The ‘Somaliland Special Arrangement’ Simplified

London – The ‘Special Arrangements Contract’ that existed between the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and Somaliland, was an agreement that primarily assured international charity would  be equally distributed to all Somali regions, despite any political differences.

This agreement was signed in 2013 and expired in 2016.  The past 18 months have seen a slow deterioration of the special arrangement conditions.  Most recently, the FGS announced that the special arrangements contract would not be renewed.

Somaliland has been working towards becoming an independent country for almost 30 years.  Some agree, others don’t.  The purpose of this article isn’t to debate the legitimacy of Somaliland’s claim to independence, but rather examine the legitimacy of a ‘Special Arrangement Contract‘. 

Why does Somaliland get special treatment?

Somalia and Somaliland share almost identical challenges; environmental challenges such as frequent droughts, a weak economy and a lack of fully functioning state apparatus. 
Somalia and Somaliland have a lot in common.  The main denominator is of course the fact that both regions are home to ethnic Somalis. 

Because Somaliland is not internationally recognized as an independent country, any charity donated to the ‘Somali people’, is sent by and large to the Federal Government of Somalia.
Unfortunately, Somalia has been regularly ranked as one of the worlds most corrupt countries. This has affected how charity is distributed, and at times, ‘Politicized Charity’.

According to Somaliland, corruption and political blackmail on part of the FGS, created a situation whereby life-saving charity donated to the Somali people, was not proportionately reaching those in Somaliland. 

In 2013, after years of putting pressure on the international donor community, Somaliland were able to convince the Department of International Development (the organization that oversees aid distribution in Somalia), that they were being neglected. Consequently,  the ‘Special Arrangements Contract’ was formed.

If Somaliland gets ‘Special Arrangements’ won’t other Somali regions want the same?

We often hear the phrase ‘Federal Government of Somalia’ but many of us don’t understand what the ‘Federal’ part means.  Simply put, a federation is a collection of different parts that decide to work together as one. Just like that deliciously familiar Somali dish with rice, pasta, meat and chicken all on different parts of the same plate. All distinct yet working together as one.

This is how the Federal Government of Somalia works.  When we hear about those different regions ending with  ‘Land’ or having their own flag, it’s not because they want to be their own nation (with the exception of Somaliland),  it’s because they are semi-autonomous regions that make up the FGS. 

Puntland, Galmudug, Jubbaland, these are all federal member states who in effect, form the FGS.

Because the federal states have not been alienated by the FGS, there has never really been a deep sense of distrust stemming from the systematic abuse of aid distribution.
It is this reason why the other Somali states have not placed pressure on the international donor community for special arrangements.

Why is the Federal Government of Somalia against a renewal?

On the 13th of June 2018, the FGS wrote to the international donor community stating that they do not intend to renew the ‘special arrangements’ that existed between the FGS and Somaliland.
The principle claim by the FGS is that they are better positioned to allocate aid than following a rigid, fixed contractual agreement. 

Ambassador Jamal Hassan of the FGS authored the Special Arrangement termination notice

Often, there are disasters that disproportionately affect one society but not the other.
For example, Somalia has bore the brunt of Al’shabaab terrorist attacks, whereas Somaliland has had almost no terrorist attacks for over a decade.

Likewise, the recent tropical storm ‘Sagal’ that battered the Horn of Africa, caused a greater amount of damage and loss of life in Somaliland.

Simply put, the FGS argue that a ‘special arrangement’ would prevent the flexibility required to distribute aid in a responsive and relative manner.

What does the international community prefer?

The international community, and chiefly those in charge of global charity distribution, simply want charity to reach all those that are in need.  No politics, no corruption, no blackmail. 

In light of the realities on the ground however, specifically the grievances put forward by Somaliland regarding the disproportionate distribution of aid, the international community are in favor of a renewed ‘Special Arrangements Contract’.

The possible outcomes of not renewing the ‘Special Arrangements’ contract

If the contract is not renewed then according to Somalia, they will distribute aid in an equitable way to all Somali regions. 
The FGS knows that if this is done properly, then it could be the key to opening up further funding and international investment.  This is because the essence of distributing food or monetary aid, is transparency and good governance.  It is this kind of leadership that will give the FGS the standing it needs

Somaliland on the other hand, are concerned that the termination of ‘special arrangements’ would unfairly reduce the charity that the Somaliland people receive.  Causing problems across all spectrum’s of society.
Their likely response would be to find a counter-measure to the reduction of charity. 
Such counter-measures would likely include inviting foreign direct investment, or other countries to develop trade ties with Somaliland in order to offset any losses to the economy.