As we noted here, some within the US Congress are pushing for the US Agency for International Development budget allocation to Somalia to be increased. A February visit to the region by USAID’s top official, highlights this new emphasis. Although, it is likely that USAID will experience some significant budget cuts in the coming year due to austerity measures and a general distaste for foreign assistance in difficult economic times in the U.S., the pain will not be felt equally by all USAID projects. Under President Obama’s proposed 2014 fiscal year budget, Iraq will experience the largest reduction in USAID funding down 91 percent to $22.5 million. The flip side of that coin are countries like Myanmar, with a 62 percent increase to $75 million.
Importantly, USAID’s Somalia projects will double in size to close to $50 million. This is a significant sum of money to allocate to a country with limited structural and institutional capacity. As noted in a summary of the administration’s proposed foreign affairs budget:
Somalia ($49.4 million): The end of the political transition in 2012 and the formal recognition of the Government of Somalia in January 2013 represent the beginning of a new political phase. The FY 2014 request will assist Somalis in reestablishing viable governance institutions, which are essential to alleviating humanitarian suffering in the broader Horn of Africa. Increased resources will focus on stabilization and reconciliation efforts; nascent political party development; civil society efforts to promote peace, good governance, and consensus-building; and programs in education, livelihoods, and economic growth.
In addition to this sum, is the administration’s proposed contribution to the UN Peacekeeping operation in Somalia:
The FY 2014 request also includes $136.6 million for Support Office for the African Union Mission in Somalia (UNSOA). UNSOA will continue to provide a logistical support package for the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for up to a maximum of 17,731 uniformed personnel including the reimbursement of contingent-owned equipment including force enablers and multipliers. The logistics package provides equipment and support services similar to that provided for a United Nations 48 peacekeeping operation. UNSOA is working very closely with the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) and AMISOM to help create the necessary political and security conditions in Somalia, working in concert with the international community and other UN bodies.
It is not entirely clear, but there may be an additional line of expenditures for contributions to AMISOM:
Somalia ($70 million): FY 2014 funds will be used to continue voluntary support to AMISOM, including training and advisory services, equipment, and transportation of forces from current and new troop-contributing countries. Given the newly recognized government of Somalia and the security gains and expansion made by AMISOM, increased support to the national Somali military forces is critically important. Accordingly, PKO funds will be used to professionalize and provide operational support to Somali security forces, to ensure their capability in contributing to national peace and security in support of the international peace process efforts, and as part of a multi-sector approach to post-conflict security sector reform. Funds to pay the United States’ portion of the UN assessment for support of the UN Support Office for the AMISOM (UNSOA) are being requested in the Contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities account.
Evidently, the U.S. government sees promise in the recent governmental reforms in Somalia and hopes to support reform efforts with significant contributions. Peacekeeping funds are intended to foreclose any gains by the terrorist group al Shabaab. However, the USAID designated funds are to be focused more on job-creation and improving the economy. These are the efforts most important to preventing the spread of piracy at its roots, before young, unemployed Somalis can be tempted to seek their fortunes at sea. Although the proposed budget must be approved by Congress, and there will likely be significant modifications in the coming months, I would venture that the proposed expenditures in Somalia will remain largely intact.