British Aid Money Goes a Long Way

British Aid Money Goes a Long Way

British Aid Money Goes a Long Way in the Former British Somaliland Proctectorate

Recently there’s been a lot of discussion in the media about how £480,000 (USD $744,400) worth of British humanitarian aid supplies found their way into the wrong hands in former Italian Somalia. Earlier this month, the United Kingdom Department for International Development acknowledged that its partners in Somalia lost the supplies during raids by terrorists between November 2011 and February 2012. The popular media loves to paint the entire Horn of Africa as a land of danger and intrigue, a place where pirates rule the seas and warlords compete for desert kingdoms.

The press seems much less interested in writing about former British Somaliland Protectorate. When we get mentioned at all, we’re usually depicted as a quaint region where nomads tend to their camel herds, money-changers ply their trade on downtown street corners and men spend their afternoons chewing khat and arguing about politics. The peace, stability and total reconstruction of the country by its citizens, as well as successful recent events, such as Hargeisa’s sixth annual Book Fair or the reopening of its international airport, go largely unnoticed.

While the international community has provided millions of dollars in aid to one failed regime after another in Somalia, the people of Somaliland have learned to make do with less – a lot less. Here at Edna Adan Hospital, in the capital of Somaliland, we can show you how to get the most out of your aid Pound, Dollar or Euro.

In 2001, Edna was in the final stages of construction of her new hospital and wondering how she was going to get the equipment and supplies she needed to open the facility for patients. She received a huge boost from the British Government, who donated medical equipment to the value of £30,000 and which consisted of thirty hospital beds which are still being used today; thirty baby cots that have held over 14 thousand newborn babies; an operating table; theatre lights; and sterilizers that have been used for thousands of Caesarian sections and other operations. The impact of that gift is still being felt and appreciated today, thirteen years later.

In addition, Edna was also assisted to send key staff members to Addis Ababa to be trained at the Black Lion Hospital and the Fistula Hospital. These trainees have all returned and are now training others and keeping the operating theaters running smoothly.

As a former Colonial Development and Welfare Scholar herself, Edna has never forgotten the generosity of the British taxpayers and she is grateful for their continued support. As a teaching and referral hospital, our facility has various needs, but one that Britain and its citizens could help with is our need for long-term English instructors to help us teach our students and staff. If you have experience teaching English as a foreign language and are able to commit to a one or to a two-year term, you will find an enthusiastic group of young professionals who are eager to learn English.

For more details, please use the form on our Contact Page.

Here are photos from a recent visit to Edna Hospital by a delegation from the United Kingdom.

Dr. Eve Bruce Discusses her time at Edna Hospital

Dr. Eve Bruce Discusses her time at Edna Hospital

By Dr. Eve Bruce, February 21, 2013

I had read the statistics. We all have.

I knew about the problems and the need. What I did not know was how generous the people are with their loving kindness ~ and their laughter.

Awakening the first morning in Hargeisa at the Edna Adan Ismail Hospital to the sound of the Muezzin Call to Prayer, I peaked out the window where I sleep in the hospital. Beautiful women walking into the courtyard of the hospital greeted my jet-lagged eyes. Multicolored flowing robes and head coverings. Like a large group of colorful nuns.

This is a teaching hospital. Classes are in session every day on the second floor, and there are nursing students and midwifery students taking on most of the work on the wards. Young men and women studying, working hard, and filled with hope.

One nurse confided to me that her dream after completing her courses here is to go to Medical School and become a Pediatrician. Another had no idea how much she would like taking care of the newborns until we started the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Now she wants to specialize in Neonatal Nursing.

“Somaliland has one of the worst maternal mortality ratios in the world, estimated to be between 10,443 and 14,004 per 100,000 live births,” said Ettie Higgins, head of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) field office in Hargeisa.”The infant mortality rate is 73 per 1000 births.”

(To put things into perspective US maternal mortality is 21 per 100,000 live births with an infant mortality of 5 per 1000 births)

Nursing students

Nursing students after being up all night in the Neonatal ICU ~ and ready to go take an exam!

Although they are well versed in caring for these critical babies now, all of them were scared of premie care at first. Babies that small do not usually survive here.

What I also did not know is how much I would love the babies. And the Moms. And the Grandmothers.

It is very different practicing medicine here. You make things work with the supplies available. There are no ventilators. We make bush CPAP contraptions for the premature babies from bottled drinking water ~ this skill was passed on to me by a volunteer Midwife, Geraldine Lee, from Seattle who was so attached to the babies that she recruited me to care for them the minute I met her (she was leaving the next day).

Two incubators / four premies: we fill bottles and gloves with warm water to try to keep their temperature up the best we can. I had no idea how much work it was to do the NICU nursing until I took over myself when they were short staffed one day because the students had an exam. I’ll never take the nursing care for granted again! Especially here where everything takes longer and we do not have all the bells and whistles available in hospitals in industrialized countries.

"Tiger" in NICU

Somehow, hearing all the statistics and the push for women’s empowerment in Somaliland, I expected downtrodden women. Now I understand that it takes a tough cookie to make it here. These women (and men) are for the most part smart, beautiful – and very feisty. This in spite of the fact that a woman cannot even sign for her own procedure, but rather requires her husband’s consent.


And then there is Edna. A force of nature. When I first emailed her asking if there was anything I could do if I came as a volunteer doctor, I warned her that I am 58 years old. She laughed, if you can do that by email, and said that she was older than that when she started this hospital. And I came.

Nursing Student

Second year nursing student caring for baby in Neonatal Intensive Care.

So many stories. So many happy stories. The premies who get stronger and stronger. Their mothers. Their grandmothers. The baby boy who was transferred to us from another hospital here with seizures and aspiration pneumonia as well as no urine output and failing kidneys who eventually became well and went home with his family.

Beautiful Hassan

Beautiful Hassan who had aspiration pneumonia with poorly functioning kidneys and seizures from birth. Here he is with his beautiful and very happy mother.

My first (and only) premature baby death was completely unexpected. She was a newborn, and the baby I was least concerned about in the unit. I happened to be right there in the room when she stopped breathing, and the anesthesiologist happened to stick his head in right while I was suctioning and beginning the resuscitation. Both of us working on her could not bring her back.

Eve Bruce

I went to the next room where her mother was recovering from her Caesarian Section to tell her that her little baby girl had died. She put her arm on mine and told me not to cry. She took the time to console me. Or maybe we consoled each other. Not so much as doctor to patient, but as mother to mother. I think that was the moment that I fell in love with this country and its people.

Then there are the deliveries. The very real danger that each woman goes through each and every time she becomes pregnant. Each expectant mother knows other mothers who have died in childbirth. They all know the risks they are taking. And yet with the infant mortality as high as it is, the average woman becomes pregnant 10 times in her lifetime with the hopes that she will bring two or three children to adulthood.

Young mothers bonding with their premature babies.

Young mothers bonding with their premature babies.

The Ethiopian woman who travelled so far with her six and five year old in tow, leaving her three year old in the care of her blind mother. Coming so many miles with the desperate hope that someone might fix her broken life. Crying as she held my arm after I examined her in the operating theater, more of her story unfolding. She went into labor with her fourth child, but three days later she was still in labor and only then taken to a hospital where the dead baby was removed surgically. Immediately afterwards, the urine began to leak continually from her vaginal area and down her legs as her now seven month relationship with her vesico-vaginal fistula began. As if that wasn’t enough, she already had a deformity in her left leg and foot and after the obstructed labor she found she had a foot drop in her right “good” foot. Prior to this she could walk with a limp, but now she can not walk without great difficulty, and only while holding on to someone. Her husband left her and their three children to fend for themselves. Destitute and broken, we are her last hope.

Yes, there is great tragedy, great suffering and great need. Yes there is much work to do together for empowerment of women here, to create opportunities which engender freedom and equality. And yes, there is a unique soul to the people of Somaliland that burns brightly and warms the embers of your heart when you visit. May it burn ever more brightly, and may these bright, brave and strong women see their own little girls grow to be educated and healthy self sufficient loving mothers and grandmothers.

Dr. Eve Bruce

Eve Bruce, MD – herself a mother of four and grandmother of nine – is volunteering at Edna Adan Ismail Hospital in Hargeisa Somaliland. She is happy to report that funds have been coming in and the hospital is well on its way to being able to purchase another incubator.

Read more about the NICU

But that is just the beginning, or as Edna says “like a car without tires or petrol.”

We need oxygen concentrators and many other supplies to keep a premature or sick baby alive. Only when Maternal Mortality decreases, life wrenching complications of lack of healthcare and obstructed labor disappear, prenatal and child care becomes widely available, and infant and child mortality normalizes will there be any opportunity for higher education, freedom, equality and empowerment.

International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation

Today is International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, which is a condition suffered by approximately 140 million women worldwide.

Edna Adan has always used her hospital and her notoriety to educate the people of Somaliland to reject this practice, which has extraordinarily deep roots in the culture throughout the Horn of Africa.

On this day, Edna has provided the following statement.

As a midwife, I have been delivering babies for 50 years, many of whom were being born to women who had undergone FGM. Witnessing the FGM-associated complications that many were suffering caused me to speak out against it in public in 1976 which at that time shocked my family and my people.

37 years later, and after so many resolutions have been passed to eradicate the practice, we sadly found that 97% of our women still suffered FGM as shown in the survey carried out on 4000 women at the Edna Adan Hospital between 2002 to 2006.

We are still looking for resources to study the prevalence of FGM and hope that the next survey/audit will reveal a reduction of FGM in our women, particularly after all the campaigns that we have held over the years.


For much more detailed information about FGM as practiced in Somaliland see this link:

FGM as practiced in Somaliland

This map indicates the prevalance of Female Genital Mutilation, also known as Female Circumcision, in Africa.
FGM has no place in Islam
FGM Prevalence in Africa

And here is an article by Kate Grant, from our partner organization, The Fistula Foundation, writing about. Fistula and FGM


Somaliland: An Epic 4000 Kms Journey on Foot for Edna Hospital

Somaliland: An Epic 4000 Kms Journey on Foot for Edna Hospital

Here is an article from the Somalilandsun celebrating the arrival in Hargeisa of Christopher Stansfield, who walked from Cairo in support of Edna Hospital.

• “Yes I have indeed reached my final destination. It’s been a gruelling four months and couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome from Edna and everyone here at the hospital in Hargeisa. After seeing the hospital with my own two eyes and meeting all those involved, I can solemnly say that I do not have a single regret” – Christopher Stanfield

• “I am very touched about the fact that somebody I don’t know, never met before has made an effort and big sacrifice to go through so much hardship , to walk 4000 Kms for our hospital and to support it and my country Somaliland” – Dr Edna Aden


Christopher Stansfield

By: Yusuf M Hasan

HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – A step forward in Cairo has concluded in Hargeisa after a gruelling 4000 Kms walk through hostile terrain thence prove that “A Small Axe Can Chop A Big Tree.’

Trekking over land and sea, across the vast barren desert of north east Africa, from Port Sudan down through the Red Sea to Djibouti, across the immense Djibouti terrain descending into the rugged mass of Somaliland, continuing on to his final destination Edna Adan’s Maternity hospital Christopher Stansfield has completed the first phase of his quest “To raise funds for Edna Hospital and awareness about Somaliland.”

This epic journey that was started on September 8th, by Brit Christopher along with U.S. film maker Dave Adams saw the Brit under take the rest of the trek alone after only four weeks after his compatriot was denied entry into Sudan due to political differences between that country and the USA.

This was revealed to the Hornnewspaper by Mr Stansfield during an interview at the Edna Aden hospital where he is ensconced and under the personal care of Dr Edna Aden whose amazement with the sacrifices of the young man are had to hide.

Christopher Stansfield

As narrated by Mr. Christopher Stansfield his epic journey of 4000 Kms through one of the worlds most difficult terrain had a single major objective “to highlight the health of the people of Somaliland, and raise £100,000 to go towards helping the Edna hospital to continue to flourish.”

The idea for the epic journey came after I undertook a fundraiser in Spain for the Edna Hospital and having found that people were not only unaware of the hospital but Somaliland as well I decided to do something that shall reverse this lack of awareness.

On the 9th of September 2012 Christopher and David Adams and camel FALCOR given the Brit by an Egyptian friend started their journey of mercy in Cairo upper part of the pharaoh country to Aswan the lower part in a period of five weeks at 30 Kms a day, from Upper Egypt in Cairo to Lower Egypt in Aswan in five weeks at 30 Kms a day.

Christopher Stansfield

Unknowing the young Briton was to complete the rest of the journey solo following the refusal of Sudanese authorities to Allow both David and Falcor entry into the country, Falcor was denied entry because the law in Sudan does not allow animals to be brought in while David had to turn back because his country, the USA, was at loggerheads with Sudan for one reason or another.

Devoid of the services of Camel Falcor, the egyptian friend came to the rescue of the now bewildered Stanfield who was availed a cupboard like carrier with four wheels that he used as a replacement for Falcor carrier of his luggage.

Pulling his four wheeled carrier the Brit left Warihafa for Khartoum travelling at between 40 to 50 Kms a day From Khartoum headed east as far as Galabat and then south to the Ethiopian border then eastwards crossing mountains into Gamba then south to Adisamon then East again to Waldiya which is 14,000 feet above sea level thus descent from the mountains to the desert all the way to Milie, then north to Djibouti via Galafi.

After the first day’s 45 Kms trek in Djibouti he was arrested by local police who failed to understand what a Caucasian was doing walking and solo in their country. They took him to Obok town where he was detained for one day and a night then transferred to the capital city where spent another day in police custody on accusations of either being a terrorist, spy or a person intent on causing mischief to the tiny Horn Africa country.
Christopher Stansfield
After recording a statement he was released “ON CONDITION THAT I present myself at the police station the following morning but fortunately the entire issue ceased like that I was let free” Said Stansfield.

Having won his freedom of movement his plans of traversing the desert as usual ‘On Foot’ were curtailed by non existent roads thus a 4X4 vehicle that took him all the way from Djibouti to about 15ks out of Hargeisa where he completed the final leg of the 4000 epic journey in style and in company of the illustrious Dr Edna Aden founder of the hospital of his quest.

Apart from a few items like clothes and tent that were provided by sponsors and other well wishers The youthful Brit who is now a hero in the yet to be recognized country funded the epic journey solely from his own savings.

Explaining on the purpose of the gruelling journey that lady Edna has termed as a momentous sacrifice Mr. Stansfield informed that his motivation was derived from a desire to do something bigger and grander and daring than the Spain fundraiser thus make people aware of the existence and good work of the Edna Aden hospital let many people around the world through walking which would achieve purpose of raising awareness and through this contribute towards realizing hospital objectives as well as get better and keep improving.

“I Also wanted to show that it is possible to do anything which though at first looks impossible is possible if you have a strong heart, strong mind everything is possible” said Christopher


Christopher Stansfield with Edna

Said Stansfield “Since learning about SL and found out about it I have wanted to come here, I was inspired by the fact that after a short time the country has changed from a war torn to where it is now peaceful secure and developing fast and not through support by any nation but through sheer resilience of its people.

I thought it was more important to support a successful story, a successful country than to be supporting countries where there exists disharmony thus my feeling that supporting Somaliland would make disjointed countries take note of Somaliland and aspire to emulate it.”

Family Reaction

Quote’ Telling my family about my trek was the easy part since they had already learned of my decision from a story written by a local newspaper in my hometown in England. My family and friends were angry and fearful for me since they did not know about Somaliland but only about Somalia,
But after careful explanation about Somaliland and my mission they begun to not only understand my mission but became appreciative.
On leaving four months ago they were still scared but supportive and on calling them upon arrival in Hargeisa they were very relieved and their fear has turned to pride.


A visibly moved Dr Edna had this to say of the brave young Briton.

“I am very very touched about the fact that somebody I don’t know never met before has made an effort and big sacrifice to go through so much hardship , to walk 4000 Kms for our hospital and to support it and my country Somaliland, is something I feel very touched about and very grateful
I find this a great personal sacrifice to put his life in danger, to walk such distances, without benefit to himself but carry out a mission he had promised himself he would do and I wish him all the best, he is a young man, a very brave young man whom I hope that whatever he achieves big or small, to me, to see him now is a great gesture.

“What will come out of his journey, what will come out of his future support only god knows, but I’m already satisfied to see that someone has morally supported our hospital our people and our country.

“I wish to thank him and his family for having thought of us and I hope that we will be worthy of his ambition, that we would not have wasted his energy and efforts, and as a Somalilander I say thank you Cristopher Stansfield.”

Christopher Stansfield

This extraordinary adventure that took approximately 4 months covering over 3000 miles across some of the world’s most harsh and politically challenging terrain is to be made into a documentary aiming to show the diverse nature of each country, incorporating the lives and culture of the people, highlighting the impact their health care systems have on them. It will also encapsulate every emotion, every triumph and every difficulty encountered in their rawest forms. The expedition will have an underlying theme to provide an inspirational distraction from our modern lives and ultimately show that despite our world’s current problems, there is still so much hope to be had.

And just like Edna’s hospital is an inspiring white light in Somaliland, this expedition is an inspiration to many round the globe… ‘ A small axe can chop a big tree’

For more, please look at Christopher’s Travel Blog:

Click for Christopher’s Travel Blog


Somaliland Should be Recognized

Somaliland is holding an election on Wednesday. The country has won international praise for past elections, deemed “Free and Fair,” and the many international election observers here this time have been well pleased.

What Somaliland lacks is international recognition.

Here is a real nice summary of the situation written by a young University of Maryland student, John Ford.

When people think of Somalia, they think of Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down. They think of South Park’s “Somalian Pirates We” episode. They even think of (sigh) Pirates of the Caribbean. What they don’t usually know is that Somalia has three extremely different regions, and that one of those regions is a fully functional unrecognized state.

The first region, Somalia, is the southern half of the former Italian Somaliland colony. This is the area most people think of, with Mogadishu and Islamic warlords and perpetually failing transitional governments (we’ll see about the new government formed in August 2012 in a few years). The tip of the country, to the north of the old Italian colony, is Puntland. Puntland is autonomous, governing itself with a central government, but it is not seeking independence.

The third section is Somaliland, the former British colony part of Somalia. It is a fully functioning state in all but name. They have an innovative legislature, a successful democratic system, an army and navy, and a presidency that has gone through several peacefully transfers of power. Sure, it is poor, but it conducts itself better than most states at its level of development. Its current development is actually being held up by the lack of recognition, as it cannot gain access to international loans or support for its currency.
Somaliland Map
Somaliland fits the definition of a state: it is a politically unified group of people that share a territory. Plus, it handles its own national defense – dealing with pirates and disarming militant tribal groups – effectively. It provides for public goods, and enables the private sector to do so when it cannot afford to. It has a strong shared history and common identity; they were a separate colony from the rest of Somalia, they were once before their own independent recognized country for a week in 1960, and they fought together against the dictator Siad Barre through the 1970s and 80s. Finally, it acts like a state on the world stage, with a foreign minister and multiple foreign delegations that have traveled to the U.S., Ethiopia, the UK, and elsewhere seeking recognition.

So why isn’t this nation recognized by any government or intergovernmental organization in the world? Mostly, they are all holding off for the regional IGO, the African Union (AU) to recognize them first. There are two reasons that the AU cites for not recognizing Somaliland: that it goes against the tradition of respecting original borders, and that it will encourage other unrecognized nations to try to attain statehood.

First, not recognizing Somaliland goes against the tradition of respecting original borders. OK, I should explain a bit. No African state wants anyone to reexamine their old colonial borders, even though those borders are often arbitrary and cut through traditional ethnic lines. Why not? Because their colonial borders are overreaching, and if the borders are reexamined, the current states will lose more territory to new countries than they would gain. However, Somaliland and the rest of Somalia were separate colonies. They were even separate countries for a brief time before voluntarily uniting. When the united country concentrated all power in the south, then was taken over by a dictator, Somaliland decided they wanted out of that union. They then had to fight a war to get out, which they won. Now the international community won’t recognize that independence.

As to the other point – that it will encourage other unrecognized nations to try to attain statehood – Somaliland’s situation is a unique one. As explained above, their history and the completeness of their national institutions make their case a hard one to duplicate. Even then, what about when Eritrea and South Sudan gained independence? Besides, this is a classic slippery slope argument; they’re the ones with the power to decide exactly which states are recognized, so even if it is a slippery slope, they’ve got pretty solid climbing spikes to stop the slide.

This is not to say there is no reason we should be cautious in supporting recognition. Vast cash flows will flow through the country as aid and loans pour in after recognition. Many theorize that this will strain the democracy and create incentive for factions to seize power in the government. I believe they can take it, however. They have surprised the West before with their tenacity. The Somaliland people have gone through extremely close elections, reluctant lame ducks, tribal divisions, armed militants, and piracy over the last 20 years without losing touch of their democracy. Let’s not doom them to failure before we give them a chance.

If I can suggest something to you, the American people, it is to pay attention to what is happening in Somalia. It is a complicated and fascinating area, and it deserves attention. Oh, and part of it happens to be a huge Al-Qaeda stronghold (ah, so now you pay attention).

Here is the Original Article


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