The outbreak of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, the infection of this outbreak was first reported in December of 2019 in Wuhan – the seventh largest city of china. This contagious disease infected thousands of people of the globe. The World Health Organization (WHO) considered this outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and recognized as a pandemic on 11 March 2020. The rapid ‘globalization’ of the COVID-19 pandemic is something that the world perhaps has never encountered before. As world health organization ( WHO) and Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared the virus is transmitted by close contact and by small droplets produced during sneezing, coughing even talking. People may also be affected by this virus by touching a contaminated surface and then without washing their hand touching their face [CDC 2020). Therefore WHO recommended some preventive measures taken to suppress the spread of the pandemic which includes washing hand through water and soap often for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching the eyes, mouths or nose with unwashed hands, practicing good respiratory hygiene, staying at home, avoiding crowded place, maintaining social distance, covering one’s mouth when coughing and sneezing, self-isolated himself if someone suspected himself that he might be affected (CDC 2020).
On March 31, a Coronovirus Pandemic was the first two cases confirmed in Somaliland by the announcement of the Ministry of Health, these two people were among the three suspects who were quarantined by Ministry of Health and had their DNA sent Kenya for testing. As of this writing, the number of detected cases in Somaliland is more than 500 positive cases, 26 have died and 84 have recovered after treatment. The Somaliland government has implemented a partial lockdown. This largely affects only public offices, including schools and universities.
To stop the spread of this mammoth virus, there are lots of preventive actions taken by the government of Somaliland like regional or national quarantine, travel restriction, cancellation and postponements of events, curfews, border enclosure and screening at the airport etc. These kinds of preventive measures like lockdown the borders may extract normal flow of raw materials, products, and services, capitals, humans which resulting in business and production shutdowns at least temporarily.
The outbreak of Covid-19 is not only an ominous global health challenge but has caused gigantic negative effects on populace wellbeing, society, education, and the economy in Somaliland. Social distancing, self-isolation and travel restrictions forced a decrease in the workforce across all economic sectors and caused many jobs to be lost. Schools have closed down, and the need of commodities and manufactured products has decreased. In contrast, the need for medical supplies has significantly increased. The food supply has also seen a great demand due to the panic-buying and stockpiling of food products.
In response to this global outbreak, the aim is to deliver a comprehensive overview of the observed and the possible impacts in socio-economic effects of COVID-19 and government response in Somaliland.
The COVID-19 pandemic has formed deep disruptions to Somaliland economy and society. Many businesses are experiencing an adverse impact from the outbreak, which is same with other countries fighting the disease. In prevention and response to the crisis of this pandemic, the Somaliland government imposed the country under national lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus, caused in shutting down of many businesses.
Local decisions have affected Somaliland’s major economic sectors including in aviation, hospitality and domestic transport. Hargeisa had regular flights to/from Addis Ababa, Dubai, Nairobi and Mogadishu; all international and domestic flights are suspended except Ethiopian Airlines and those carrying essential goods across the country. Somaliland was reluctant to close its airspace but decisions taken elsewhere have effectively made such closures inevitable. The Federal Government of Somalia’s banning of both international and domestic flights has led to tensions with Somaliland over control of airspace. Ethiopian Airlines is currently the only carrier that has flights to Hargeisa but passenger numbers have significantly reduced.
Decisions made to close schools – government-run, private, and Madarasas – have a huge knock-on effect within the informal economy, as the small shops and traders – mainly women – that supplied snacks and drinks has been closed and half a million children are now shut down. Street vendors are also being evicted by the police and cleaners, working in homes and offices, have less work.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt not just on the national economy but on the household economy of local people. Its devastating impact is already unfolding in Somaliland. Daily wage earners have been badly hit; many have nothing to live on now and are unable to buy food for their families. Hunger, malnutrition, and other problems that have always plagued Somaliland are poised to intensify as a result of the lockdown.
The government has sought to enforce social distancing through the lockdown but has not been too successful in this regard so far. Several factors make this a near-impossible task in Somaliland; social distancing is anathema to Somali community and culture. Most Somali people live in close proximity to each other. Families are large and live in small and cramped cottages, with several families sharing a single tap and toilet. This is even more pronounced in the IDPs camps, where around a huge number of low-income families live in crowded and temporary shelters and do not access health facilities. Other hand, people are unable to stay at home without work for their survival, thus, they are concerned much more about their job rather than Covid-19.
Education is one of the sectors affected the most by this crisis. More than 1.5 billion students and youth across the world are affected by school and university closures due to the Covid-19 outbreak. In this present scenario, all academic activities have been stopped. Since the students are not attending classes, they are spending their time watching television, playing games, internet surfing, chatting, etc.
A day after the first COVID-19 positive cases were confirmed in Somaliland, the Ministry of Education announced that all of the country’s educational institutions would be closed for one month, in a bid to stop the spread of the disease. The order was subsequently extended. On April 18, 2020, the authorities of education advised both private and public schools and universities to take classes online to recoup the academic losses as a result of the suspension of academic activities during the Covid-19 outbreak. These initiatives were highly informative to the faculty members and the students to enhance their knowledge. The initiatives include: Online courses, Learning through YouTube channel and Digital library etc. Somaliland Television already has started some online classes for primary and secondary students.
This unaware outbreak has caused Significant impact on the continuity of education and availability of remote services for primary and secondary schools, also has impacted for children from marginalized and most vulnerable groups in the community as they will have limited or no access to the alternate modes of education promoted by the government.
Teachers of the private schools and universities in Somaliland also have fallen victim to COVID 19 outbreak more or less. All schools and universities have been declared closed since March 2020 and shall stay closed till august 2020 if the situation continues unabated. The private Schools/universities, mostly run by tuition fees, seem to have been doubly affected by the pandemic. They are anticipating huge financial losses to be incurred by nonpayment of tuition fees caused by the suspension of academic activities and uncertainty about the upcoming new semester enrolment and academic year registration. The great bulk of tertiary level students are studying at the private universities many of which may be threatened with continued existence by the financial crisis.
- Supporting the government to increase the pool of alternate education platforms made available, giving due consideration to availability and accessibility by vulnerable groups.
- Increasing awareness among students and parents about alternate platforms
available for education.
- Supporting most vulnerable groups with appropriate in-kind and cash support to ensure that they have adequate access to essential food items.
- Immediate interventions to ensure fair pricing to safeguard producers and consumers, as well securing and supporting the food value chain and market distribution system.
- For COVID-19, hand-washing is the most important practice which we should focus on and ensure hand-washing material available and affordable in market.
- Ensure the continual functionality of water facilities in rural and urban areas.
- Ensure all community clinics have access to WASH services and provide
relevant hygiene messages.
- Planning for needs of marginalized and communities in slums in meeting self-isolation and quarantine requirements that will emerge.
- Support to enterprise recovery for small businesses and micro-enterprises through providing start-up grants which may include but not limited to new skill for returnees, small grants for small business for both local and returnees.
By: Adam Duale Ali
Master of Development Studies
United International University