2 May 2022


Effects of War and Peace in Somalia on Foreign Aid Distribution

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Foreign aid plays a vital role in sustaining economic and social activities of developing countries. It may come in the form of humanitarian or development aid. Either way, it plays a vital role in ensuring better living conditions and economic development of the country. However, warfare in some developing countries affects their progress despite the foreign aids. War has a great impact on the distribution of foreign aid in the developing countries. It acts as an impediment thus hindering efficient movement of the resources to the target population. A good example of such a country is Somalia. The country has been under civil war for a long time due to lack of a stable government. 

Adverse effects of war on foreign aid distribution

The war in Somalia has affected humanitarian access by people in need of security and other essential aids for survival like water, food, and livelihoods. The warfare has also reduced areas that the humanitarian organizations can serve. It means that victims in some parts of Somalia are unable to access this aid. An interview survey done in Mogadishu revealed that residents were terrified to move around. It makes survival difficult during military operations Grunewald (2012). Without mobility, these people can’t access essential resources like food and water and medication. The majority, therefore, starves to death or dies from untreated illnesses. 

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The provision of humanitarian assistance in this country has been changing with time depending on the war phases. For instance, the war in Mogadishu during the 1990s was mostly between different factions. Therefore, the city got divided into enclaves. In this case, for you to survive you had only two options. You either hide or move. However, things changed between 2007 and 2011. It was after intervention by the AMISOM (Africa Union Mission in Somalia) and the Ethiopian troops. After the interventions, the front lines became apparent. It enabled aid organizations to easily maneuver access and deliveries since confrontations were only limited to a few areas. War has led to the destruction of basic infrastructure like roads in the country. Setting up of new infrastructure isn’t possible too. Therefore, accessing most of the country is almost impossible. 

Positive effects of peace on foreign aid distribution

Peace is an essential factor when it comes to efficient sharing of foreign aid. Developing nations that have been enjoying peace have been able to make significant development steps from the external support that they get. The order allows such countries to properly plan and distribute the foreign aid depending on the needs of different regions. Such distributions may occur regarding development projects e.g. building of dams, roads, housing, etc. it hasn’t been the case for countries like Somalia. Most of their foreign aids get used in countering the negative impact of war instead of setting up new infrastructure and systems that help drive the economy. 

How the government of Somalia uses foreign aid.

Due to political instability and war, the foreign aid that Somalia gets has not solved the problems that the country is facing. Instead, the leaders in Somalia have been taking advantage of this funding. The resources from foreign nations and donors have been instead used to further the leaders’ personal and selfish goals. For instance, in the 1970s, the leadership of Siad Barre took advantage of the foreign aid the country received due to food shortage between 1973 and 1974. The same scenario happened during the Ogaden War pitting Somalia and Ethiopia. Instead of delivering relieve food and resources to the poor refugees, the leaders diverted funds (Hammon & Vaughan-Lee, 2012). According to a report by former Somali government official, in 2012 the government used only $1 million in the provision of social services while tens of thousands of its citizens were dying from famine. That year the government had a total of $58 million, and it couldn’t explain how it used it.

What is the impact of foreign aid on poverty and war?

The foreign aid has not helped in reducing war and poverty in Somalia. Community participation in the use of external support has been one of the biggest challenges. There has been an imbalance in the distribution of these resources to the needy. The community and self-appointed leaders in Somalia make decisions on how these resources get distributed. The aid has thus benefited people with relative power rather than ones with critical need. These leaders make decisions on who should get the help and who should not. The resources thus end up in the hands of businesspersons, politicians, clan members, and other influential individuals. Aid in Somalia is therefore not as per the needs of the community (Hammon & Vaughan-Lee, 2012).

This foreign assistance has also fueled animosity between different factions in Somalia. Instead of bringing peace and stability, it has been the reason to fight each other. Increased financial injections by the UN to Mogadishu has increased conflict between sub-clan militias. Cases of aid diversion have escalated war too. For a humanitarian agency to operate in Somalia, it has to pay an enormous amount of money to different guards and authority for protection. These fees go to the tune of $100,000 per week at Mogadishu and $28,000 per month in Baidoa (Hammon & Vaughan-Lee, 2012). Foreign aid in Somalia has been receiving similar crisis as the rest of Africa. Such critic result from lack of improvement in living standards. The levels of poverty continue increasing despite donations from foreign nations and organizations. Corruption is very dominant in countries such as Somalia. The largest portion of the foreign aid doesn’t thus reach the intended population. 


Robinson, C. (2016). " Revisiting the rise and fall of the Somali Armed Forces. Defense & Security Analysis.

Grunewald, F. (2012). Aid in a City at War: the Case of Mogadishu, Somalia. Disasters , 36(1), 105-125 .

Warsame, A. (2012). Role of International Aid and Open Trade Policies in Rebuilding the Somali State. Bildhaan , 11, 51-72.

Hammon, L., and Vaughan-Lee, H. (2012). Humanitarian Space in Somalia: a Scarce Commodity. Humanitarian Policy Group Working Paper .

Christine, M. (2014): 3000 Years of Civilization Brought to Life, Raincoast Books, p. 297, ISBN 1-55192-879-5.

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