Climate Claim: Somali Pirates and Warlords Need More Access to Financial Services

Essay by Eric Worrall

According to European academic models, the reason the Horn of Africa is a crime and war torn horror show is locals don’t have enough access to Western financial services and high quality crops.

We built an algorithm to predict how climate change will affect future conflict in the Horn of Africa: here’s what we found

Published: July 6, 2022 8.33pm AEST

Jannis Hoch Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Natural Hazards, Utrecht University
Niko Wanders Assistant Professor in Hydrological Extremes, Utrecht University
Sophie de Bruin Researcher in Environmental Change, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

To try to project future risks from armed conflict in the region into the future, we – researchers from Utrecht University and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, together with the Peace Research Institute Oslo and Uppsala University – created a new machine learning model to look at how different scenarios of armed conflict over the African continent could play out between now and 2050. Specifically, we wanted to know how armed conflict could be affected by climate change, as well as by future social and economic development.

Our results showed that cutting emissions globally and investing in socioeconomic development locally can reduce the risk of conflict. Doing this would also have the added benefits of helping local food production flourish and lowering dependency on the international trade market. But when we ran this scenario, the Horn of Africa still remained especially prone to conflict.

For example, it’s important that local farmers are given better access to banks and insurance, so if their crops fail one year they can start again the next. Farms need to prioritise crops that are more resilient against drought, such as quinoa, millet and sorghum. And financial organisations, governments, businesses and local communities must all be made responsible for lowering emissions and keeping climate change to a minimum

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I’m pretty sure there might be one or two social issues which need to be sorted out, before Western banks start issuing rural Somalis with credit cards.

Having said that the Horn of Africa isn’t an unrelenting horror show. I remember watching an interview a long time ago with a finance minister of Somaliland, a comparatively stable region of the Horn of Africa, who explained the reason for the stability of Somaliland is the LACK of access to Western banking services.

I can’t find the original interview, but there are plenty of others who came to the same conclusion.

In Somaliland, less money has brought more democracy

Unable to access foreign aid, Somaliland’s government has had to negotiate with citizens and business leaders for financial support – and provide stability and democracy in return

Nick Eubank
Fri 26 Aug 2011 16.00 AEST

As the humanitarian crisis in southern Somalia threatens millions of lives, Somalia’s little-known northern neighbour, Somaliland, is doing so well that its government recently offered to send aid across the border. That a small and relatively poor country that is also suffering from the ongoing drought would be in a position to help Somalia is itself remarkable; that Somaliland achieved this position without being officially recognised by the international community as a sovereign nation – and thus without being eligible for international assistance – is truly impressive.

But have Somaliland’s accomplishments come in spite of its ineligibility for foreign assistance, or because of it? Somaliland’s success – providing peace, stability and democracy in a region where all are scarce – is in large part due to the fact that the government has never received foreign aid. Because Somaliland’s government cannot access funding from the World Bank, IMF, or other major donors, officials were forced to negotiate with citizens and business leaders for financial support. This negotiation created the responsive political institutions that, in turn, have allowed the nation to fare relatively well in recent years and in the current crisis.

In one notable incident, the government was forced to implement democratic reforms in exchange for tax revenues from Somaliland’s main port. These revenues total less than $30m a year – a fraction of the more than $100m the government would have received from aid organisations if Somaliland had been eligible for international assistance. It is difficult to imagine that the owners of the port would have been able to exact the same concessions if the government had other funding options.

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I suspect the absolute worst thing which could happen to Somalia is what the climate academics say their models advocate, more access to foreign cash. Dropping a truckload of Western money and financial “support” onto a government which has only recently and grudgingly accepted democratic reform, because this was the only way they could convince people to pay their taxes, could wreck the delicate accord which has hopefully set at least one part of Somalia onto the path to better governance, and undo all their hard won progress.

via Watts Up With That?

July 7, 2022 at 05:03PM

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