The Effects of War and Peace on Foreign Aid
The Effects of War and Peace on Foreign Aid
Somalia has often been characterized by the recurrent civil conflict which has hindered the progress of the country. Violent power disagreements among the existing political factions followed the breakdown of the government in 1991. Notably, a considerable number of civilians has been displaced over the years, and the warlords diverted aid. Armed forces have clashed even in the capital, Mogadishu, consequently distracting the distribution of food aid while famine continues to rock the country. The election of a new leader seven years ago sparked optimism that peace would be restored. However, Somalia remains a split region consisting of two independent nations, Puntland and Somaliland; one is governed by transitional authorities while the other is masterminded by Islamist groups. It is evident that peace and war have had significant effects on the distribution of foreign aid.
According to Ahmad (2012), through the infusion of large amounts of foreign aid into the informal economy of Somalia, international interventions virtually transform as well as dominate the local economy. As soon as the international organizations set foot in Somalia, the largest source of income for the locals becomes the intervention itself. Considering that war has ravaged various cities in the land, the donations in the form of billions of dollars of project money shocks the local market overnight. Guha-Sapir and Ratnayake (2009) assert that the magnitude of the death rates is high and the severity has remained elevated since 2006 thus affecting foreign aid, particularly health interventions. The high-rates are as a result of a series of events such as the division within the transitional government as well as fierce fighting that has culminated to the exist of major NGOs. It is evident that the populations that are in need of aid in Somali are located around specific regions such as the South. The main determinant of the magnitude of need has been the restrictions on humanitarian access in the region. Despite the fact that aid would be more efficient if it is targeted to toward such populations, safe as well as unhindered humanitarian access has often been a challenge.
The foreign aid that is often sent to Somalia is utilized by the recipient government to pay off a narrow constituency instead of supporting growth polices thus limiting long-term development (Strandow, Findley & Young, 2014). Considering that aid is a big sector of Somalia’s economy, some parts of the country’s economy have been stunted. Notably, the main notion is that the access to natural resources, in the case of Somalia it is foreign aid, increases a state’s revenue which in turn strengthens the local currency. Consequently, the country’s exports become expensive while manufacturing becomes less competitive on the international market, in the long-run the country’s long-term development suffers.
Additionally, sometimes war periods causes foreign aid to be misappropriated through the various steps on the way from the donors to the intended beneficiaries. For the case of Somalia, the security conditions force donors to outsource development projects to international non-governmental organizations which in turn outsource them to other local nongovernmental organizations. It is evident that the process entails the deduction of the original donations and the projects are never attained fully in the long run. Further, foreign aid that is released to the government is always at the risk of being diverted into private hands, therefore, increasing the individual’s value of holding government power (de Ree & Nillesen, 2009). Consequently, the rebels expect to gain significant rents through capturing the center of state power. Notably, some of the other ways in which foreign aid can be diverted include theft, corruption, as well as the disruption of the local economy.
According to Nielsen, Findley, Davis, Candland, and Nielson, (2011) aid can affect the likelihood of violent armed conflict essentially by influencing the state’s ability to credibly commit to an agreement that decreases war at present and into the future. For the recipients of aid, shortfalls in aid make authorities relatively less able to make enough side-payments or military investments to preserve the peaceful status quo in the coming years. In some of the stable regions in Somalia, foreign aid has helped the country to reduce poverty. However, Somalia is still one of the most underdeveloped countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, even though foreign aid has proved to help in the economic growth, it is also evident that it makes less impact on 6the social indicators of life including the mortality rate, literacy levels, and life expectancy.
Conclusively, foreign aid is often affected by peace and war in Somalia, thus leading to unintentional consequences in the conflict zones. Ultimately, Somalia proves to be an excellent case study of how large-scale foreign aid is affected by the informal economy and sometimes leading to the failure of the same state that it intended to help. After the collapse of the country in 1991, periods of chaos and brutal civil war, as well as famine, have attracted international attention while promoting various international interventions. Foreign aid is always well-intentioned, but the different circumstances that exist in the recipient nation usually undermine the actual objectives and aims of the aid.
Ahmad, A. (2012). Agenda for peace or budget for war?. International Journal. Retrieved from http://www.belfercenter.org/sites/default/files/legacy/files/aisha-ahmad-international-journal-spring-2012.pdf
de Ree, J. & Nillesen, E. (2009). Aiding violence or peace? The impact of foreign aid on the risk of civil conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. Journal of Development Economics, 88(2), 301-313. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jdeveco.2008.03.005
Guha-Sapir, D. & Ratnayake, R. (2009). Consequences of Ongoing Civil Conflict in Somalia: Evidence for Public Health Responses. Plos Medicine, 6(8), e1000108. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000108
Nielsen, R., Findley, M., Davis, Z., Candland, T., & Nielson, D. (2011). Foreign Aid Shocks as a Cause of Violent Armed Conflict. American Journal of Political Science, 55(2), 219-232. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5907.2010.00492.x
Strandow, D., Findley, M., & Young, J. (2014). Foreign Aid and the Intensity of Violent Armed Conflict (1st ed.). Retrieved from http://www.michael-findley.com/uploads/2/0/4/5/20455799/foreign_aid_violent_conflict_strandow-findley-young.pdf