Ethiopia:This is the true reality in Somali regional state: not what the regional propaganda machineries depict
We have got hold of a study carried out by a foreign consultant about the reality in Somali regional state. Unlike what daily being broadcasted and posted by the Ethiopian Somali Television (ESTV) and Cakaranews and many regional president personally sponsored websites all over the world, the leaked report clearly depicts that the actual development in Somali regional state. We, therefore, thought it would be important that we share with our readers and supporters all over the world. Although the ordinary folk know the reality at the grassroots levels, it seemed to us very important to include the main finding of this report in this article. However, if any one wants further information, we will like to refer our readers at the end of this article to our personal blog where all the documents/studies are archived. As a result, this article will focus on the key findings only. This will give the reader a comparative scale to weigh what the regional state daily feeding us through its propaganda machinery and what the reality at the ground is.
According to this study, the Somali regional state’s poor development indicators compared to others parts of Ethiopia read as the following. The report even questioned the accuracy of this data. Therefore, one always should approach these figure with greater caution. According the report find that primary enrolment rate is 51% in Somali regional state while it is almost 82% nationally (much more less), antenatal care coverage is 30% in Somali regional state but it is 71% nationally (this is the figure given by the regional and federal government). It is expected to be much lower than this figure. And safe water coverage is 44% in Somali regional state while it is 69% nationally. The Somali region data here is more generous than what real the people have access to. This is because all Somali regional state’s biggest problem is the lack of water. Therefore, one could easily assume that the Somali regional state safe water coverage is much lower than 20% -30%. The study also looked at the limited livelihood
opportunities (particularly for youth and women). It concluded that outside of pastoralism opportunities in the regional state are few. The regional state could have become a hub for business entrepreneurships due to Somali people’s early exposure to business practices. With the right policy and good measures the regional state could have fostered best business practice. It is only the qat trade that is out of scope of the regional government that is currently active business in Somali regional state. However, it is viability is questionable because of its health and social impact it has on the citizens. The regional government could have jeopardised even this non-viable trade had it got the chance to control it with nepotism and favouritism. Qat traders are protected by the federal government simply because it generate a huge amount of foreign currency.
In addition, the report indicated that existence of high levels of food insecurity and a chronic dependence on food aid. Besides, the report found that as elsewhere in Ethiopia, opportunities are constrained by poorly functioning markets, but in the regional state are further compounded by restrictions on trade and mobility. Trade restriction was introduced for single purpose: to suffocate the rebel organisation. However, the regional government use it as a hidden agenda of expanding grand ogaden theory by targeting peaceful and quiet area close to the border area. This purposeless policy of blanket ban on trade has severely impacted on the development of the regional state. There is no coherent and clear contraband policy against the goods and service from neighbouring country. As well known districts in remote and far border area of the region have never been covered by the regional and federal service provided by public and private organisation. In absence of public and private services in these hard-to-reach areas, they rely very much on the products and services from the neighbouring countries, such as Somaliland, Puntland and Somalia. However, the regional officials have shown open hostilities towards border traders by public shunning even bottled water from Somaliland. It is reported that the regional and vice president, Abdi Mohamed Omar and Abdillahi Werar (ethiopia), respectively, have shoved off from their table bottled mineral water imported from Somaliland when they were visiting border districts. This open hostility has no meaning other than racism. This is also in direct contradiction with federal government policy of improving border trading among communities on both sides of the border.
The study talk about the recent discovery of oil and gas deposits in the Region, however, it give its damning assessment that insecurity and limited access to justice are having great restraint on the regional state’s ability to effectively utilize these natural endowments for the benefit of the regional state and country in general. Due to insecurity prevalent in the regional state, the regional government in collaboration with the federal government have established Liyu police (special police) in 2007 as a main vehicle to bring about peace and tranquillity in the regional state. However, in stark contrast to what we are daily hearing and seeing in the regional propaganda machineries, the report analysed that the special police have seriously failed to achieve its primary aim. Rather it has contributed its own fair share in the insecurity prevalent in the regional government. The big problem encountering the special police has been studied by this report. According to this study, it has been found that the special police have serious organisational, structural, and capacity shorting comings.
The study carried on to elaborate that as a result of insecurity and limited access to justice, the Region is host to conflicts between clans over natural resources and between the Federal Government and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (an insurgency group with a separatist agenda). The Regional Special Police and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) are routinely associated with human rights abuses. The study concluded that there could be a potential danger that the conflict in neighbouring Somalia to spill over.
The study has mentioned that Justice sector is characterised by a mixture of state and traditional structures and increasingly unable to deal with rising levels of fatal violence. The inherent tribalism rampant in the regional state and failure of the regional authority to grip with the negative trend due to their rent seeking mentality have serious implication for the regional state to cope with the development pace other part of the country’s regional state achieving. Most of times the regional state officials are spend their official working hours and most of the rest period in devising a rent seeking activity. Instead of effectively designing policy and programmes they are witnessed trying to impress their masters in the federal government other key military positions. The regional government spend significant amount of resources and valuable times on manufacturing of massive propaganda. A lot of commentators wonder why the federal government simply remain inactive while the state resource is being plundered by the regional officials. The regional state officials shower federal government officials with gifts and presents when the latter visit the regional government. Diaspora delegate who are flocking from abroad are being given cash and gift in kind without investing anything in the regional government. One unwitting federal government official heard of saying how the regional government effectively created a strong diaspora community more than any other regional state in the nation after his hotel bill was paid and he was given expensive gifts in London by the regional president agent who usually stack regional budget to distribute among cronies. Sometime I wonder if this is federalism: where the poor pastoralists have nothing to feed their children and die of starvation. Even rich countries would not have such lavish spending resources. Unfortunately all these money is given by western countries that have other objectives.
The study finally find that women and girls are the biggest losers: poor security limits their access to education; long distances to water sources increases their exposure to violence; and they are a target for armed groups with frequent reports of sexual violence. Ninety-seven percent of Ethiopian Somali females have undergone some form of female genital mutilation. Access to justice is limited to traditional institutions in most areas with no form of redress.
The report concludes that what is happening in the Somali Region state matters to Ethiopia’s development and future stability. Ethiopia will not reach the MDGs without addressing the development deficit in the developing Regional States (including Somali Region). An insecure Somali Region with limited governance capacity will undermine progress towards stability across the Horn, as well as limiting future exploitation of valuable natural resources. And Somali Region’s consistent allegations of human rights abuses pose both substantive as well as reputational concerns.