Somaliland reported its first case of Covid-19 in March, yet financial support from the international community and the diaspora has been largely absent. When diaspora assistance has been mobilized, it has been through less traditional mechanisms: younger, educated activists using online platforms.
Historically, Somali diaspora groups have responded to complex crises such as droughts, floods and cyclones with traditional ways of mobilisation, such as kinship-based fundraising and the Hawala system, an informal money transfer system based on trust.
Yet six months into the current pandemic, new trends have emerged. One has been the reliance on online platforms as the principal mechanism for mobilising assistance and creating awareness. These online initiatives have been spearheaded by a group of young professionals and more educated activists who have created various GoFundMe pages and online awareness-raising campaigns. For instance, within the Somaliland diaspora at least four such crowd-funding campaigns have been launched in the UK and Australia, all with the aim of purchasing mobile laboratories and other medical equipment.
At least two of these campaigns, in Australia and UK, have partnered with the AMAR charitable foundation in the UK to deliver support to Somaliland. However, other fundraisers have refused to enter into such partnerships with more established international charities, considering it an invasion of community space, and arguing that the funds raised by Somalilanders should not be appropriated by charities that already have the necessary networks and capacity to fundraise for their own projects.