Memories of civil war still haunt Somaliland youth

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Memories of civil war still haunt Somaliland youth

The youth of the self-declared republic of Somaliland are still haunted by memories of the civil war in Somalia, the country they seceded from. A survey conducted in June 2011 by Synovate, in four districts (G-Ubaax, A-Dhagax, M-Haybe and Koodbuur), found that peace, freedom and the struggle for independence define the values, fears and aspirations of young people aged 15-35 years.

Young people in this age group worldwide spend their days worrying about peer pressure, dating, and school. However, the youth in Somaliland fear a return to civil war; similar to what has wracked Somalia for two decades. The collapse of the Siad Barre regime which triggered the hostilities happened in 1991 when the respondents in the Synovate survey were aged 5-15 years old. This is a crucial period in the development of children. War has a tremendous impact on their personality and social development, their attitudes towards society, their relationships with others and their outlook on life in general.

Not surprisingly, female youth are more worried by the prospect of civil war (24 per cent), compared to their male counterparts (17 per cent). Women and girls have always suffered disproportionately during and after wars. Mothers and their young children are the first to experience the pain and humiliation of hunger and homelessness in the midst of civil war and the emotional and physical pain that accompanies the brutality. There is a common saying that men wage war, but women and children suffer the consequences.

Unemployment is the second greatest fear of youth in Somaliland at 19 per cent with more male youth (23 per cent) citing it compared to 15 per cent of the female youth. HIV/Aids and lack of education are feared by nine per cent of respondents each while five per cent said their greatest fear is Al Shabaab. A total of 739 youth were included in the survey with female respondents making up 55 per cent of the sample.

Education and health are the two most important things in their young lives. While 27 per cent said they value education, only three per cent aspire to be educators. This finding is similar to surveys that have been carried out in Kenya where youth want a good education but few are interested in a teaching career. Religious faith is most valued by eight per cent, a similar proportion cited having a home as the thing they value most and five per cent said they valued having a partner of the opposite sex above all else. Employment was cited by four per cent.

Fifteen per cent of youth in Somaliland want to be professionals when they grow up while eight per cent want to go into business. Twenty-seven per cent of female respondents said being a mother is their aspiration in life.

About the survey:

The target population for this survey were Somaliland youth living in Hargeisa aged 15 and 35 years. The total sample was 739 respondents comprising 333 males and 406 females. Data was collected using face-to-face interviews. This sample size is large enough to make reliable estimates on the target population opinion in urban areas. The fieldwork for this survey was conducted between June/July 2011.

This study was conducted through a joint collaboration between Synovate and DARS (Data and Research Solutions) under the EDC’s Somali Youth Livelihoods Program (SYLP) also known as “Shaqodoon. This is a program funded by USAID, aiming to provide Somali youth with a greater opportunity to access work, training, internship and self-employment prospects. Shaqodoon, Somali for “Jobseekers” prepares and links the Somali youth. Education Development Center (EDC) commissioned the Synovate and DARS to build the capacity building of youth in Somalia and equip them with market research skills. This study was conducted by the researchers who were trained by under the programme.

DARS is a research and consulting company operating in Somalia. DARS was formed in 2010 and has branches in Hargeisa, Mogadishu and has a coordinating office in Nairobi.

For further details on this study please contact:

Synovate Kenya


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