Shipping firms are finally joining together in efforts to combat the problem of piracy in the Indian Ocean.
Leading the charge is Japenese shipping giant Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd (MOL), who recently announced plans to collaborate with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to help the Somali economy back onto its feet. Also joining the efforts are other major international maritime interests, such as Maersk, Shell and BP, among others.
This coalition will contribute $1 million USD to the UNDP in hopes of encouraging job creation and education for the Somali people. The industry will also provide an additional $1.5 million USD to fund other various development projects in Somalia.
While international military efforts have cleaned up the waters of the Indian Ocean, it is no secret that the pirates harassing shipping vessels are only a symptom of a larger, more complex issue. To permanently stop piracy, action must be taken back on land in Somalia, so that its people are not driven to such extreme measures to support themselves.
The shipping industry began to discuss action like this in early 2012 as it became clear rebuilding Somalia is the only way to truly end piracy in this region once and for all. The UNDP will use the donated funds to provide employment opportunities in coastal areas.
Specifically, the UNDP has a project entitled “Alternative Livelihoods to Piracy in Puntland and Central Regions” which focuses on long-term, sustained growth in youth employment, Many young Somalis are driven to piracy because there are simply no other ways to earn money. The alternative professions will include jobs in agriculture, livestock and fishing. Some of the funding will also go towards creating a business development center for local entrepreneurs. The UNDP also makes sure to create community centers where youth can come for collaboration and support in their endeavors.
While maritime security efforts are certainly still needed, this bottom-up approach hopes to create a new generation of Somalis that do not even consider piracy a viable option, because they are presented with better options.