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New Survey of Impoverished Somalia Seen as Guidepost for Development - 2004-01-14


A report by the World Bank and the United Nations says just six out of every thousand Somalis have a stereo system, and 93 percent of Somali women have never been to the movies or watched a video. The findings are contained in the first comprehensive development survey in Somalia in more than two decades.

The survey published Wednesday contains an array of statistics on everything from demographics to employment to entertainment in Somalia in 2002.

The World Bank's Country Director for Somalia, Kenya and Eritrea, Makhtar Diop, says Somalia's civil war made it very difficult to get this information until now.

"One of the many casualties of the collapse of the state in Somalia has been the destruction of the institutions and the fact that data are missing in the country," said Mr. Diop. "We have been facing a large gap in terms of data collection and in terms of consistencies."

The survey provides a unique window on the lives of Somalis. It says more than 95 percent of Somalis have never been to a concert. Almost 88 percent of men and 95 percent of women have never played sports.

But Somali men are pretty big radio listeners, with 55 percent listening to the radio regularly. Forty-one percent of Somali women regularly listen, but almost 46 percent of women never tune in.

To get around, 44 percent of Somalis travel by motor vehicle, while 30 percent walk. The others say they travel by donkey or camel.

According to the survey, only four per cent of deaths in Somalia in 2002 were directly attributable to the civil war. The survey indicates that more than 60 percent of the Somalis who died that year died of illnesses, and almost 20 percent died of old age.

As might be expected, Somalis do not have many material possessions. Only four people out of a thousand own a television set, and about one person out of every thousand has a refrigerator. Only 13 percent of Somalis even own a flashlight.

The Country Director for the United Nations Development Program in Somalia, Elballa Hagona, says the statistics will guide organizations that work in Somalia.

"The report will be of practical use to all of us organizations of the U.N. system and others in developing our programs," he explained. "The report has also attempted to help us understand some of the modern indicators relating to modes of communication, HIV awareness, the changing role of Somali women, and perception of security."

Mr. Hagona says more statistical surveys for Somali will be produced in the future.