After nearly 20 years without a functioning government, residents of Mogadishu, the devastated capital of Somalia, report widespread deprivation in a highly unusual poll there.
The survey, advanced exclusively to ABC News, finds that nearly two-thirds of respondents say they’re unable to meet basic needs without charity, half lack food and clean drinking water on at least a weekly basis, half are displaced from their homes and as many say they regularly witness killings or injuries because of fighting between armed forces.
Just yesterday The Associated Press reported the discovery of five headless bodies in Mogadishu, with the killings attributed by some residents to the al Qaeda-linked rebel group al Shabab.
The survey was conducted by the British research firm Opinion Research Business, its third opinion poll in Mogadishu (the first were for private clients). ORB said field work was conducted by an unidentified independent social welfare agency whose staff it trained.
In-person interviews were conducted only in Mogadishu and in a section of a nearby area, the Afgoye corridor, where some displaced city dwellers have resettled. ORB described its results as representative of residents of the city, with random-sampling techniques employed, but also noted that the challenges of surveying in Somalia put serious constraints on that claim. In addition to an absence of reliable population data for sampling purposes, ORB reported that interviewers were unable to enter one district of Mogadishu controlled by al Shabab, and had limited access to Afgoye.
Even as a rough gauge, the results mark the city’s difficulties. Just 13 percent of men said they hold formal full-time employment, while 55 percent are unemployed – and two-thirds of them have been jobless for at least two years. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they can’t meet their household’s basic needs without charitable assistance. Beyond the lack of food and clean water and prevalence of violence, a third said they lack adequate shelter. Asked their greatest need, 44 percent cited jobs, 35 percent security, both far outstripping other mentions.
Sixty-two percent said things in their country are going in the wrong direction; just 32 percent said things have improved in their lives in the past year, and 53 percent said their security, in particular, has worsened.
Done in February among nearly 1,000 respondents, the survey found broadly positive ratings of the efforts of the United Nations and (somewhat less so) the African Union in Somalia, likewise for the nominally ruling political group, the Transitional Federal Government; and much lower ratings – 16 percent positive – for “the opposition.” Respondents by 7-1 said they expected the TFG to prevail.
And even in Mogadishu, hope apparently springs eternal: Two-thirds said they think their situation will improve in the year ahead.