SOAS University of London

Perceived improvement in safety, security and wellbeing in Somaliland, according to report led by SOAS scholar

20 November 2013

A study led by Dr Laura Hammond, Head of the Department of Development Studies at SOAS, University of London, has reported perceived improvement in safety, security and wellbeing in Somaliland as a result of the work being carried out by the Danish Demining Group.

The report Safety, Security and Socio-Economic Wellbeing in Somaliland was produced for the Danish Demining Group (DDG), a Humanitarian Mine Action and Armed Violence Reduction Unit of the Danish Refugee Council, with support from the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), an international organisation based in Switzerland, which provides advice and capacity development support, undertakes applied research, disseminates knowledge and best practices and develops standards.

The aim of the study was to evaluate the links between security and economic well-being, looking specifically at the work carried out by the Danish Demining Group. The report was based on quantitative research with 378 households as well as qualitative interviews in 12 communities in Somaliland in March 2013.

High street in Hargeisa the capital of Somaliland
There is more market activity when people feel safer, according to the study. High street in Hargeisa the capital of Somaliland. Credit: Laura Hammond

The main findings were perceived improvements in safety and security following implementation of DDG’s community safety activities, perceived improvements in socio-economic wellbeing following DDG’s activities and links between DDG’s activities, improved security and economic and social development.

Speaking about the report’s findings, Dr Hammond commented: “This study is important because while there is a widespread assumption, reflected in international treaties and aid budgets, that greater security will lead to improvements in socio-economic well-being, there has been a lack of evidence showing the link. Clearly there are a lot of variables affecting both security and socio-economic wellbeing, but what is clear is that when people feel safer there is more market activity, less conflict, and they are better able to pursue their livelihoods to greater effect. The study was also important because we made a deliberate effort throughout to make sure that women’s perspectives were fully considered. Security can have very different meanings for men and women, and this study provides important information on how women think about personal and community security, and how that translates in many cases into economic opportunity.”

As well as recommending that DDG should continue its general approach with respect to community safety, the report’s recommendation included: further research on the impact of DDG activities in urban areas, refine Conflict Management Education (CME) to focus in more depth on land and property-based conflicts, include more women as CME trainers and facilitators, and adapt CME activities to better address security concerns of women, including (but not limited to) rape and sexual violence and provide more training to community and district safety committees on all aspects of DDG’s safety interventions.

The report also identified several possible activities, some of which may fall outside the mandate of DDG but have a bearing on community safety, security and/or livelihoods. These included fencing berkads (man-made ponds and water-storage facilities) to prevent drowning accidents among children, the provision of sustainable (solar powered) streetlights to improve night-time security and to enable businesses to remain open in the evenings, and employment generation. While DDG’s Armed Violence Reduction Framework also clearly identifies unemployment as a root cause of insecurity, provision of vocational training and large-scale job creation is beyond DDG’s mandate.

The team consisted of team leader Dr Hammond, Ms Åsa Massleberg, Gender Advisor of the GICHD. In the field, supervision was provided by Johannes Fromholt and Ayan M. Handule, Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor and Coordinator (respectively) for the DDG in Somaliland. Experienced researchers led each team, specifically, SOAS PhD candidate Nimo Ilhan-Ali, Khadar Ahmed and Abdullahi Caddaawe, both of the Somaliland Research and Development Institute (SORADI).