Oil Majors, Shipping Companies Donate Funds to Help Fight Somali Piracy From Shore

Mike Schuler
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September 25, 2014

The Joint Shipping Initiative funded UNDP “Alternative Livelihoods to Piracy in Puntland and Central Regions of Somalia” programme has trained over 500 Somalian youths in a range of skills to equip them for a life other than piracy. Photo (c) Royal Dutch Shell

The Shell-initiated “Joint Shipping Initiative” has announced the donation of $1.5 million in funds to a United Nations Development Program aimed at fighting Somali piracy by tackling the root of the problem onshore in Somalia.

The UNDP’s “Alternative Livelihoods to Piracy in Puntland and Central Regions of Somalia” project aims to reduce piracy off the coast of east Africa through local economic development, job creation, training, and business development grants in one of the world’s poorest countries.

The Joint Shipping Initiative is made up of up of Shell, BP, Maersk, Stena and Japanese shipping companies NYK, MOL and “K” Line.

“Development projects that provide an alternative livelihood to would-be pirates are a vital element of the long-term solution to piracy,” Dr. Grahaeme Henderson, Vice President of Shell Shipping & Maritime, said. “We have been very encouraged by progress so far and look forward to positive results from this new phase of work.”

A lack of jobs and legitimate opportunities for young people has over the years helped Somali pirate leaders attract recruits to launch on merchant shipping that cost the international community billions of dollars a year. By offering alternative livelihood options to these youth, UNDP and the Joint Shipping Initiative work to prevent the lure of piracy.

“Somalia has one of the world’s highest rates of youth unemployment. Nearly 67% of young people are unemployed. To reverse this reality, we work with local authorities and community groups to identify sustainable solutions – such as infrastructure projects, livelihoods trainings, or reintegration projects – and tailor our support to match the need,” stated UNDP Somalia Country Director George Conway.

The Joint Shipping Initiative was initiated by Shell in 2013 and its first donation of $1 million helped expand the market building in the small Somali town of Adado. Shell says the donation helped create hundreds of jobs for retailers and better sales options for farmers, as well as helped improve vital infrastructure, including building a road to link the isolated Hafun peninsula with the rest of the country. The road also helps expand opportunities for trade and business, increasing access to communities in the Hafun peninsula.

In addition, training courses in skills such as computing, plumbing, building and clothes-making have been set up elsewhere to help young Somalis find work, or set up businesses themselves with the help of small grants.

Today’s additional funding is in line with the Joint Shipping Initiative’s 2012 pledge to donate a total of $2.5 million to UNDP’s development efforts in Somalia, which will allow UNDP to start work in the towns of Alula and Bargal, near the tip of the Horn of Africa, and Balanbal in central Somalia.

“Piracy is a global problem that takes root in limited economic opportunities, high youth unemployment rates and poor infrastructure,” Jens Munch Lund-Nielsen, Head of Emerging Markets Projects in Group Sustainability, Maersk, said. “The problem requires a land-based solution.”

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