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Civil Society Organizations: Deceivers Or Achievers?
Civil society is relatively new concept in our community. It may perhaps seem a good idea to start with the basics. In part, this is because the concept had rarely been used among Somali people before the early 1990s and many people are therefore unfamiliar with the system and its organizational methods.
Civil society emerged in Somalia in the early 1990s in the wake of the collapse of central Government and the intervention by US and UN forces. The international committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was instrumental in organizing Somalia women to administer a large number of refugees in 1992. But women then took it upon themselves to organize public schools, ultimately enrolling 20,000 students. The World Food Program (WFP) and CARE International went on to fund a variety of Somali NGO’s to run small scale projects. All of this, of course, was done with out any government role.
But Somaliland’s civil society has a different origin because there were not UN forces or American military interventions here. The civil society concept evolved through different stages of Somaliland’s past and present history. But it’s during the post-liberation period that the full meaning of the concept has been realized. The political and social freedoms gained helped mould a strong civil society in Somaliland.
As Somalilanders began the arduous task of rebuilding their lives, peace and their country it was natural that social groups think of organizing themselves. One such effort resulted in the launching of the strongest and the most successful LNGO in Somaliland – HAVOYOCO. A new era of civil society organizations was born. HAVOYOCO really merit to be thanked, but they are also champions in the “deception game”.
Today and Civil Society Organizations
LNGOs were created first to help the vulnerable and then to facilitate humanitarian assistance from donors. But the majority of these organizations benefit very much from the very people who need their help. They are led by their self interest. And project proposals are the principal means through which they achieve their interest.
If you closely examine how much they contribute to their community’s needs, you’ll capture the real picture for nothing, with the exception of some toilets they build in towns and painted with their logos, or conduction of some workshops, which are their main job. I can’t refute what they have done: yes they provide some jobs for the young people. But, civil society organizations have enormous potential for economic development than they do now. And it is here where their failure becomes apparent. The government doesn’t regulate their activities: they do what they want and also claim whatever they desire.
There is also a contradiction between their objectives and performance. NGO’s are often organized to promote narrow goals, rather than the broader goals of development.
The work they mostly prefer to do
Every one in this country who has participated in a workshop that a typical LNGO held has good experience about them. They usually like to talk about Women’s Rights, (not in an Islamic way), and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), without saying anything about the garbage filling the streets of our cities.
NGO’s are familiar with the politics of the Horn, so they disrespect Somaliland stature and its existence. It is true that they are happy to call themselves Non-State Actors.
Here lies the biggest shame and weakness of LNGOs. We know how the virus spreads and what will be the consequences if we mess up.
There are several LNGOs working on HIV/AIDS issue, but the two main actors are SAHAN & SOLNAC. However, their programs lack substance to be effective against HIV/AIDS. The importance is not to talk about HIV/AIDS only but also to have a strategy to prevent its spread.
When the LNGOs organize workshops relating to HIV/AIDS they indirectly encourage sinning because they commend the use of condoms and that is not a proper way to prevent this disease from our culture and religion point of view.
What we need to do to deal with HIV/AIDS
Do we need to allow condoms and emphasize its use, or do we need to refrain from committing infidelity as our religion says? Our society is morally strong, and religious. It need not be mislead or misguided.
To contain HIV/AIDS, we have to go back to the basics. By reviving our traditions, beliefs and our perceptions about life and death while strictly avoiding extra-marital sexual practices, we can overcome HIV/AIDS.