Community Safety and Small Arms in Somaliland 2010


Executive Summary

Between August 2008 and August 2009, data was collected and analysed across Somaliland in order to improve understanding of community safety and small arms and light weapons in Somaliland. Data has been collected from 157 communities in 32 districts and the data set includes a total of 2846 household questionnaires and 281 focus group and key informant interviews with key players in the field of community safety, such as the police, civil society organisations, the UN and traditional and religious leaders. The publication is a joint effort by DDG and the Small Arms Survey.

The findings of the survey are presented in this report along with contextual interpretations of the results and information that may be of use to practitioners. For the purposes of this summary and because of the representativeness of the data sample, the results from the household survey have been generalised for the whole population and percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number to facilitate reading. Please note that the use of the word communities in this summary does not include any ethnic or clan connotations.

Perceptions of Safety and Security in Somaliland

- 97% of people in Somaliland consider their communities safe. 53% of people think the security situation has improved over the past year; only 2% believe the situation has deteriorated.

- As age increases, so too does peoples' sense of safety; although this may be partially explained by the most common age group for crime victims being 20-29 years old.

- Despite perceiving their communities as safe, 30% of the population fear they or a member of their household may be the victim of a violent crime.

- 51 households admitted that one of their household members had been a victim of a violent crime or encounter in the last year. Using an official population figure of 3.5 million and a UNDP average household size of 5.79, it is possible to extrapolate this figure to estimate there may have been 11,000 victims of violent crime within 12 months.

- The most serious security concern of the population is crime and street violence perpetrated by gangs or individuals, followed by accidents involving ERW, SALW and traffic, clan conflict, domestic and sexual violence and the self-harm caused by drugs, alcohol and khat.

- Urban populations are more concerned with internal state insecurity and self-harm from drugs/alcohol/khat; rural communities are more concerned about clan conflict and accidents caused by ERW/SALW/Traffic.

Disputes and Crime in Somaliland

- The population perceives disputes over compensation, criminal activity and farms as the most common types occurring. Data suggests farm disputes (29% of total incidents cited in grouped traditional leaders interviews in 130 communities) and land title disputes (28% of total incidents in the same sample) are most common in reality, with emphasis in reported incidents on resource-related disputes.

- Disputes over land titles and compensation are considered much more common by urban populations. Rural communities see disputes over farms and grazing areas as more common.

- Armed robbery, assault and homicide accounted for 41% of crimes reported in 130 communities. Rape, domestic abuse and child abuse together accounted for a further 36% of the crimes.

- No incidents of gang-related violence were reported with only 6 of 31 police stations interviewed saying their districts had a gang problem, indicating this security concern may be more of a perception rather than a reality.

Security Providers in Somaliland

- 99% of people would inform someone if they saw or experienced a crime and 98% of people would go to someone for a solution if they saw or experienced a dispute.

- 71% of people reporting a crime would go to the police, while 26% would go to traditional leaders, with the remaining 3% accounted for by religious leaders, the military, family, etc.

- To seek a solution to a dispute, 55% of people would go to the police, 39% would go to traditional leaders, with the remaining 6% accounted for by religious leaders, the military, family, etc.

- Urban communities and richer people are more likely to turn to the police than poorer people and rural populations, who prefer to use traditional leaders to deal with crime and disputes.

- Security providers were rated on a scale of 0 to 4, where 0 is 0% satisfaction and 4 is 100% satisfaction on trust, efficiency, accessibility, familiarity and transparency. Traditional leaders scored highest in all categories with an average score in percentage terms of 71% followed by police in all categories (63%) and religious leaders (48%).

- Accessibility and efficiency have a significant influence on levels of trust in security providers; improving accessibility and efficiency increases the level of trust the population has in them.

- Police are trusted by all sections of the population and are the primary security provider of choice, although lack of geographical coverage sometimes leaves other actors to fill the gap.

- Traditional leaders are seen as the first security provider after the police, particularly in the area of negotiation surrounding disputes and are sometimes left to deal with certain crimes by the police.

- Religious leaders seem to be security enablers rather than security providers. They offer educated and impartial religious council as well as arbitration services when both parties agree to them, sometimes at the direction of the police or courts, but they do not engage directly in solving crime or disputes. Their skills and competencies are complementary to those of the traditional leaders and police.