Hope to the Horn of Africa| 5mins
Director: UNDP | Producer: UNDP
Focus Years: 2011 | Country: United States
Thousands line up to register in refugee camps in the Horn of Africa...
This is the epicenter of the world's most critical humanitarian crisis. Drought and hunger have driven millions from their homes. 250,000 people are still at risk of starvation. At this camp is in southern Somalia, women receive their weekly supply of charcoal so they can cook. Water is scarce in an area that has been ravaged by war for the past twenty years. Somalia's current government is receiving support from the international aid community to respond to the crisis, but the challenges are grave. Much of the southern part of the country is controlled by the militant group Al Shabaab, which recently banned some international relief agencies from working in the areas they control.
This means getting food and essential supplies to people living in these regions is increasingly difficult, and the gains that have been made in recent months to bring some areas out of famine could easily be undone.
Adding to the danger is the issue of piracy. The threat of hijack is real for any vessel passing near the country's coastline, and the lure of ransom and loot often proves too strong a temptation to resist. "The problem we have right now is the high peak of pirates and youth turning to pirates or maybe the Al Shabaab. So the only way that we can recruit those youth is create something that they feel is better,'' said Mohamed Abdulahi Moalim, president of Adado.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is working with the local government and partners in Adado to give the region's youth alternative options to piracy and militancy. This includes providing temporary jobs building schools, hospitals, and other vital infrastructure for the town's approximately 45,000 residents. "I do consider that I am lucky. I am better than those who joined the Al Shabaab and those who joined the pirates,'' Jamal Ahmed, a worker in the UNDP cash for program said. In this part of the country, signs of Somalia's war-torn past are easy to spot. But it's the sights and sounds of developmentâ€”which often takes years to show resultsâ€”that bring a glimmer of hope to towns like Adado.
UNDP is also investing heavily in vocational training for Somalia's youth. Here, in this class they're being trained as plumbers and electricians: "Those with answers raise your hands. I will repeat the question, what if this educational opportunity was not available, is it possible then that young people could turn to chewing khat (a narcotic) and joining pirates?" a teacher in the training asks his students. "Yes, yes," the students answer.
A few hundred kilometers away in northern Somalia, the situation is relatively better. Drought and famine haven't ravaged this part of the country. Democratic institutions and infrastructure, such as roads and ports, work more efficiently. The markets are busy. Trade appears to be thriving. But even here, tales of piracy still lure youth into a career of crime. A short distance from the jail, we meet a 27-year-old former pirate. He says he is happy he got out of piracy but knows why people join. "A person becomes a pirate when his future is bleak," he said. Back in the central Somali town of Adado, that's precisely the motto of painter Jamal Ahmed, who's just about finished painting this building, which will soon open as a maternal and child health clinic for the community. After a long day at work, he changes into fresh clothes and heads home to his wife and infant son.