Turkish model helped reverse ‘broken window’ syndrome in poor Somalia - Opinion - nation.co.ke
In a country that has seen few heroes and role models, and where foreigners are generally viewed with suspicion, the hero’s welcome accorded to Turkey’s president Tayyip Erdogan in Mogadishu last week was an indication that the Turkish model of development assistance is bearing fruit.
Turkey, more than any country, has had a visible and tangible presence in Somalia since the 2011 famine when Erdogan, who was then the prime minister, made a landmark trip to the Somali capital and pledged to rebuild the country.
Erdogan kept his promise; Mogadishu today not only has a shiny new airport terminal but among the best equipped hospitals in the region, built with Turkish engineers and architects and manned by Turkish personnel.
These, among other projects, have had a significant impact on the lives of the war-weary residents of the Somali capital. Things were so bad before that when Amisom opened its military hospital to the public, it was overwhelmed with people seeking treatment.
The Turkish “feet-on-ground” approach has been welcomed by a majority Somalis who, despite the millions of dollars in donor aid provided by Western and Arab countries in the last two decades, have remained among the least serviced people in the whole of Africa, thanks to perennial conflict, corrupt politicians, mismanaged aid projects and clan-based politics that created warlords who were not accountable to anyone except their clan-based militias.
According to the US-based Somali analyst Abukar Arman, Erdogan’s appeal lies in the fact that he resisted “Nairobi’s magnetic field of international corruption”.
Arman claims that between 1991 and 2011, the UN and its affiliated international organisations, based mostly in the Kenyan capital, collected an estimated $55 billion in the name of Somalia, but that very little of this money went towards development or infrastructure projects.
The UN has been particularly criticised not just by Somalis but by the UN’s internal watchdogs as well. Last year the UN’s Office for Internal Oversight Services concluded that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) could not provide any assurance that the money it spent in Somalia was used for the intended purpose.
Another internal audit by the UNDP-Somalia office indicated that the office could not determine whether the NGOs it had contracted in Somalia had the capacity to carry out the work they were contracted to do or to account for the funds provided by UNDP.Several cases of fraud were discovered. In many cases, there was no financial reporting on how funds were used or disbursed. It is possible that a large proportion of these funds were either misused or stolen.
It is no wonder then that Somalia’s schools, hospitals, roads, buildings and other infrastructure remained in a deplorable state. While some parts of the country, notably Somaliland, instituted their own governance mechanisms, and got on with the task of reconstruction, most parts of the county still suffer from a lack of basic services.
Islamic charities and entrepreneurs try to fill the gap, but they cannot meet the huge demand. Meanwhile, the UN and the international community has continued to focus mainly on governance issues by bankrolling successive governments that have little or no interest or capacity in rebuilding the country.
What is Turkey doing differently? In my view, Turkey reversed the “broken window syndrome” that has prevailed in Somalia since the start of the civil war.
This psycho-social syndrome occurs when a broken window in a building is not repaired in time, which leads people, including the inhabitants, to break more windows. It is like those pedestrians who have no qualms about adding more litter to a street that already has a lot of uncollected filth and garbage.
In the urban context, it is when petty crimes, such as vandalism, are tolerated, which then paves the way for bigger crimes to be committed. When the small crimes are not punished, people become emboldened to commit larger crimes.
Turkey showed that a clean, functioning urban environment can generate a desire to maintain such an environment, and can lead to the creation of more clean, functioning environments. Reconstruction involves changing people’s mindset about their surroundings.
The Turkish model appears to be based on this concept.
Source: Daily Nation