Vol. I, Issue. 1 (Winter, 1993-94): Focus on Ethiopia and Somalia
Peter K. LeMaire
Bernice A. LeMaire
For more information
Editorial: Focus on Somalia and Ethiopia - A Brief Report of the Activities of the ASC,1992-3
by Prof. Gloria T. Emeagwali, Chief Editor of AfricaUpdate
The first meeting of the ASC, the African Studies Committee, took place on September 14, 1992. The main point of discussion was G. Emeagwali's report of visits to three African universities in Nigeria and the Ivory Coast last summer. H. Brown undertook to seek further information on electronic communication with these universities. In the November meeting, Brown presented a detailed analysis of electronic communications with Africa and provided useful information about current programs being launched. At a subsequent meeting, it was decided to solicit responses from Africa-based universities on the matter.
During the Fall semester of 1992, Sherinatu Fafunwa and I embarked on plans for the 1993 Summer session Study Abroad Program. By the end of the Spring, 1993, semester, it was evident there would be eleven participants, five of which were teachers from various parts of Connecticut and six being full-time students.
Attempts to draw Fulbright scholars to our campus seemed promising by the end of the Fall semester despite some early setbacks. We were gratified that the Geography and English Departments were to host two scholars in the Fall and Spring.
A major achievement of the Committee was the passing in the Faculty Senate of the African Studies Concentration. Other notable developments were the establishment of a Book Acquisition Committee under Gabriel Alungbe; the journal exchange program under B. Carmichael; the formal offer by the Consulate General of Nigeria to organize the shipment of books collected; and a dinner-lecture series under the chairmanship of Segun Odesina.
During the year there were two visiting scholars from Africa, namely, Professor Fafunwa, the former Minister of Education of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Agatha Awgu-Jones from the Ivory Coast.
The Basil Davidson and Ali Mazrui video series on Africa became available, in addition to Saaraba, Finzan, and Angano-Angano of the African film series. These films were acquired by Central's History Department.
Seven meetings of the African Studies Committee took place during the 1992-93 academic year, during which its membership grew from four to eleven, including a student representative.
Dr. Ambrose A. Monye currently teaches English here at CCSU. Dr. Monye received his doctorate in English, with an emphasis on African Oral Literature, from the University of Nigeria in Nsukka. He is a former Directory of the Division of General Studies at the University of Benin and has taught African Literature in Nigerian Universities for the past sixteen years. In addition, Dr. Monye received a Fulbright scholarship in recognition of his academic work and expertise. The award allows various countries to exchange scholars, so that in this case African literature might be taught all over the world. Thus is brought the African experience, values, and literary heritage to CCSU. Dr. Monye observes that "there has been a tremendous response from the CCSU community."
When asked for Africa's message in response to their relatives in the New World, Dr. Monye proudly stated, "you have your culture, you have someone behind you, you have a tradition and a culture that you should be proud of. Remember that you have a strong base and a proud mother who has given you birth." In addition, he stated that "The African American must assert himself and express his sense of commitment to the making of the African society."
Dr. Monye believes that his poem, entitled "Africa" is very significant especially for those who do not want to associate themselves with Africa. Dr. Monye stated that, "you cannot just fly to some other place and take root there and grow into something else. Even though you are across the ocean or on the other side you are still from the same tree."
Immemorial bean tree.
Somalia: The Real Background Issues
[Editor's note: This is an abbreviated version of the original article. It lacks the end notes of the original.]
In spite of the brutal colonial experience, political independence [in Somalia] was celebrated with a lot of positive expectations. Until 1969, in spite of severe poverty and the implications of the neocolonial condition, there were visible manifestations of democracy. The veneer of democracy overshadowed conditions of "corruption, inefficiency and misuse of the political system by politicians for selfish economic ends. It turned out that the country's constitutions which had been drafted by Italian and American "experts" (allegedly in a Roman hotel over a bottle of whiskey!) was insensitive to the specificities of the various clans, in particular the Isaacs of the North and had "overlooked. . .electoral mechanisms necessary to minimize resilient clan loyalties and channel parochial interests towards national objectives." Within a year of political independence, the North had voted against the Union constitutions. In December, 1961, a coup attempt by northern army officers failed. Though the country had gained some strength from its cultural, racial and religious homogeneity, the contradictions of foreign domination and exploitation, elite subservience to western interests, and the limited hegemony of the post-colonial state made it difficult to promote national unity, growth, development and political consensus.
Eventually, the stalemate during the 1969 elections, lack of consensus among the political leaders and parties, and the assassination of the president on October 15, 1969, created the political vacuum which facilitated the coup by the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, Major General Siyaad Barre. Barre's regime, to put it mildly, was corrupt, irresponsible, ruthlessly repressive, and grossly subservient to foreign interests and dictates.
Finally, at this point, the government, in the context of widespread oppositions and inability to command the support of large segments of the population, resorted to "harsh counter-insurgency measures" which resulted in "wholesale slaughter of noncombatants, serial bombardment of civilian targets, secret detentions in squalid conditions, the burning of villages, the indiscriminate use of land mines, the deliberate destruction of reservoirs and the killing of livestock, the lifeline of the rural population. . . . Entire regions have been devastated by a military engaged in combat against its own people, resembling a foreign occupation force that recognizes no constraints on its power to kill, rape, or loot." Such actions generated organized opposition within and outside Somalia. In addition, rather than promote social programs that would ensure national unity, mobilization, and development, the regime relied on defensive radicalism, rhetoric, propaganda, and repression. Rather than create an environment for the diversification of the economy and the steady and systematic support for the accumulation patterns that would lead to the emergence of a strong and productive bourgeoise class, the Bare regime "influenced by a lumpen and clannish outlook, drastically disrupted the slow but steady development of Somali petty bourgeois strata in a futile though tragic attempt to impose a clan hegemony. . .Siyaad was not interested in building a 'state class'. . .he used every opportunity to establish a 'state clan.'" Under these conditions, it was just a matter of time before the process of total decay and disintegration set in.
If we locate Barre and his atrocities within the Somali political economy, we notice that the developments described thus far were taking place in one of the poorest, aid-dependent, marginal, underdeveloped, least industrialized, technologically backward, foreign dominated and vulnerable economies of the world. At independence in 1960, Somalia was and has remained one of the poorest countries in Africa. The World Bank and IMF practically ruined whatever was left of the Somali economy by imposing unrealistic monetarist policies on the country in the 1980s. The policies de-legitimated the state, alienated the people, ruined the entrepreneurial class, and pitted the state against the people. Today, both organizations are silent, pretending that they had no hand in the Somali disaster. It was in the context of these debilitating conditions that the Barre regime squandered Official Development Assistance (ODA), which accounted for 37 percent of GDP by 1984, and diverted massive military aid to large-scale human rights abuses and the repression of popular organizations.
The 1977 war (in support of the Western Somali Liberation Front [WSLF] with Ethiopia over the disputed Ogadeen region and culminated in a crushing defeat largely as a precipitate of Soviet support for the Mengistu regime in Ethiopia. This forced Barre, a former staunch ally of the Soviet Union, to opt for American support. This switch was very "rewarding," as it earned the Barre regime substantial military and economic support from America. With the military and economic aid, the regime was able to wage its war against growing opposition and persecute so-called communist organizations. Siyaad Barre practically destroyed several village and massacred thousands of Somalis.
The Majareeten, the Isaacs, and the Hawiye clans were ruthlessly suppressed. Unfortunately for the Barre regime, the United Somali Congress (USC), formed by the Hawiye (one of the numerous opposition movements) was strategically located to effectively challenge and unseat the repressive policies of the government and the army. Barre left Somalia in ruins and on the verge of dismemberment. The fall of the Barre regime did not lead to the restoration of peace and harmony or to the promotion of an environment for national reconciliation, reconstruction, and rehabilitation in Somalia.
Without doubt, support from the United States was a major part in Siyaad Barre's arrogance, repressive politics, human rights abuses, and refusal to tolerate opposition. For all its oppressive actions, the Barre regime received little or no condemnation from the Western powers. The depth of the destruction in Somalia could have been mediated if the OAU, the UN, and the great powers, especially the United States, had responded in a comprehensive and serious manner on time. All over Africa, the state is under severe strain. This means that there is no reason not to expect a repeat of the Somali situation in places like Togo, Zaire, and Liberia
The Role of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the Development of the Informal Sector in Ethiopia by Zenebworke Bissrat, Addis Ababa
Like most developing nations, many African countries have been experiencing economic difficulties. African governments are putting quite a lot of efforts to develop both the agricultural and industrial sectors. However, the inappropriate technology, the traditional system of farming and the heavy external debt among others, have hindered the development of the commercial, agricultural and industrial sectors. In common with other sister African countries, Ethiopia too is in the same economic crisis.
The drought that had been prevalent for a long time resulted in the displacement and the uprooting of individuals and families from their native areas. In addition, the confiscation of private property by the defunct regime of the socialist government had made people landless.
The implementation of Structural Adjustment Programs, (SAP) in Ethiopia has led to the retrenchment of a number of civil servants, thereby inflating the urban poor. Moreover, a significantly large number of school drop-outs could not be effectively included in the employment plan of the government, due to the implementation of SAP in Ethiopia. The other group that has contributed to the "new poor" or the "poorest of the poor" is the army that has been demobilized at the end of the thirty-year war in Ethiopia.
Because Ethiopia is in social, political and economic crisis, and because with government budget alone, the country cannot solve the problems enumerated above, humanitarian and church organizations (NGOs) have begun to respond to the problems of the Ethiopian society.
The social and political crisis affecting the economy, coupled with natural calamities, have caused the NGOs to get involved in the development of the informal sector in Ethiopia.
Although an in-depth study has not been conducted, a brief assessment of the eleven NGOs (attached as appendix) indicate that their contributions are immense to the Ethiopian society in the development of the informal sector. Their efforts seemed to have opened up avenues for income-generation for many of the target groups. The beneficiaries of the NGOs' developmental efforts are realizing the need to work and become self-reliant rather than be dependent on others and lose their human dignity. Many NGOs have helped individuals in the society to restore their self respect and dignity by helping them to participate in various activities, including those in the informal sector.
Development of any kind begins from developing the people themselves. Therefore, the NGOs' efforts to fulfill these objectives are found to be very encouraging. They have managed to help their respective target groups to discover themselves and to open up to identify their needs.
Accordingly, services are catered to the target groups per their needs or per their preferences. Both urban and rural target groups are benefiting from the services of the NGOs.
In fact, the NGOs are working with the needy, illiterate, educated, destitute, young, old, weak, strong, disabled, able bodied groups of societies, on one hand and governments, community leaders, woredas, kebeles, and international organizations and philanthropists on the other. Almost all the NGOs are catering services to improve the living standard and quality of life of the people. Both rural and urban needy people are benefiting from their services. Motivating individuals to be self-reliant and to operate in informal sector activities to break out of poverty is one of the major objectives of most NGOs. Some of the services rendered include the following:
NGOs are encouraging rural as well as urban dwellers to generate income from their agricultural products by making credit available to them. Quite a number of beneficiaries are getting credit to work on horticulture, beekeeping, weaving, fuel stove making, poultry development, garment making, soap making, food processing, rug/carpet making, etc. The NGOs help the target groups to market their products both in the rural and urban setting.
There are two loan schemes that could be used by beneficiaries to meet their needs for capital in their income generating activities. There are two loan schemes.
Revolving fund loan scheme: This scheme provides individuals or groups with a loan without interest to start small business, i.e. petty trade, or financial input in agricultural activities, in most cases. The minimum and maximum grant differs from one NGO to another. For example, maximum loan grant by the Christian Children's Fund is 500 Birr per month, while the National Women and Development Technical Services Association provides up to 10-10,000 Birr per person.
Credit and saving loan scheme: This loan scheme provides individuals with credit facilities on the basis of what they have saved individually. There is a 1% interest on the loan provision (this scheme has been developed by the Christian Children's Fund).
Training in small business operation
NGOs make provisions of loans as well as offer training opportunities on how to keep records of their income and expenditures and how to operate small businesses.
Training in credit and savings: In order to create the culture of savings amongst the target group (the poorest of the poor), NGOs arrange with the local bank, - Saving and Credit Development Office, (SACDO), training programmers in the areas of credit and saving.
Training in crafts: In order to provide income-generating skills to beneficiaries, many NGOs are providing training services in crafts. Some of the beneficiaries are successfully operating businesses in the informal sector, such as dress making, weaving, pottery making, bamboo products, etc.
Training in agricultural activities: In the agricultural sector, training is offered in handling small ruminants, dairying, making baby food, vegetable gardening, and the marketing of agricultural produce.
It may be gauged from the above analysis that the NGOs are supporting, in many ways, both individuals and families to be independent and self-reliant by participating in the informal sector of the economy.
Problems and prospects
At an initial stage, the entry to the informal sector is easy and the input of indigenous resources could facilitate the operation for the take off within a short period of time. In order for this sector to develop and grow there is a need to create the proper environment both for the donors and for the target groups. However, the informal sector is operating without the following important institutional and legal framework:
As the informal sector activities are often small scale operations, it is totally ignored by the government and other institutions. Since they operate in the absence of a responsible government body, the development of the sector has been arrested.
Policies There is no government policy to protect the loans as well as the other resources NGOs provide to the beneficiaries. So far, the internal or international policies of the NGOs are the only system that guarantees the repayments of the loans. If there were policies on repayments, risks could be minimized.
Training in Crafts for Self-reliance
Since some of the crafts training is replicated by many NGOs, beneficiaries cannot start businesses very easily upon completion of training programmes. In other words, training activities of NGOs for the development of the informal sector are not coordinated and consequently, there is and imbalance in the demand and supply of skills. This prevents the absorption of skilled manpower in certain business activities.
Conclusions and recommendations
In order to alleviate poverty, NGOs are responding to the development of the informal sector. However, there is a need for the government to give special attention to this sector of the economy, particularly since the sector is expected to play an even more important role in creating employment and providing services to the society. The following policies would help to create a conducive environment to improve the development of the informal sector:
Structure: There is a need to create a responsible organ for the informal sector of the economy. The sector could develop and grow and finally graduate to the formal sector, given a conducive environment for its operations. In the absence of a responsible government institution for the informal sector, the promotion and development of this sector would be seriously impaired. Therefore, a structure should be established to facilitate and support the activities of the informal sector.
Cooperative development policy: A policy, defining the role of the informal sector cooperative (or group business activities for small operation), should be issued by the government. This would encourage groups to work together with confidence and also enable them to derive reasonable income from their business/farm to make them self-reliant.
Tax policy: There is a need to issue policy on taxation that protects the small business/farm owners until such time that they begin to reinvest and expand their business/farm. In order to help the beneficiaries as well as the sector to develop, there is a need to issue a tax policy specific to the sector. Many individuals are discouraged from developing their businesses because of the fear of taxation. At this point, there is need to educate the target group in business expansion and development as well as in the taxation policy so that they could be encouraged to develop their businesses.
Institutional support by NGOs: Special mandate should be given to woredas and kebeles to protect and support the NGOs operating within their areas. The support could be in facilitating the NGOs work by identifying land, or houses that could be used as bases or operational areas. It is also important to know and recognize the activities of the NGOs so that the kebels and woredas identify the genuine beneficiaries as well as carry out some follow-up activities.
In general, the NGOs are contributing immensely in the development of the informal sector but special measures are still needed to help those engaged in informal sector activities to graduate to more productive and formal sector activities.
In this regard, some workers could be assigned to Woredas and Kebeles to help identify needs of individuals and families for income-generation activities.
Assessment of training programmes: A number of NGOs are training the beneficiaries in craft production skills. Indeed, this is a very positive and important contribution. However, it is timely to diversify skills training in order to avoid saturating the market with certain skills. There is need to focus also on other skills such as: baby sitters, maids, nurses, physiotherapists, (and other medical related skills), catering services as well as office skills. Indeed the training should be effective and rewarding both to the community, beneficiaries as well as to the NGOS.
NGOs should encourage the beneficiaries to work together in order to develop their businesses so they could graduate to the formal setting. Special attention should be given to those engaged in petty trades who have the potential to grow, given the financial support, knowledge and skills.
Continuous assessment of the development of the individuals in the business field or the farm business should be made in order to consider the ability and the effectiveness of the beneficiaries' business operation so that it can expand and develop.
The other important area where NGOs should encourage the beneficiaries to enter into is the repair and maintenance businesses, i.e. vehicle, television, refrigerators, radios, etc. Indeed these areas require some technical knowledge as well as equipment for the maintenance of such items.