Somalia and Foreign Aid/Development

The choice by strong states to provide foreign aid has always been classically justified by humanitarian intentions. However, post 9/11 foreign aid has become a clear calculated tool by states to stabilize war-torn/unstable regions across the globe. These regions that a marred by generally corrupt political systems and broken chains of governance provide solace for current modern terrorist/insurgent groups. Foreign aid from this perspective shows that the onset of incentivizing development within the African continent is undoubtedly a self-serving cause. The goal of the larger global community then becomes nothing short of security. Providing aid to Africa is a diplomatic method of mitigating the threat of the turmoil and extremism present within large swaths of the continent’s populace.

The Federal Republic of Somalia is indisputably guilty of such high degrees of both political stability and violent extremism. To truly understand the necessity for foreign action, understanding the socio-economic state of the failed state is also required. In terms of economics Somalia maintains an average GNP of about 288USD per capita and has very few profitable economic sectors. There are self-proclaimed governments in Puntland and Somaliland that further fragment the nation, along with continual border disputes with its neighbors in Ethiopia as well as Kenya. The most destabilizing force within Somalia remains to be the extremist Islamic terrorist force known as Al-Shabab. At one point this armed force controlled a majority portion of the federal republic, until a united international coalition (AU & UN) pushed the remaining forces to the fringes in rural Somalia. These facts show pointedly that the benefits of foreign manipulation far outweigh the negatives of leaving such nations to attempt success blindly by themselves.

Somalia’s particular relationship with foreign aid is primarily shaped by two factors the actions of its newly reformed recognized government and the presence of Anti-Western ideology sourced from Al-Shabab. Like all weak and fractured governments Somalia has suffered from the failures in leadership and utilization of aid, because of overt corruption and culture of neopatrimonialism. It is however an understated fact that the trends of severe corruption and political coups has slowed in its frequency within Africa. Arguably it is because after years of consistent incentives to develop that Somalia enjoys the state in which the nation now finds itself. Programs through USAID and NGO’s and military training through AFRICOM; have improved the social status of the Somali people channeled the latent energy of the populace to reform and stabilized the region, which all ultimately allows government to function. Somalia is now a recognized nation by the international community because the current regime has a heavy incentive to offer at least the façade of improvement. Intentions of reform and collaboration with foreign powers in terms of providing security and additional social development allows international donors to pledge billions of dollars to Somali aid (24 bil- New Deal). Another tangible affect of foreign aid in Somalia is the significance of remittance to the Somali economy. The large diaspora of Somali people throughout the globe often contribute money back to their original territory in what is presently a 1.5 billion dollar trade relationship. Foreign aid allows the Somali government to focus the resources received abroad and allows a domestic economy to be build in order to reduce the dependency on remittances. The impact of Al-Shabab on Somali culture is no doubt great, but specifically changes the nature in which foreign aid can affect the populace. Early in the Somali and foreign donor relationship, the populace was receptive associating foreign intervention with that of resources and infrastructure. However, due to the implementation of sharia law amongst the fringes of Somalia as well as the monopolization of education by the Islamic extremism progress within the nation becomes that much harder. Anti-Western ideology disallows foreign aid and development to truly reshape the Federal Republic into a more successful national power.


Marsai, V. (2015). Somalia: Security for whom? The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs, 24(4), 35-III. Retrieved from

Al-Shabab: Ten things to know about the Somali Islamic extremist group

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