Elmi
As Somalia faces yet another famine, donors should learn from the successful aid model Turkey employed in the country.The
model the Turkish government employed in 2011 and 2012 offers an
innovative perspective. Therefore, donor countries must consider
adopting it for Somalia.
Somali people carry Turkish and Somali flags as they gather in support of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his government in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, July 16, 2016 [Feisal Omar/Reuters]
Jarre's viral hashtag, #TurkishAirlinesHelpSomalia, was yet another
attempt to draw worldwide attention to the famine in the Somali
peninsula, but the Somali people are in need of both an organised,
short-term as well as a long-term response to ensure that this crisis is
contained, and does not happen in the future.
In Somalia, the
cycle of long droughts followed by famines has been going on for many
decades. Now, more than five million Somalis need immediate assistance
in order to prevent another famine. "This drought has created the
biggest displacement of people in the country," said Adan Adar, the
country director of the American Refugee Committee.
all over the world, as well as a large number of local and international
NGOs, have been collecting and sending in donations.
In order to
save as many people as possible, an immediate and large-scale
humanitarian campaign effort followed by a sustainable development
strategy that can help build resilient state institutions to control the
negative effects of future drought occurrences are necessary.
agencies and international organisations have started rescue efforts by
raising the awareness of the world community.
In early March,
the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, paid an
unannounced yet timely visit to Somalia in order to mobilise the
international community to help rescue the people who were affected by
In fact, in the past, Guterres has been a consistent
supporter of Somali people. For instance, when he was the commissioner
for the UNHCR, he pressured both Kenyan and Somali governments to
respect the human rights of the refugees.
As recently as 2011,
Somali people have experienced one of the worst famines in the Horn of
Africa region, which killed more than 250,000 people and displaced at
least one million.
In their book Famine in Somalia, Daniel
Maxwell and Nisar Majid rightly characterised the responses to this
famine as "collective failures".
In 2011, Recep Tayyip Erdogan,
the current president of Turkey, was the first high-profile figure who
visited Somalia, with the intention of raising the awareness of the
At the present time, even though
millions of Somalis are on the brink of starvation, there has been a
lack of attention and support from the world community.
the next few weeks are crucial for controlling the damage of the
drought. Perhaps, the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi
Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain) are well
positioned to lead the short-term humanitarian efforts in Somalia
because of their strong economies, geographic proximity, and cultural
and historical relations with the Somali people.
The Turkish model
Somalia, because of the lack of a functioning state, there are few
mechanisms to control droughts from becoming famines. In order to
reverse this and establish functioning state institutions, I believe, we
can learn several lessons from the model that Turkey employed in 2011.
the Turkish model combined aid and development. For instance, in
2012-2014, the Turkish Red Crescent managed the Rajo camp for the 29,000
internally displaced people in Mogadishu (PDF).
At the same
time, only a few kilometres from the camp, the Turkish Development
Agency and a private corporation brought large construction equipment
that built major roads in Mogadishu.
Second, Turkey provided
direct and often unconditional assistance to the Somali government.
Unlike the Western donors, Ankara gave direct budgetary assistance to
the previous administration in Mogadishu. Hopefully, it will do the same
for the new government.
Third, the Turkish model focused on
high-impact infrastructure development projects. For example, these
included hospitals, an airport and major roads.
Fourth, since the
capacity of the Somali institutions are low, Ankara has used
public-private partnerships to deliver most of the capital projects.
companies managed the Mogadishu airport and port, and delivered the
construction of the tarmac roads. The Turkish Airways regularly flies to
Mogadishu. With a new terminal in the airport, hopefully, more airlines
will fly into the country.
Even though some of these companies
were interested in making profits from their entrepreneurial adventures,
Somalis still benefitted from their presence.
forced Somali businesses to compete. The more companies that arrive in
Somalia, the more people that will get jobs and choices. Prices will
fall and the quality of service will improve.
Finally, being on
the ground was perhaps the most important factor that has helped Turkey
to receive widespread support from the Somalis.
and aid workers stayed in the country, which helped them understand the
Somali people and their needs better. For them, there was no need for
mapping studies. Staying on the ground has significantly reduced the
administrative cost as well.
A sustainable strategy
countries have provided billions of dollars of assistance to the needy
Somalis for the last couple of decades - which Somalis appreciate.
the world community helped rescue millions of Somalis from famine in
1991 and 2011. It is a fact that the European Union, the United States
and other donors have supported the Somali people in many ways.
besides contributing to the recovery and the development of the
country, the Somali diaspora in the Western and Gulf countries are now
on the frontlines of the rescue efforts in Somalia.
That said, to
maximise the impact of the billions of dollars of aid that the West,
Gulf countries and others provide to Somalia, the current aid paradigm
must be revisited.
To date, few donors invested in the
infrastructure and long-term impact projects. As important as relief and
capacity building projects are, it is more useful to invest in major,
capital projects such as a tarmac roads, ports and hospitals.
Turkish aid model opened new doors for the Somali people. Western and
Gulf donors should follow suit and invest in the long-term projects that
can help empower the state institutions, prevent another humanitarian
catastrophe and contribute to the economic growth of the country.
short, hundreds of thousands of Somalis are now on the verge of
starvation. We must do all we can to rescue as many people as possible
through large-scale humanitarian efforts.
Hopefully, the GCC
countries will lead this campaign. In doing so, we must learn from the
2011 experience and the model that Turkey employed. Simultaneous relief
and development efforts are necessary.
Afyare A Elmi is an
associate professor at Qatar University's Gulf Studies Program. He is
the author of the Understanding the Somalia Conflagration: Identity,
Political Islam and Peacebuilding.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.