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U.S. foreign assistance to Somalia: phoenix from the ashes?

Few topics inspire more cynicism among seasoned observers of international politics than foreign assistance to Somalia By some reckonings, no other country save Israel has received such high levels of military and economic aid per capita; certainly no country has less to show for it Even before its collapse into protracted civil war and anarchy in 1990, Somalia had earned a reputation as a graveyard of foreign aid, a land where aid projects were notoriously unsuccessful, and where high levels of foreign assistance helped to create an entirely unsustainable, corrupt and repressive state. The heavily armed violence of Somalia's civil war, moreover, exposed the destructiveness of years of Cold-War-inspired military aid into the Horn of Africa. Finally, the massive armed humanitarian intervention into and out of Somalia in 1992-95 dramatically exposed the shortcomings of the entire industry of foreign aid--from the bilateral donors, whose strategic and political interests have rarely intersected with the needs of the Somali people; to UN agencies, whose inflexible bureaucratic procedures failed to respond to the Somali famine; to the non-governmental organizations, whose programs succumbed to extortion from Somali militias and sometimes inadvertently fueled local conflicts; to corrupt local leaders, who systematically diverted foreign aid to their own coffers at the expense of their own populations. In short, Somalia's history of foreign aid yields an almost exclusively negative set of lessons learned.

Yet the very depth of these failures both in Somalia and other crisis-ridden countries in the Greater Horn of Africa(1) may now be providing fertile ground for innovative reforms in the philosophy and delivery of foreign aid. Among those donors at the forefront of new thinking on foreign aid to Somalia is the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which is attempting to operationalize these new approaches through its Greater Horn of Africa Initiative (GHAI). Though still in planning stages, the GHAI is conceptually superior to past approaches to development aid. It emphasizes conflict prevention as a means of addressing roots causes of the region's endemic humanitarian crises; African "ownership" of development prioritization; regional approaches to problems transcending borders, as the GHAI's name suggests; capacity-building rather than project-driven aid; the strengthening of civil society; and effective mechanisms to support transition from relief to development aid. Though none of these ideas about aid is new, attempts to systematically build them into foreign-aid programs in USAID are. Moreover, coming at a time of significant shrinkage in the foreign-aid budget) the GHAI's prioritization of local capacity-building and African-led initiatives, rather than costly conventional development projects, provides it with fiscal as well as conceptual appeal.(2) The GHAI "is about doing business differently" in the region, observes one USAID official. "This is not about more money, it's about programming resources more efficiently."(3)

The GHAI is already considered a potential model for U.S. foreign aid in other regions of the world and thus merits close scrutiny as it is moved from the chalkboard into operation. It is of additional interest in that the principles on which it is founded reflect one of the pillars of the Clinton administration's emerging post-Cold War foreign policy. This pillar is the conviction that among the chief threats to American interests and global stability are state collapse, civil war and protracted humanitarian crises in zones like the Greater Horn of Africa, and that American interests are best promoted through long-term, comprehensive assistance aimed at preventing these complex emergencies.(4)

In the case of Somalia, of course, calls for crisis prevention come too late. Worse, Somalia's current state of affairs poses a fundamental challenge to some basic premises of foreign aid. One of these premises is the existence of state authority. In Somalia, USAID and other donors confront the dilemma of channeling development aid where there is no sovereign state, forcing them to consider the problems and prospects of identifying and working through alternative sources of social and political authority.

Foreign Aid and the Nature of the Somali State

Past research on the impact of foreign aid on least-developed countries suggests that large-scale assistance generally has a distorting effect on both the economic and political functioning of the recipient country. Economically, high levels of aid can strain the "absorptive capacity" of weak economies, misdirect development priorities towards expensive and inappropriate large-scale projects, and foster dependence on external sources of funding to meet both development and recurring administrative costs in the state's budget. Politically, high levels of foreign aid in very poor states have been associated with the rise of endemic political corruption, the strengthening of repressive arms of the state and the bloating of the civil service, since external assistance enables rulers to utilize expanded employment in the state and the military as a critical form of patronage politics.

In Somalia, however, aid has not so much distorted politics as it has transformed it. The Somali state itself is a historically artificial and unsustainable structure. First superimposed on a stateless, predominantly pastoral society by Italian and British colonialism, the state in Somalia was subsequently sustained and dramatically enlarged by generous levels of foreign aid. Its growth into the primary source of employment in Somalia in the 1970s and 1980s, boasting not only a bloated bureaucracy but also one of sub-Saharan Africa's largest armies coincided with extremely high levels of foreign assistance from a wide variety of donors during the Cold War. Conversely, in 1989-90, when reduced Cold War tensions enabled western donors to freeze foreign assistance to Somalia amidst charges of gross violations of human-rights by the Barre regime an ethical luxury that the logic of the Cold War had prevented in the past--the Somali state quickly collapsed and has yet to reappear. Even the prolonged efforts at nation-building by the UN. Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) from 1993 to March 1995 were unable to resuscitate a Somali state beset by powerful centrifugal political forces and a weak domestic economy that cannot generate tax revenues for a minimalist central-state structure.(5)

It may be an exaggeration to claim that the Somali state is a creation of external assistance, but it is indisputable that the state has never been remotely sustainable by domestic sources of revenue. As far back as the 1950s' observers worried that an independent Somali state would not be economically viable.(6) The Cold War temporarily obscured this fundamental problem. Attracted by Somalia's perceived strategic importance in the Horn of Africa--a geopolitical advantage that Somali leaders were keen to exploit a diverse range of donors provided economic assistance that may have exceeded $5 billion from 1960 to 1988 and military aid estimated at $2.4 billion.(7) In addition, Somalia's endemic food shortages, and its long-term refugee crisis resulting from the drought of 1974 and the Ogaden War of 1977-78, added enormous flows of food relief and refugee assistance into the foreign-aid lifeline. By the mid-1980s, 100 percent of Somalia's development budget was externally financed, and a disturbing 50 percent of its recurrent budget dependent on international loans and grants as well.8 At the height of Somalia's foreign-aid dependence in 1987, one analyst calculated that total development assistance constituted a stunning 57 percent of Somalia's GNP.(9) Somalia had become "a ward of the international aid community."(10)

This level of aid dependence transformed the institution of the state. Whole ministries were heavily or even totally reliant on a foreign donor--the Ministry of Agriculture on the Gemlans, the Ministry of National Planning on the Swedes, Somali National University on the Italians, the military on a constellation of Western donors. Throughout much of the 1980s, Saudi Arabia supplied most of Somalia's energy needs for free as part of the "weaning away" of Somalia from its 1970s alliance with the Soviet Union.(11) Somali civil servants devoted most of their energies to "project hopping"-linking up to foreign-aid projects that would pay viable salaries--rather than performing their duties within their ministries, where they went virtually unpaid.(12)

High levels of foreign assistance to Somalia have had a profound effect on Somali urban political culture as well. Since 1960, one of the most important roles of the Somali state has been as a catchment point through which foreign aid is funneled into the country. This unintentionally reinforced a "Mogadishu bias" in modern Somali political culture, a centralization of political life and competition in the capital, the point at which foreign aid entered the country and was allocated. And foreign aid continues to foster a "cargo cult" among Somali political figures, an illusion that the reestablishment of a Somali state will again be greeted with Cold War levels of international largess, to be enjoyed by whoever is clever and ruthless enough to convince the international community he presides over a structure that can pass for a state. This illusion has exacerbated the protracted impasse over national reconciliation in Somalia today and has fueled the ongoing civil war, which has largely been fought over control of points of entrance of international emergency relief into the country. Were there no potential foreign-aid bonanza linked to the capturing of the central state, it is quite likely that factional conflict in Somalia would be far more muted.

It would be an error to project this portrait of dependence on foreign aid to the entire economy of Somalia. Most of the rural sector--the pastoral economy of livestock herding and the smallholder agricultural production in southern, inter-riverine Somalia--has remained relatively self-reliant, despite the fact that this sector has been a major target of development aid since the 1960s. It is the urban, civil-servant class that has developed an entire economy and lifestyle around the accessibility of foreign aid and the bloated Somali state it has sustained. That segment of the economy remains the most dysfunctional and vulnerable in the aftermath of the collapse of the state.

U.S. Aid during the Cold War

Within the narrow geopolitical logic of the Cold War, independent Somalia found itself occupying strategically valuable real estate in the Horn of Africa, the "soft underbelly" of the Arabian Peninsula Like its neighbors in northeast Africa--Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia--Somalia was able to parley this strategic significance into high levels of foreign aid. Yet throughout the Cold War Somalia was always a consolation prize for superpowers vying for influence in the much more important country of Ethiopia Since Somalia's emnity with Ethiopia--a function of Somali irredentist claims on Ethiopia's Somali--inhabited Ogaden region--precluded an alliance with both countries, the first choice of both the East Bloc and the West in the Hom of Africa was Ethiopia, which possessed a much larger population and land mass, Africa's largest army, and far greater political prestige and leadership than Somalia.(13)

Much of the international assistance which flowed into the Horn of Africa was military, helping to transform the region into one of the most militarized zones in the Third World. A heavy share of the responsibility for this weapons flow rests with the former Soviet Union, which from 1967 to 1987 provided an estimated $4.2 billion in arms deliveries to its clients in Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan.(14) The U.S. transferred about $1 billion in military equipment and support into the Horn over the course of the Cold War.(15)

Somalia's legacy of international assistance since independence in 1960 can be broken down into three distinct periods, corresponding roughly to each decade. Through most of the 1970s, Somalia embraced a close alliance with the Soviet Union; as a consequence, the United States provided virtually no aid from 1970-78. By contrast, in the 1960s and 1980s, the United States played a relatively significant role as a foreign donor, but always as part of a much wider, multinational program of assistance. In neither the 1960s nor the 1980s did U.S. bilateral economic and military assistance rank as the top source of aid for Somalia. Still, U.S. bilateral economic aid to Somalia from 1954 to 1987 totaled $677 million (one of the top recipient of U.S. aid in sub-Saharan Africa)(16) and U.S. military aid to Somalia in that period reached $380 million.(17) Moreover, in as much as U.S. assistance was closely coordinated with other major donors like Italy and Saudi Arabia, and its policy preferences influential in multilateral lenders like The World Bank and International Monetary Fund, The United States had a powerful voice in shaping the philosophy and goals linked to international aid to Somalia. Throughout the Cold War, American foreign aid to Somalia was defined and driven by strategic rationales, often at the expense of developmental concerns.

U.S. Aid in the 1960s. The United States played a relatively subdued role in foreign assistance to Somalia in the 1960s. U.S. military aid to Somalia for the entire decade totaled only $1 million, in contrast to $47 million provided from 1963 to 1969 by the Soviet Union.(18) Part of this low-key approach was a function of the close ties between the United States and Ethiopia in that era, an alliance which would have been jeopardized had the United States provided Somalia with significant military aid.

The United States was, however, able to match the Soviet Union in development financing, contributing 17 percent of the funding of Somalia's total development budget from 1963 to 1969. American assistance focused on infrastructural projects like port construction, highways and urban water supplies, as well as range management and rain-fed agricultural development in the interriverine region.(19) As part of its effort to help develop Somali agriculture, which was predominantly small-holder, subsistence farming, American aid officials pressed the Somali government to adopt modern land-tenure laws. They were believed to be a precondition for farmers to invest in their land, but they created at least as many problems as they were to solve.(20) This was clear at the outset, when in 1961 the failure by American development consultants to understand Somali pastoral land tenure undermined a range-management project in the southern town of Afmadow. The project sparked intra-clan hostilities and had to be aborted due to what an embassy report described as an imposition of "American style" range management, which was "completely contrary to local style."(21)

U.S. assistance also contributed to a multilateral, Western aid program aimed at training and support for the Somali national police force. Not surprisingly, the combination of Western aid to the Somali police and Soviet aid to the Somali military set up an internal security rivalry which was resolved by the 1969 military coup.

In keeping with the predominant aid philosophy of the times, other donors focused resources on large-scale infrastructural projects as well, including mads, agro industrial projects, and telecommunications, as well as social projects such as technical schools, stadiums and theaters. The shortcomings of this type of assistance were predictable. First donors tended to tie assistance to high-prestige projects that did not always coincide with development priorities in Somalia. Second, as time passed it quickly became apparent that many of the infrastructural projects were unsustainable; Somalia was unable to finance the maintenance of roads, airports and agro industries, which slowly fell into disrepair. Third, foreign assistance in the 1960s, including U.S. aid, tended to be concentrated in the south of the country, leading to a politically sensitive regional imbalance in development. Finally, as most of the assistance offered to Somalia was in the form of concessionary loans, poorly conceived development projects saddled Somalia with foreign debt which it could not service. As early as 1968, the Somali government proposed rescheduling and renegotiation of its debt, a harbinger of things to come.(22)

U.S. Aid to Somalia 1978-1988. In the aftermath of the 1969 military coup that brought Mohamed Siyad Barre to power, the Somali government forged intensive ties with the Soviet Union, embracing "scientific socialism" in the process. In reality, Barre understood Marxist-Leninism poorly, but appreciated the ideological justification it provided for his consolidation of power within a single vanguard party and the suppression of dissent within the Somali polity. Somalia's ideological conversion was an attempt to maximize Soviet military support, which Somalia intended to devote to its irredentist claims on the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. Under Soviet patronage, the Somali military more than doubled in size from 1971 to 1977. But in 1977, when Ethiopia was weakened by revolution, internal political strife and multiple civil wars, providing Somalia with its opportunity to capture the Ogaden, Somalia found that its erstwhile superpower patron abandoned it in favor of a new alliance with the revolutionary Ethiopian regime. This left Somalia badly beaten by Soviet and Cuban-backed Ethiopian forces in the 1977-78 Ogaden War.

In response, the Barre regime was quick to abandon its revolutionary socialist slogans and embrace anti-Soviet "containment" rhetoric in an effort to garner American military aid against the Soviet-backed Ethiopians. What ensued was a pivotal debate in the Carter administration between "regionalists," who were inclined to view Somalia as a diplomatic pariah state for its irredentist war for the Ogaden, and "globalists," for whom Soviet military adventurism in the Hom of Africa boded ill for detente and had to be countered by the United States. Despite the Carter administration's preference for a regionalist approach, events beyond the Horn--the fall of the shah of Iran, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan--enhanced Somalia's strategic importance as a potential component of an evolving American Rapid Deployment Force for the Persian Gulf.(23) In the end, Somalia was somewhat reluctantly taken on by an internally divided Carter administration as a client, a relationship that brought a tremendous wealth of foreign aid to Somalia but failed to deliver the levels of military aid the Barre regime desired.

U.S. military and economic aid to Somalia from 1978to 1989 formed part of a semi-coordinated, multilateral effort between the U.S. and its Western and Arab allies, particularly Saudi Arabia. Militarily, the United States could not afford the diplomatic fallout of providing an irredentist state with offensive weaponry. So beginning in 1980, the United States provided Somalia with a package of military aid that was defined as defensive in nature. This aid, which began at $45 million for the period of 1980-81, came to total over $500 million up to 1989, the largest U.S. security-assistance program ever provided to a sub-Saharan African state.(24) But the "defensive" U.S. military aid constituted only a small portion of total arms transfers to Somalia in the 1980s. Generous financial assistance from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere enabled the Barre regime to purchase $580 million in arms between 1979 and 1983; most of the weaponry was imported from Italy.(25) No defensive restrictions were placed on these purchases, allowing Somalia to continue to build up its offensive capacity while shielding the United States from criticism that it was aiding that process.

But the real problem in fashioning military aid to Somalia was not insuring that it would be limited to "legitimate defensive needs." By the 1980s, the only security threat of consequence to the Barre regime emanated from within an increasingly rebellious Somali society, so that the main preoccupation of the Somali military was repressive internal security operations. This posed a very different type of dilemma for military aid donors, but one which was downplayed until 1988, when a full-scale civil war broke out between the Somali government and a northern liberation front, the Somali National Movement. The Barre regime's brutal treatment of the Isaaq clan in the north of the country was carried out with weaponry supplied by the United States and its allies, and by military leaders trained in the U.S. IMET program. Many observers subsequently faulted the West for having been oblivious to the costs of arming a military whose sole enemies were its own citizens.

In retrospect, justifications for U.S. military aid to Somalia as a quid pro quo for U.S. access to the strategic airfield at Berbera in northwest Somalia appear unwarranted. Charged with planning a Rapid Deployment Force capable of enforcing the Carter Doctrine in the Persian Gulf, U.S. officials sought access to naval and air bases throughout the Middle East and the Indian Ocean, including Egypt, Kenya, Ornan and Diego Garcia. Somalia's airfield at Berbera' the longest runway in Africa, was viewed as an attractive additional facility. But even within Washington circles, questions were raised about the redundancy of the Somali facility, especially when the United States was initially presented with extremely high "rent" requests by the Barre regime.(26) The marginal importance of the Berbera facility was demonstrated during the Gulf War, when the deployment of over 250,000 U.S. troops to the Persian Gulf was accomplished without use of the Somalia runway.

American military assistance to Somalia was always part of a broader package, one which David Rawson has termed the "security/development mix."(27) U.S. economic aid, which totaled $639 million over the course of the decade, included roughly equal ratios of development assistance (earmarked through USAID's Development Fund for Africa budget), Economic Support Funds (development assistance designed to support strategic interests) and commodity imports, which were channeled through the PL 480 Food For Peace program and the Commodity Import Program.(28) Collectively, these American aid programs formed an important part of an enormous international aid presence in Somalia in the 1980s, a period in which Somalia received $1.1 billion from OPEC states and $3.8 billion in Western bilateral aid, as well as an estimated $2 billion through UN. agencies, the World Bank and the IMF.(29)

U.S. bilateral aid was delivered in two distinct packages. One track centered on provision of technical assistance to multidonor projects, while the other focused on economic support for policy reform. Project-related assistance included several agri-cultural extension and training programs; a three-year feasibility study for a proposed $600 million, World Bank-financed hydro electric dam on the Jubba River, rangeland-management and livestock-marketing projects; groundwater and irrigation projects; rural health-care programs; and refugee-related projects. But for a handful of exceptions, nearly all of the project-related packages were deemed outright failures. One unusually candid USAID internal assessment confirmed, "USAID projects accomplished close to nothing if measured against their original design."(30) And the USAID mission in Mogadishu was not alone on this score. Nearly all other external donors, many of them partners with USAID in multi-donor projects, experienced similar setbacks.

Some specific examples help to underscore the depth of these foreign-aid frustrations. In the case of rural development, USAID and fellow donors recognized the central importance of a revitalized agricultural and pastoral sector in the Somali economy, and correctly perceived that the underdeveloped rural sector possessed considerable potential. As a consequence, USAID provided assistance to nearly every multi-donor agricultural and range-management project in the 1980s. Yet follow-up evaluations found that virtually none of the agricultural and pastoral projects succeeded. These evaluations tended to focus on technical and operational problems of timing and implementation, faulting in particular the cumbersome nature of multidonor project coordination.(31) But there was a far more fundamental flaw in these rural development projects, rooted in the predatory nature of the Somali state. In the absence of an effective and legitimate land-tenure system, projects which increased the value of rangeland or farmland often inadvertently triggered struggles for control over that resource.(32) Land-grabbing by politically empowered clans and civil servants was rife in zones demarcated for internationally funded irrigation projects, resulting in the expropriation of tens of thousands of hectares of riverine land from minority farming communities. Even the activities of the AID funded feasibilility study for the proposed Bardhere Dam triggered speculative land-grabbing.(33) Rangeland improvements also exacerbated pastoral conflicts over wells and pasture, as politically empowered clans (such as Barre's Marehan clan) encroached on land traditionally controlled by other clans. By the late 1980s, donor priorities and projects in the rural sector had unintentionally helped to accelerate a historically unprecedented wave of land expropriation in southern Somalia, a process which left many riverine agricultural communities destitute.

Training programs, intended to build Somali expertise and strengthen public-sector capacity, fared no belter. One internal AID report concluded that fewer than a third of the Somalis sent to study in the United States returned to Somalia, leading the author to wonder "whether, after spending over $21 million, . . . the country is better off. The statistics show that AID is spending money to produce what may be a net brain drain rather than a brain gain to the county."(34) A 1989 World Bank report reached a similar conclusion: after tens of millions of dollars were spent putting thousands of Somalis through training programs, the quality of public-sector management had actually deteriorated in the mid to late 1980s.(35)

Another project-centered preoccupation of donors, including USAID, was assistance to Somalia's large refugee population, victims of drought and warfare in the 1970s. Since the refugees were ethnic Somalis (though most of Ethiopian origin) and since there appeared to be no near-term resolution to the Ethiopian-Somali conflict, donor strategy focused on a goal of refugee self-reliance. This led to the funding of a number of refugee resettlement projects. Though the government of Somalia proposed these schemes, it was ambivalent about actually closing down refugee camps, which generated considerable levels of ongoing intemational assistance. Since government and military officials were diverting much of the refugee aid, the regime had a strong interest in overestimating the refugee population and threatened aid officials who challenged their numbers.(36) The camps, moreover, became important sources of recruitment for the Somali military in its battle against northern Somali insurgency movements. This transformed refugee assistance into logistical support for an army accused of atrocities against its own people, and placed donors in a politically untenable position. Disturbingly, a combination of U.S. strategic needs and UNHCR institutional imperatives--and a fear of criticism for "abandoning" refugees--allowed refugee aid to continue to flow until 1990.

The most important development goals set by the donor community in Somalia, however, were policy reforms, not projects. Throughout the 1980s, Western donors, led by USAID, the IMF and the World Bank, sought to link assistance to economic and fiscal policy reform: liberalization, privatization and financial stabilization.

Superficially, this conditional assistance appeared to enjoy some successes in the 1980s. Under pressure from the World Bank and the United States, the Barre regime agreed in 1981 to liberalize agricultural policies by lifting price controls on staple crops. Donors hoped that this and other free market reforms in the rural sector would provide farmers greater incentives to expand crop production and reduce Somalia's chronic food deficits. Likewise, the IMF was able to press the Somali government to accept stabilization schemes and "structural adjustment" reforms, which included moving the value of the Somali shilling closer to real market value, privatizing some state-controlled industries and reducing government spending. But these proved to be ephemeral victories, leading to far less substantive and enduring policy reform and outcomes than donors desired.

In the case of agricultural liberalization, policies changed but outcomes did not Deceptively, free market reforms pushed by Western donors did appear to trigger impressive growth rates in Somali agricultural output as early as 1982. By 1987, the Somali Ministry of Agriculture reported that total grain production had more than doubled between 1980 and 1986, after a decade of stagnation,(37) and the World Bank's World Development Report 1988 listed Somalia first in Africa in increased grain production between 1980 and 86, with an average annual increase of 7.9 percent. Not surprisingly, donors celebrated this "dramatic" improvement in production as clear evidence of the success of conditionality and free market reforms, and of the failure of price controls, which, they contended, had so depressed incentives that many farmers in the 1970s had "reduced their efforts and work volume to a level which simply guaranteed subsistence."(38) One consultant's report produced for USAID went so far as to claim that agricultural reform had enabled Somalia to become more than self-sufficient in maize and sorghum, had driven agricultural wages above the salaries of government civil servants, and had triggered a reverse rural exodus of city-dwellers resuming to the farms, though none of these contentions was remotely close to the truth.(39) The causal link between price liberalization and increased agricultural output in Somalia, so intuitively obvious to the donor community, quickly became conventional wisdom.

In reality, however, agricultural output did not increase in the 1980s nearly as dramatically as donors and analysts believed. The statistics, it turned out, were flawed but went challenged because they appeared to confirm donors' belief systems about policy reform and liberalization. Donors and outside consultants had mistakenly assumed that the socialist Somali state of the 1070s possessed the capacity to capture surplus grain production and enforce price controls, when in fact the Somali state provide quite "soft" and relatively easy for farmers, merchants and even the state's own civil servants to evade. As a result, price control in the 1970s, instead of suppressing production, had merely fueled a vibrant parallel grain market. The result was that the state marketing board's statistical data on grain production in the 1970s was artificially low, while the dramatic "increase" in grain production in the early 1980s actually represented the statistical reappearance of grain sales formerly hidden from official view rather than a significant upsurge in domestic grain production.(40)

Ultimately, the inaccuracy of grain production figures in the 1980s, and of contentions that Somalia was approaching self-sufficiency in maize and sorghum due to price liberalization, were exposed by dramatic increases in Somalia food imports and food aid from the 1970s to late 1980s. According to the World Bank's own study, food imports in the period 1970-79 constituted less than 33 percent of Somalia's total food consumption, but rose to an alarming 84 percent during 1980-84.(41) Likewise, World Food Programme (WFP) records indicate that total food aid deliveries to Somalia increased nearly twofold from 1982 to 1986-87.(42) Somalia's food crisis continued to worsen through the 1980s despite Western policy reforms.

The donors' collective misreading of the impact of price liberalization is both instructive and puzzling. On one level, it highlights the obvious: accurate assessments of the impact of reform must be rooted in astute political as well as economic analysis. In the case of Somalia, the donor community's misreading stemmed not from an economic error but from political misjudgment. The mistake was not in assuming that price liberalization serves as an incentives for producers, but rather in assuming that price controls had been enforced by a sufficiently authoritative state so as to affect productivity.

What is less clear is whether the donors' political misreading were born of ignorance or cognitive blinders. On the one hand, many donors and their consultants were alarming far-removed from day-to-day economic and social life in Somalia. Studies and reports were produced from air-conditioned offices in Mogadishu, drawing on market surveys and official data collected by Somalia "counterparts." Anyone possessing a passing familiarity with daily life in Somalis knew of the vibrant black markets within which many or most economic transactions took place and would have known to factor that into assessments of the impact of government price controls.(43) But that level of familiarity with Somalia could not be assumed within the insular world of international aid donors in the capital.(44)

On the other hand, ample evidence exists suggesting that donors were well-aware of the "softness" of the Somali state and its vibrant parallel economy. In the 1980s, for instance, USAID and the World Bank were so concerned over the Somali government's inability to tax its citizens (and hence increase state revenues) that they provided technical assistance designed to enhance the revenue collection system (to no avail).(45) Donor reports periodically noted the existence of the parallel market in Somalia, but rarely connected it to their macro analysis of the economy.(46) And it was the major donors that monitored rapidly rising food imports and food aid into Somalia in the 1980s.

Western donors' efforts to promote fiscal reform and stabilization faced quite a different problem, namely, that policy reforms themselves were short-lived, casualties of what Rawson calls "the studied ambivalence of Siyad [Barre]'s zigzag tactics."[47] Faced with donor insistence on stabilization and austerity measures that threatened to undermine the entire patronage system on which the Somali state was based, the Barre regime resorted to delaying, agreeing, reneging and renegotiating, a strategy designed to give donors hope that the regime was approaching stabilization schemes in good faith, but never enough to actually see the reforms through. Four times over the course of the 1980s the Somali government entered into stand-by programs with the IMF; each time, the government failed to meet reform targets. Twice over the course of the 1980s the Somali government signed onto broad structural-adjustment programs with the World Bank. In each case, it reneged on those accords as well.(48)

Why, then, did donors continue to return to the negotiating table in the hope that, this time, the Somali government would carry through on its promises? One view, voiced by David Rawson, attributes this to a combination of factors: the cunning tactics of"bait and switch" on the part of the Barre regime; the "baseless optimism" of the donor community, which, he contends, never fully understood that the Barre regime's agenda was divergent from their own; bureaucratic inertia within aid agencies, where careers were staked on large-scale development projects that officials were understandably loath to suspend; and a "groupthink" dynamic within the donor community.(49) Another view focuses more exclusively on strategic imperatives that drove the delivery of aid to Somalia. Pailthorp concludes that "despite blatant corruption, human-rights abuses and inconsistent cooperation in policy reform, donors continued to support a government financed almost exclusively by external sources in order to uphold foreign-policy agendas."(50) In other words, success or failure measured in developmental terms was ultimately irrelevant, since the primary purpose of Cold War economic assistance was strategic.

The End of the Cold War and the Freezing of Foreign Aid, 1987-90

After decades of shrewdly playing Cold War competitors off one another to maximize its access to foreign aid, it is ironic that Somalia became one of the first targets of post-Cold War "political conditionality" of aid--the linkage of U.S. assistance to improvements in human-rights and political liberalization. Somalia was a relatively easy test case. Once Somalia's perceived strategic value was deflated by the waning of the Cold War, the Barre regime was deprived of its sole trump card. There was relatively little at stake for donors in post-Cold War Somalia, a fact which gave them far greater leverage to link aid to human-rights.

Human-rights violations and political repression had been a hallmark of Somali politics since the 1969 coup that brought strongman Siyad Barre into power. In the 1970s, East Bloc patrons of Somalia assisted in the development of fearsome internal security forces that lived on throughout the 1980s. Western donors in the 1980s deplored the political repression and notorious human-rights abuses but, for strategic reasons, kept largely silent. But in May 1988, a full-scale civil war erupted in northern Somalia, pitting government forces, which were increasingly manned through forced conscription, against the Somali National Movement, representing a liberation front of the northern Isaaq clan. The Barre regime's response to the SNM's attacks was brutal, including the leveling of the city of Hargeisa and the strafing of civilian refugees fleeing for safety over the Ethiopian border. Casualties were so high, and unarmed civilians targeted so systematically as part of the regime's tactic of reprisal and terror, that some international observers termed the war a campaign of genocide against the Isaaq.(51)

The war in northern Somalia, documented by a highly critical General Accounting Office (GAO) investigation mandated by Congress, energized congressional calls to freeze aid to Somalia until human-rights improved.(52) Congress, which had never exhibited great enthusiasm for the strategic rationales behind U.S. foreign aid to Somalia, had already suspended ESP funding to Somalia in 1987. Key figures like Rep. Howard Wolpe (D Ml) led a chorus of criticism of U.S. policy in Somalia, blaming the United States for propping up "the incredibly repressive, corrupt regime of Siad Barre."(53) By the summer of 1988, the United States had already frozen shipments of lethal weapons to Somalia on the advice of the U.S. ambassador, over the objections of the Pentagon.(54) Still, the Bush administration hoped to unfreeze the ESF funds to Somalia, arguing for a policy of constructive engagement to assist in a peaceful transfer of power. But additional massacres and worsening civil war in Somalia in 1989 insured that Congress would not appropriate funds to a regime with such a proven track record of repression. By 1989, USAID and other donors began to wind down or suspend projects. Amid worsening violence, the U.S. embassy in Mogadishu, a newly completed, $50 million complex replete with three swimming pools, a golf course, and a staff of 430 (the largest in sub-Saharan Africa), reduced staff to fewer then 100. Diplomats continued to emphasize the need for national reconciliation and respect for human-rights, but by 1989 nearly all international donors had suspended foreign aid to the country. Without international support and funding, the Barre regime quickly collapsed in the face of multiple liberation fronts and a popular uprising in Mogadishu.

The Famine and U.S. Emergency Aid, 1991-92

Somalia's fall into heavily armed anarchy in 1991 and 1992 quickly provoked famine conditions in the southern half of the country, where a large urban population was trapped in a war over Mogadishu, rural farming communities were subjected to endemic banditry and assaults by roving militias, and the entire economy collapsed amidst such extensive looting that even copper telephone lines and sewage pipes were stripped and sold for scrap metal. By late 1991, relief agencies warned of an impending famine of massive proportions. But the complete breakdown of governmental authority and social structures, combined with overwhelming refugee flows, warlordism and extortionate banditry--a constellation of crises that came to be known as a "complex emergency"--presented aid donors with unprecedented dilemmas. There is near universal consensus that international humanitarian organizations failed to meet the challenges the Somali crisis posed in 1991-92. This "failure of the collective response" proved very costly.(55)

One problem was that key players in the aid community were virtually absent from Somalia from January 1991 (when the last set of international diplomats and aid workers were evacuated) until mid-1992, when intensive media coverage of the famine triggered a tidal wave of new relief agencies, food airlifts and UN. activity. Throughout all of 1991 and half of 1992, only the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and a small corps of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operated in the country, providing emergency food relief and medical care. The United Nations and its agencies were generally inert, citing security concerns, mandates (most U.N. agencies do not work in active war zones) and political/legal complications (UN. agencies work through a host government, which was absent in Somalia).(56)

U.N. diplomatic inaction was in no small measure due to the indifference of the Security Council, which, preoccupied by more important crises in Iraq and Bosnia, was reluctant to address the Somali crisis. It was, moreover, the U.S. delegation that blocked attempts to place Somalia on the Security Council's agenda and watered down a January 1992 Security Council resolution in order to keep U.N. diplomatic involvement in Somalia minimal.(57) Top advisers in the Bush administration, including Secretary of State James Baker and Undersecretary of State for International Organization John Bolton, opposed any resolutions which might potentially expand U.N. peacekeeping obligations at a time when its budget was in arrears.(58) It was only in the summer of 1992 that a combination of political pressures, including sudden and intensive media coverage of the worsening famine, stinging public criticism by UN. Secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali (who called attention to the "naked double standard" between Western largess in the Bosnia crisis and inaction in Somalia) and growing, bipartisan congressional demands for action in Somalia(59) all coming in the midst of a presidential election campaign which mobilized the Bush administration to become much more engaged in Somalia.(60)

Until that time, however, U.S. government monitoring of Somalia was limited to a single State Department political officer, and a single officer of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), both stationed in Nairobi, Kenya. Like other governments, the United States concluded that Somalia was too dangerous to reopen its embassy and was reluctant to give the OFDA officer security clearance to travel even for brief periods in the country. Still, OFDA was able to channel over $21 million in emergency assistance in 1991 through the ICRC, CARE and other NGOs working in Somalia.(61) Monitoring the effective delivery of that aid to starving populations, however, was next to impossible, an increasingly worrisome problem as reports grew that much or even most food aid was being diverted by militias.

Within the U.S. government, agencies were split over the Somali famine. Those closest to the crisis, like the OFDA, the State Department's East Africa office and the Human-rights Bureau, rang the alarm, fought to maximize emergency assistance to Somalia, and pressed UN. agencies to take more active roles in Somalia. The director of OFDA, Andrew Natsios, testified to the House Select Committee on Hunger in January 1992 that the Somali famine was "the greatest humanitarian emergency in the world"(62) and publicly criticized UN. inaction, unaware that the U.S. delegation to the United Nations was trying to keep U.N. involvement in Somali limited Later, an OFDA official admitted that "we were going off in one direction and didn't realize that the political folks were going in another."(63) But even among the "political folks" in the States Department there were divisions. The Bureau of African Affairs was stymied when it tried to make Somalia a top priority of Secretary of State Baker, and Assistant Secretary of State Herman Cohen's efforts to make OFDA fully operational inside Somalia were blocked by Bolton and National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft who opposed allocating resources to an area deemed marginal to U.S. interests.(64)

Media, congressional, and public pressure to "do something" finally jolted the Bush administration into action in August 1992, producing the high-visibility emergency airlift of food, "Operation Provide Relief." The military airlift was intended to be a strictly temporary measure to cope with immediate famine conditions until a planned UN. security force of 3,500 peacekeepers could take control of the airport and seaport. Politically, it was attractive as an option that promised to deliver media images of U.S. military planes off-loading famine relief while engendering little risk to U.S. troops and no long-term commitments. It was also politically significant in that it injected a military component into humanitarian efforts, a rising trend in the aftermath of Operation Provide Comfort in northern Iraq. The airlift did enjoy some success-independent estimates held that some 40,000 lives were saved from August to December 1992 thanks to additional food aid provided by the airlift.(65) But problems arose as well. First, the proposed UN. security force faced innumerable political problems and logistical delays, forcing the U.S. planners to extend the airlift. Second, the food dropped off by the airlift was supposed to be distributed and monitored by the ICRC and several NGOs-U.S. military authorities were to have no role on the ground-but those agencies lacked the manpower to oversee such sizable shipments of food aid dropped off at scattered sites in southern Somalia. In the town of Bardhere, the airlifted food attracted competing militias, triggering episodes of fighting and looting that left target populations worse off than before.(66) And finally, media coverage of the famine was not sated by the airlift, but remained intense, and often critical, right through the election.

Meanwhile, the fundamental obstacle to the relief effort remained security. Estimates of the level of food relief diverted by militias varied--some agencies claimed less than half, others contended up to 80 percent--but it was clearly too much. "It is appalling that there was food at the Mogadishu port but it cannot reach starving people a few kilometers away because of insecurity," argued OFDA Director James Kunder in July 1992. "People are dying in the thousands daily because aid workers cannot move relief food. The world has a responsibility to end that."(67) Militia leaders understood and cynically exploited the fact that relief agencies had institutional imperatives to get food to starving populations and would tolerate virtually any level of looting, extortion and even the deaths of international staff to that end.(68)

Until armed intervention was considered, OFDA and EU officials tried to cope with worsening problems of extortion and looting, much of it orchestrated by militia-backed merchants in Mogadishu, by introducing a monetization scheme in which some high-value food commodities were sold to merchants while low-value food aid continued to be be brought in as emergency relief. This, it was hoped, would both drive down the value of food aid, which had become the major item over which militias fought and enriched themselves, and would give the merchants a financial stake in security rasher then looting. However, since most of the diverted food aid was sold in markets in Ethiopia and Kenya, the policy did not have the anticipated impact on local prices, nor did it break the economy of extortion and banditry which had developed around international relief deliveries.(69) Meanwhile, reports from OFDA's "Disaster Assistance Response Team" brought back bleak news to Washington. In Baidoa, the center of the famine, an estimated 75 percent of the children under five had already died, while over a million more Somalis remained at immediate risk of starvation.(70) And, despite a Herculean international relief effort including a U.S. contribution of food and refugee aid totaling $95 million in fiscal year 1992,(71) humanitarian relief remained crippled by militias diverting and blocking aid convoys. Even the port in Mogadishu was shut down by fighting.

By November 1992, calls for a more forceful humanitarian intervention into Somalia were receiving favorable hearings from President Bush and his cabinet. Some hoped to use Somalia as a "doable" test case to strengthen U.N. peace enforcement in the post-Cold-War era for eminently pragmatic reasons. "The more effective an international peacekeeping capacity becomes, the more conflicts can be prevented or contained, and the fewer reasons there will be for Americans to fight abroad," testified Under-Secretary of Defense Frank Wisner.(72) As during the Cold War, Somalia would once again attract the attention and resources of a superpower, not on its own terms but as part of broader strategic interests.

Operation Restore Hope and UNOSOM, 1993-1994

The Bush administration's decision in late November 1992 to approve a massive humanitarian intervention into Somalia, led by 30,000 U.S. troops, marked a milestone in post-Cold War international relations and transformed the nature of the relief mission into Somalia The details of both the decision to intervene and various interpretations of what subsequently went wrong in the ill-fated intervention are more than adequately treated in other accounts.(73) From the standpoint of continued U.S. humanitarian and development aid to Somalia, the U.S.-led intervention possessed several features worth highlighting. First, Operation Restore Hope was explicitly identified by Washington as a short-term and "purely humanitarian" mission. Reflecting the American preoccupation with avoiding casualties, UNITAF operations were highly risk-averse. Forces were tasked with securing humanitarian relief to starving populations, leaving the problematic issues of demobilization and disarmament, national reconciliation, nation-building and economic development to its successor, the U.N. Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM). With its mission so narrowly defined, Operation Restore Hope could not but be an unqualified success. The military's ability to secure airports, seaports, and protect-relief convoys and feeding centers enabled an uninterrupted flow of food aid to reach famine victims. Within weeks, the intervention effectively broke the back of the famine and suspended, if not eliminated, the economy of extortion to which aid agencies had sucumbed. U.S. emergency relief flowed into Somalia. A total of $174 million was spent in 1993, mostly in the form of USDA Food for Peace, as well as OFDA y rents to NGOs and U.N. agencies, and refugee assistance.(74) Collectively U.S. aid constituted 65 percent of the total food aid Somalia received in 1993, a generous and substantial contribution.

But ending the famine and ending the crisis which provoked the famine were two separate issues. Long-term, sustainable efforts to help rebuild the society and promote reconciliation, public order and development were needed for real success in Somalia. Because the OFDA's mandate was limited to short-term emergencies, it tended to share the military's "quick response" mentality, which focused more on immediate goals than on sustainability. This approach was at odds with the USAID team's, which was more attuned to long-term development and local capacity building.(75) At the field level, it was not difficult for individual aid officials from OFDA and USAID to reconcile short and longer-term objectives, both of which had obvious merit. Still, it highlighted one of the intervention's flaws, the yawning gap between the massive resources and manpower devoted to emergency relief (as well as military outlays) and the extremely scarce funding available for the much more complex task of long-term recovery.(76) USAID in 1993 contributed $29.4 million to a variety of development schemes, including training for the Somali police force and judicial system, demining, and rehabilitation of water, irrigation, and health care systems but had to rely on ad hoc measures by OFDA to redefine funding to assist these programs.(77) Like other major donors, the U.S. budgetary process distinguishes between emergency relief (for which there is ample funding and surplus foodstuffs) and development (for which funding is scarce), creating enormous transition problems in post-emergency settings.(78)

The USAID team thus found itself working with very limited funds to help UNOSOM promote both political and economic reconstruction. In 1993 and 1994, USAID focused especially on the reestablishment of a police and judicial system, which was deemed necessary to provide Somalis a sense of security and an environment in which the economy could prosper. However, USAID faced the same problem as other providers of post-emergency development aid: namely, the prolonged absence of a recognized and authoritative government to which police and judges would be accountable and through which broader development policies could be rationalized and articulated. The very "statelessness" of Somalia posed a fundamental challenge to donors, and presaged donor troubles in other complex emergencies. UNOSOM and donor agencies hoped that the establishment of a Somali Transitional National Council would serve as the "repository of Somali sovereignty" to resolve this dilemma, but endless setbacks in Somali national reconciliation conferences made this impossible.(79) Donors were left with the unenviable task of trying to determine who, in the contentious arena of stateless Somali politics, constituted authoritative local leadership through which development programs could proceed. Militia leaders, factional politicians, elders, intellectuals, merchants and clerics all laid claim to authority; in reality, few possessed it.

The scramble by Somalis to emerge as recognized local leaders through which aid agencies worked was not only an attempt to use foreigners to legitimize their claims on authority; it was also an effort to control the lucrative flow of foreign aid. As in the past, foreign aid during the intervention had a corrosive and distorting effect on Somali politics and economic activity. Employment and contracts with the U.N. agencies and international NGOs became prized commodities, monopolized by factional mafias. The gigantic UNOSOM presence in Mogadishu generated an estimated 11,000 local jobs, which helped Somali households in the short-term but created yet another instance of unsustainable dependence on international aid. And attempts by international donors to fund small projects through "local NGOs," as part of a strategy of capacity-building, inadvertently corrupted the concept, as Somali factions and entrepreneurs created dozens of bogus local "self-help" groups (all with impressive English names and stationery!) that concerned international grants and misappropriated funds and commodities. Somalis were quick to comprehend and exploit the latest approaches of the donor community in order to access their foreign aid. Donor cynicism toward Somalia, already a legacy of bad experiences from the 1980s, deepened with every new case of fraud and extortion. Somali cynicism toward foreign aid deepened as well; local expectations of a foreign-aid bonanza were huge and unrealistic, as many Somalis expected the international community to fund the reconstruction of the entire country. When development aid appeared only in much more modest amounts, Somalis suspected that U.N. and aid officials were diverting funds into their own pockets.

As the U.S.-led UNITAF mission transitioned to UNOSOM in May 1993, divisions surfaced within the U.S. government over the level of development aid the United States should commit to Somali reconstruction. Many in USAID, State, and the NSC saw the need to insure the success of the U.N. mission in order to strengthen U.N. capacity in peace enforcement, and sought to maximize U.S. support for U.N. reconciliation and development initiatives. But once armed hostilities erupted between UNOSOM forces and General Aideed's Somali National Alliance in June 1993, leading to the highly publicized deaths of 17 U.S. Army Rangers that October, congressional support for aid to Somalia withered. Political figures and pundits fell over themselves to express outrage at the "ungrateful" Somalis, and the Clinton administration announced the complete withdrawal of all U.S. military personnel by March 1994. A small staff of U.S. diplomats and USAID officials stayed on until the closure of UNOSOM in March 1995 and oversaw continued aid to police and judicial programs. But the fiasco in Mogadishu had badly damaged U.N. credibility and U.S. hopes of building up U.N. capacities for peace enforcement; the prevailing sentiment in Washington was simply to let the U.N. mission quietly wind down, place blame for the failure of the mission on the United Nations, and leave Somalia alone. For some critics of the intervention, "leaving Somalia alone" was the best prescription for the country's recovery.(80)

The Greater Horn of Africa Initiative

Out of this bleak set of negative experiences with foreign aid to Somalia, as well as similar frustrations in prolonged humanitarian and political crises in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Sudan, officials in USAID have begun exploring alternative approaches to development assistance in the Greater Horn of Africa. The first attempt to articulate a new development philosophy occurred in the midst of a region-wide drought in 1994 when the director of USAID, Brian Atwood, was briefed on the region's core problems: the predominance of man-made rather than natural disasters, which suggested the need for a conflict early-warning system to complement famine early-warning systems already in place; the regional nature of the emergencies, especially refugee flows, which defied state boundaries and rendered state-centered aid strategies irrelevant; difficulties associated with the "relief-to-development continuum" in post-emergency settings; and the pressing need to enhance regional capacity and African "ownership" of solutions to the region's problems.(81) A powerful argument put forward by advocates of a new approach to the region was the grim fact that the Greater Horn of Africa had become, over the course of the past 20 years, the site of the world's most intractable, endemic and expensive humanitarian crises, a cauldron of human misery that $4 billion of international aid between 1985 and 1992 had done little to resolve. International aid, it was argued, served to dress the wounds of regional disasters but was doing little to address their root causes.(82) Out of these discussions emerged what became the Greater Horn of African Initiative (GHAI). As one of Atwood's top priorities and as a presidential initiative enjoying the active interest and support of President Clinton, the GHAI has received priority inter-agency attention in its formulation.

As of early 1997, the GHAI has yet to move from chalkboard to the field, and operationalizing the new approach it embodies will be extremely difficult Conceptually, however, the GHAI is a considerable advance over conventional, project-oriented aid philosophies. Among its most significant strengths are the following:

1) Promotion of regional capacity-building. The GHAI's primary aim will be to strengthen the processes by which both governments and civil society in the Greater Horn prevent or address conflicts and improve food security themselves. At the governmental level, this has led the GHAI to encourage the revitalization of a regional organization, IGADD (Inter-Governmental) Authority on Drought and Development) which governments in the Horn hope will serve as a central forum through which to address regional problems. At the level of civil society, the GHAI seeks to strengthen the role of local NGOs in development aid.

2) Crisis prevention. Atwood has emphasized that one of the primary aims of the Clinton administration is "to help societies build the capacity to deal with the social, economic and political forces that threaten to tear them apart."(83) Within the U.S. government, the GHAI has catalyzed an inter-agency process bringing together members of the State Department, USAID, DIA, CIA and other agencies for periodic meetings under the rubric of a "Reporting, Analysis, Decision-making and Response" (RADAR) team. This has improved information-sharing among agencies and between embassies on emerging regional crises and conflicts. In the region, the GHAI has also helped to set up internet linkages between regional governments in the Greater Horn, enabling them to better share information as well. A significant step in establishing crisis management mechanisms in the region occurred this spring, when governments in the IGADD met and agreed to include conflict prevention in its charter. This will enable IGADD to formulate its own approaches to conflict-prevention measures, which the international community can assist as requested.

3) A regional approach to development aid. As the name of the initiative suggests, the GHAI assumes that crises in the Greater Horn transcend national borders and can only be addressed in a regional framework. Though aid will continue to be allocated bilaterally, the GHAI will encourage efforts to seek "value added" on bilateral projects through regional coordination and facilitate regional efforts to enhance food security. Again, revitalization of IGADD will be central to this objective.

4) African "ownership" of the development process. The GHAI is committed to proceeding along lines prioritized by governments in the Greater Horn in a collaborative relationship with them. Rather than seeking to impose structures and processes on the region--an approach which failed in Somalia--the GHAI will serve as an "enabler," supporting structures and procedures deemed most appropriate by the regional authorities themselves. Because not all of the states in the region are equally enthusiastic about a regional approach to aid and diplomacy (Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda are strong supporters of the approach, while Kenya and Sudan are more reluctant or suspicious), adherence to the principle of African ownership means that the GHAI will be slow to evolve.

5) Emphasis on the continuum between relief and development. Where disasters have erupted, the GHAI is intended to help overcome instutitional barriers to reduce transition problems between emergency relief and development. Past humanitarian emergencies in the region have mobilized vast resources for relief but have offered little assistance for sustainable, long-term reconstruction. Of special importance in this regard is an effort to promote food security in the region.

Significantly, this general approach to foreign aid is shared by most regional governments in the Horn of Africa, and increasingly by other major donors. The coordinating body for emergency assistance from European Community states (ECHO), for instance, has embraced the approach and coordinates policy with USAID in the region. And the U.N. Development Programme has launched a $25-billion development program for Africa that centers on "capacity-building."(84) This broad consensus among the main donors and states in the region is critical in preventing the initiative from being perceived as an exclusively American agenda.

For all of its appeal, however, the GHAI and the ideas it embodies face numerous and potentially debilitating challenges. First, one of its central objectives, conflict prevention, is an inherently elusive goal. Fostering regional integration via IGADD may help reduce interstate conflict in the long run, but most of the conflicts provoking humanitarian crises in the region are intra-state in nature, which IGADD is much less equipped to address. Second, IGADD is problematic as a regional forum serving as the engine of the initiative. For one thing, it does not include several of the southern-tier members of the Greater Horn of Africa, including Rwanda and Burundi. The GHAI is thus of questionable relevance to two of the most pressing political and humanitarian crises in the region. Somalia, meanwhile, remains unrepresented in IGADD as it lacks the essential prerequisite, a recognized government. In addition, a key member of IGADD, Sudan, is virtually at war with neighbors Uganda, Eritrea and Ethiopia. IGADD can either serve as a regional development agency or as a coalition against Sudan, but not both.(85) Still, observers concur that there are no institutional alternatives to IGADD; however imperfect, it is all we've got in the region.

A third challenge relates to the GHAI's principle of "African ownership" of aid prioritization, which begs a fundamental political question in the Horn of Africa: which Africans are to own the process, governments or civil society? Put another way, is the political crisis in the Greater Horn due to parasitic and oppressive state authority, to be remedied by decentralization and the channeling of assistance away from central governments to grass-roots organizations? Or, conversely, are protracted political and humanitarian crises in the region a function of the collapse of effective governance, to be remedied by the strengthening of state authority? A compelling case can be made for both arguments. A case can also be made for the simultaneous strengthening of both state and societal organization as mutually reinforcing processes. But in the context of disputed authority, civil war and scarce resources in the Greater Horn, control over relief and development is viewed by local protagonists in starkly zero-sum terms. States in the region are distrustful of both international and local NGOs, of rhetoric embracing the strengthening of civil society and of any circumvention of sovereign states' control over relief and development aid within their borders.(86)

On paper, the GHAI appears to embrace both a top-down and bottom-up approach in the region. On the one hand, USAID claims to be committed to working to strengthen civil society. As Brian Atwood notes:

We cannot prevent failed states with a

top-down approach. No amount of international

resources or organizational capacity can serve as

a substitute for building stable, pluralist

societies. New partnerships and new tools are

needed to strengthen the indigenous capacity of

people to manage and resolve conflict within their

own societies.(87)

This advocacy of a grass-roots approach to capacity-building coincides with the views of most international NGOs, which for years have served as vital conduits of emergency aid in the Greater Horn and which possess considerable political clout. Their distrust of central state authority is the result of years of experience in which states have often been the primary source of conflict, corruption and humanitarian crises. In one GHAI workshop in October 1995, for instance, a top NGO representative went so far as to conclude that the government of Sudan constituted an "enemy state" in humanitarian terms. In the field, NGOs have sometimes challenged the principle of state sovereignty, refusing to recognize real or alleged state authority.(88) In Somalia, where no state exists, USAID has resolved the sovereignty issue by funneling aid through international NGOs to local communities, essentially sub-contracting a thorny diplomatic issue to actors for whom the issue is less problematic.

But Somalia is the exception rather than the rule. Elsewhere in the Horn, U.S. diplomacy has tilted strongly towards accommodating central governments and their demands for "ownership" of development priorities and allocation. This has meant that colloboration within the GHAI has been almost entirely between donors and states. At the insistence of regional states, international and local NGOs have been given marginal roles to play in the GHAI, a fact which has not sat well with NGO officials; indeed, representatives of international NGOs complain that they were not brought into planning discussions of the GHAI until a year after its genesis. But as long as regional governments continue to distrust development rhetoric that embraces empowerment of civic society, seeing such agendas as meddling in their internal affairs and potentially eroding their own often shaky authority, it is unlikely that the GHAI will be able to effectively implement a two track policy of capacity-building at both state and local levels. Meanwhile, the dilemma for USAID is that misjudgments over the channeling of aid can easily lead to accusations either of strengthening a central state's capacity for repression or a local polity's capacity for secession.(89)

The final and most potent threat to the success of the GHAI is budgetary. Though the GHAI is not premised on large allocations of foreign aid, adequate donor resources are still essential. The decline of Cold War strategic interests in the region, which has freed USAID to pursue more sustainable and thoughtful initiatives there, has simultaneously eliminated the rationale that justified aid in the first place. Ironically, aid resources for the region may dry up at the very moment when a promising philosophy of assistance is being developed.

This is precisely the constraint faced by USAID in Somalia, where a paucity of funding has dramatically reduced both the capacity and influence of American assistance programs. The vacuum created by the shrunken USAID mission has been filled by a robust European Commission, which now dominates donor policies and priorities in the Somalia Aid Coordination Body (SACB), a consortium of donors, UN. agencies, and NGOs operating in Somalia For instance, U.S. contributions to food monetization programs, a critical instrument in the shaping of rehabilitation priorities in Somalia, was dominant from 1992 to 1994, but by 1996 had dropped to only $4 million, compared to $48 million from the European Union. Indeed, the total USAID budget proposal for Somalia for fiscal year 1998, including the categories of development assistance, emergency feeding, food-for-work, monetization and disaster-assistance funds, comes to a mere $15.4 million, and it is likely that request will not be fully funded. As a result, U.S. aid officials have had a much harder time shaping donor policy in the SACB, and American influence over political as well as economic developments in the country have been marginalized.(90)

For Somalis, the real external power broker has become the European Commission, which, armed with a large budget and an extensive team of European technical advisers and consultants, constitutes a virtual surrogate government based in Nairobi, Kenya.(91)

Given these constaints, there is, some critics predict, a real possibility that the GHAI will remain an attractive set of principles that will prove difficult to operationalize in the turbulent Greater Horn. On the other hand, past approaches have so clearly failed the region that no justification can be made for continued business as usual. Without ambitious and creative departures from past practices, and without reasonable levels of funding from donors, the region will again be consigned to another generation of endemic crises, and the United States will continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on reactive humanitarian assistance to preventable crises. (1) This term encompasses the region from Burundi and Tanzania in the south to Sudan in the north--a zone characterized by endemic humanitarian, political, and refugee crises that have presented the international community with some of the most challenging "complex emergencies" in the world. (2) For recent media coverage of this new aid philosophy, see Howard French, "Donors of Foreign Aid Have Second Thoughts," The New York Times (April 7, 1996), p. 5.

(3) Interview with USAID official, June 1996.

(4) See J. Brian Atwood, "Suddenly, Chaos." The Washington Post (July 31, 1994).

(5) This thesis is presented in greater detail in Ken Menkhaus and John Prendergast, "Governance and Economic Survival in Post-Intervention Somalia" CSIS Africa Notes (May 1995), pp. 1-12.

(6) Mark Karp, The Economics of Trusteeship in Somalia (Boston: Boston University Press, 1960), pp. 146-169.

(7) Estimates given here are based on figures from the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers (annual handbook), and cross-checked with the CIA, The World Factbook (1995). It should be noted that total economic and military assistance is difficult to calculate precisely. In addition to routine problems of comparability with statistics, Somalia received a variety of unorthodox forms of foreign aid that did not always appear in official databases. For instance, in the late 1970s the Barre regime unofficially received up to $300 million annually in cash from Saudi Arabia as part of a sweetener to break ties with the soviet union.

(8) These figures were disclosed in an interview with a World sank official in Mogadishu, 1988.

(9) Data are from ACDA, World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, cited and analyzed in Paul Henze, The Horn of Africa: From War to Peace (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991), p. 125. To put this figure in context, in 1987 foreign aid as a percentage of GNP in Sudan was 10.5 percent, and in Ethiopia 11.7 percent.

(10) David Laitin, "Somalia: America's Newest Ally." (unpublished paper, 1979), p. 8.

(11) The Saudis did, however, link the free supply of petroleum to demands that Somali civil servants attend regular Arabic language classes, an extraordinary case of cultural imperialism which the Somalis resented. But, having pragmatically sought membership in the Arab League in 1973 in order to facilitate access to new OPEC wealth, the Somalis had little recourse but to accede to the request. 32A civil servant's monthly pay in the mid-1980s covered only two to three days worth of household expenses.

(13) Several books document the politics of Cold war competition in the Horn of Africa. See Jeffrey Lefebvre, Arms for the Horn: U.S. Security Policy in Ethiopia and Somalia, 1953-1991 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991); Paul Henze, The Horn of Africa: From War to Peace (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991); Steven David, Choosing Sides: Alignment and Realignment in the Third World (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991); Robert Patman, The Soviet Union in the Horn of Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

(14) Henze, The Horn of Africa, p. 119.

(15) Lefebvre, Arms for the Horn p. 15. (16) USAID, Congressional Presentation, Fiscal Year 1990. Annex 1, Africa p. 338.

(17) Peter Schraeder and Jerel Rosati, "Policy Dilemmas in the Horn of Africa: Contradictions in the U.S.-Somalia Relationship," Northeast African Studies 9, 3 (1987) p. 28.

(18) Henze, The Horn of Africa p. 101.

(19) Ozay Mehmet, "Effectiveness of Foreign Aid--The Case of Somalia," The Journal of Modern African Studies 9, 1 (1971) pp. 37-40.

(20) See Catherine Besteman and Lee V. Cassanelli, eds. The Struggle for Land in Southern Somalia: The War Behind the War (Boulder: Westview, 1996).

(21) Frank Mahony, "The Pilot Project in Range Management Near Afmadu." USOM/Somali Republic (March 1961).

(22) Mehmut, "Effectiveness of Foreign Aid," pp. 42-46.

(23) For more detailed discussion, see Lefebvre, Arms for the Horn, pp. 175-205.

(24) Ibid., p. 14, 241. U.S. military aid during this period included $128 million in Military Assistance Program (MAP) funds, $175 million in Economic Support Funds (ESF), $60 million in Foreign Military Sales (FMS), and $7.5 million for an International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. An additional $200 million was released in FMS cash arms agreements.

(25) Ibid., p. 228

(26) Ibid., pp 199-200. Misreading its bargaining position, Somalia initially requested $1 billion over a five year period, a package that would have included advanced military equipment.

(27) David Rawson, The Somali State and Foreign Aid (Washington, D.C.: Foreign service Institute, 1993). Rawson's study is a detailed and valuable analysis of U.S. and western foreign aid to Somalia in the 1980s.

(28) Ibid., pp. 70-80.

(29) CIA, The World Factbook 1995 p. 388.

(30) Melissa Pailthorp, Development before Disaster: USAID in Somalia 1978-1990 (Washington: USAID, 1994), p 1.

(31) Ibid. See also the summary of these various audits and evaluations in Rawson, The Somali State and Foreign Aid, pp. 71-74.

(32) The Somali had established "modern" land-tenure laws in 1974 to replace customary tenure, but the system was badly abused by civil servants and powerful political figures to lay claim to land farmed by smallholders for generations.

(33) See Besteman and Cassanelli, The Struggle for Land. (34) Jeffrey Franks, "Brain Drain or Brain Gain? A Review of USAID Participant Training in Somalia", (for USAID/Somalia, September 1986), p. 5.

(35) World sank, "Somalia: Policy Framework Paper (1989-1991)," (April 1989), p. 11, quoted in Rawson, The Somali State and Foreign Aid p. 54.

(36) Documented in U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) study Famine in Africa: Improving Emergency Food Relief Programs (Washington: GAO, March 1986); it concluded that Somali military diversion of refugee food aid was the worst in the history of U.S. food aid programs.

(37) SDR, Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Planning and Statistics Yearbook of Agricultural Statistics 1986/87, prepared in cooperation with GTZ (Mogadishu: State Printing Agency, 1987).

(38) Thomas LaBahn, "The Development of the Cultivated Areas of the Shabelle River and the Relationship between Smallholders and the state, in Somalia: Agriculture and the Winds of Change, ed. by Peter Conze and Thomas LaBahn (Saarbrucken: epi Verlag, 1986), p. 137.

(39) Max Goldensohn, Don Harrison and John Smith. "Donor Influence and Rural Prosperity: The Impact of Policy Reform on Economic Growth and Equity in the Agricultural Sector in Somalia." (USAID: March 1987), pp. 2-3.

(40) For further details see Kenneth Menkhaus, "Rural Transformation and the Roots of Underdevelopment in Somalia's lower Jubba Valley" (University of South Carolina Ph.D. dissertation, 1989), pp. 390-404; and international Labor Organization, Jobs and Skills Program for Africa (JASPA), Generating Employment and Incomes in Somalia (Addis Abada: JASPA, March 1988), pp. 17-22.

(41) Y. Hossein Farzin, Food Import Dependence in Somalia: Magnitude, Causes, and Policy Options (Washington: World Bank Discussion Paper no. 23, 1988), p. 14.

(42) WFP, "Total Food Aid Deliveries to Somalia, 1982-1987." (Mogadishu, January 10, 1988) (mimeo).

(43) Numerous published studies existed on Somalia's vibrant parallel market; see for instance Norman Miller, "The Other Somalia," Horn of Africa 5, 3 (1982), pp. 3-19; and Boston University, African Studies Center, Somalia: A Social and Institutional Profile (Boston: Boston University Press, 1983), pp. 5-6.

(44) Two biting critiques of international donors in Somalia can be found in Graham Hancock, Lords of Poverty (London: Maemillin, 1989), and Michael Maren, The Road to Hell: The Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International Charity (New York: Free Press, 1996).

(45) Pailthorp, Development before Disaster, p. 64; Rawson, The Somali State and Foreign Aid, p. 46.

(46) See for instance, IMF, "Somalia: Recent Economic Developments, 1981" (mimeo, July 10, 1981), p. 7; and John Holtzman, "Maize Supply and Price Situation in Somalia: A Historical Overview and Analysis of Recent Changes" (SDR Ministry of Agriculture, Working Paper no. 5, May 1987), pp. 8-9, 15.

(47) Rawson, The Somali State and Foreign Aid, p. 115.

(48) Ibid., pp. 39-45.

(49) Ibid., pp. 115-118.

(50) Pailthorp, Development Before Disaster, p. 1.

(51) The most carefully documented accounts include Robert Gersony, Why Somalis Flee: Synthesis of Accounts of Conflict Experience in Northern Somali Refugees, Displaced Persons, and Others (Bureau for Refugee Programs, u.s. Department of state, August 1989), and Amnesty International, Somalia: A Long-Term Human-rights Crisis (New York: Amnesty International, September 1988).

(52) U.S. General Accounting Office, Somalia: Observations Regarding the Northern Conflict and Resulting Conditions (May 4, 1989).

(53) Quoted in Terry Atlas, "Cold War Rivals Sowed Seeds of Somalia Tragedy," Chicago Tribune (Dec. 13,1992), sec. 4, p. 1.

(54) Rawson, The Somali State and Foreign Aid, p. 111.

(55) Jeffrey Clark, "Debacle in Somalia: Failure of the Collective Response," pp. 205-39, in Enforcing Restraint: Collective Intervention in Internal Conflicts, ed. by Lori F. Damrosch (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1993).

(56) This latter issue led to a scandalous situation in which the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) failed to use $68 million budgeted for Somalia for nine months because it could not secure the signature of a Somali government Ibid., p. 220.

(57) Jane Perlez, "Somalia Self-Destructs, and the World Looks On," The New York Times (December 29, 1991), p. 1; for a stinging and detailed indictment of UN inaction in Somalia, see Clark, "Debacle in Somalia."

(58) Refugee Policy Group, Hope Restored? Humanitarian Aid in Somalia, 1990-1994 (Washington DC: Refugee Policy Group, November 1994), p. 20 This is the most extensive reconstruction of decisions involved in humanitarian action in Somalia, rich with interviews with top officials.

(59) An excellent chronicle of congressional action on Somalia is recorded in Refugee Policy Group, Hope Restored? Annex B-2.

(60) See Ken Menkhaus with Lou Ortmayer, Key Decisions in the Somalia Intervention. Pew case Studies in International Affairs, no. 464 (Washington DC: Georgetown university, Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, 1995), pp. 2-3.

(61) Jan Westcon, The Somalia Saga: A Personal Account, 1990-1993 (Washington DC: Refugee Policy Group, November 1994), pp. 14, 22.

(62) Clark, "Debacle in Somalia," p, 212.

(63) Bill Garvelink, quoted in Refugee Policy Group, Hope Restored? p. 7.

(64) Ibid., p. 20.

(65) Ibid., p. 71. (66) Menkhaus, Key Decisions, pp. 5-6.

(67) Quoted in Ibid., p. 2.

(68) For critical commentaries on NGO acquiescence to extortion, see Marguerite Michaels, "Lemon Aid: How Relief to Somalia Went Wrong," The New Republic (April 19, 1993), p. 16; and Maren, The Road to Hell.

(69) For a detailed explanation of the monetization project, see Andrew S. Natsios, "Humanitarian Relief Interventions in Somalia: The Economics of Chaos," International Peacekeeping, vol 3, no. 1 (Spring 1996), pp. 68-91.

(70) Menkhaus, Key Decisions, p. 6.

(71) Refugee Policy Group, Hope Restored? Annex C-1.

(72) Testimony, Hearing on International Peacekeeping and Enforcement, Senate Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Coalition Defense and Reinforcing Forces, 103rd Congress, 1st sees., 14 July 1993.

(73) There are now hundreds of articles, books, and commissioned studies of UNOSOM and Operation Restore Hope. Among the most carefully documented and/or significant accounts include: Refugee Policy Group, Hope Restored?; Clark, "Debacle in Somalia;" Menkhaus, Key Decisions; John Bolton, "Wrong Turn in Somalia," Foreign Affairs vol. 73, no. 1 (Jan.-Feb. 1994), pp. 56-66; John Drysdale, Whatever Happened to Somalia? (London: Haan Associates, 1994); John Prendergast, The Gun Talks Louder than the Voice: Somalia's Continuing Cycles of Violence (Washington: Center of Concern, 1994); and Walter Clarke and Jeffrey Herbst, "Somalia and the Future of Humanitarian Intervention," Foreign Affairs vol. 75, no. 2 (March-April 1996), pp. 70-85.

(74) Refugee Policy Group, Hope Restored? Annex C-1.

(75) Refugee Policy Group, Humanitarian Aid in Somalia: The Role of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) 1990-1994 (Washington, D.C.: Refugee Policy Group, November 1994), p. 4.

(76) UNOSOM had to endure a storm of criticism when it was revealed that for every ten dollars spent on the intervention, nine was earmarked for maintaining and paying the U.N. peacekeeping forces and civilian staff; only one in ten dollars was available for Somali reconstruction and development.

(77) "Refugee Policy Group, Humanitarian Aid in Somalia. Figures are drawn from a U.N. Department of Humanitarian Affairs situation report, November 3, 1993.

(78) Compounding this hudgetary problem still further was that most of the implementing agencies (the NGOs) through which AID and OFDA fiunds were dispersed were defined either as relief agencies or as development agencies and were not structured to cope with transitions from relief to development.

(79) For analysis of Somali national reconciliation, see Ken Menkhaus, "International Peacebuilding and the Dynamics of Local and National Reconciliation in Somalia," International Peacekeeping, vol 3, no. 1 (Spring 1996), pp. 42-67.

(80) Michael Maren, "Leave Somalia Now" The New York Times, July 6, 1994, p. A19.

(81) Interview with USAID officials, March 1996.

(82) USAID, "Breaking the Cycle of Despair: President Clinton's Initiative on the Horn of Africa. Building a Foundation for Food security and Crisis Prevention in the Greater Horn of Africa: A Concept Paper for Discussion," (November 1994), p. 1. Discussion papers and other information on the Greater Horn of Africa can be accessed via USAID's web site.

(83) Atwood, "Suddenly, Chaos."

(84) French, "Donors of Foreign Aid Have Second Thoughts."

(85) Indeed, some observers suspect that U.S. enthusiasm to revitalize IGADD is animated in part by a strategic desire to strengthen regional containment of Sudant's radical Islamism.

(86) For a fresh look at the limits of sovereignty in zones of crisis, see Francis Deng et al., Sovereignty as Responsibilify: Conflict Management in Africa (Washington: Brookings, 1996).

(87) Atwood, "Suddenly, Chaos."

(88) A few NGOs have long ignored the authority of the government of Sudan in their work in southern Sudan. In Rwanda, 39 NGOs were expelled for refusing to register with and pay customs taxes to the new RPF government in 1994; in Somalia, General Aideed sought unsuccessfully to use international NGOs to shore up his claim of sovereign control over Somalia by kidnapping aid workers in the town of saidoa on the grounds that they had not obtained visas from his "government."

(89) John Prendergast, Front-Line Diplomacy: Humanitarian Aid and Conflict Prevention in Africa (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Pub., 1996). (90) Figures based on discussions with UN, EC, and USAID officials in Nairobi, Kenya, August 1996.

(91) As of August 1996, the EC Somalia Unit included one special envoy, three delegates, ten technical advisers, and 25-40 short-term consultants; collectively they prioritize, oversee, and evaluate all EC-funded aid projects in Somalia, which currently totals about $60 million. While this figure is expected to drop significantly in the coming two years, it at least temporarily gives the EC special envoy and his team imperial authority over the weak and fragmented Somali society.

Dr. Menkhaus is associate professor of political science at Davidson College. In 1993-94, he served as special political adviser in the United Nations Operation in Somalia. The author gratefully acknowledge financial support that contributed to this research from the Fulbright doctoral dissertation grant program (1987-88), a summer research grant from the American University in Cairo (1990), and a research grant from Davidson College (1996).
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Title Annotation:Special Focus: U.S. Development Assistance, part 2
Author:Menkhaus, Ken
Publication:Middle East Policy
Date:Jan 1, 1997
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