Dr. Leslie Housden, an officer to the Ministry of Health and an honorary medical officer for Save the Children, visited Somaliland in 1950 in order to investigate the condition of the “homeless boys.” He was less sanguine about the whole problem. He argued that the number of juveniles, juvenile crime, and the extent of poverty in the towns, are exaggerated. He found very few poor juveniles and argued that the number of crimes juveniles committed were few. In 1950, he stated, there were “only 47 (juvenile) convicts in the main prison at the Mandera prison,” and of the 47 only 13 are in reality juveniles. He made three recommendations: (a) sending back juveniles to their homes in the rural areas, (b) finding work for those who had no family in the interior, and (c) establishing an approved school for abandoned children.179 The first recommendation was accepted but considered impractical. The second was rejected out of hand because it would pose the “danger of making the towns an even more attractive lure than it is at present.”180 The third was accepted, and in January 1951 funding was approved for building such a school that would teach juveniles “useful trades such as housebuilding, mat-weaving and food production on a small scale.”181 The school was officially opened in 1951 in Hargeysa. It was managed by the Save the Children but supervised by the director of the department of public health. The curriculum of the school stressed practical education: carpentry, brick-laying, basket-weaving, tailoring, and gardening. The children were also given literacy lessons in English. The disciplining and training of the juveniles, however, was not restricted to the approved school. A juvenile wing was also opened at the Mandera Central Prison, where convicted juveniles and vagabonds were given special education in literacy and practical education. Two teachers were appointed to the prison to supervise their education as well as to instruct older prisoners.182 In 1955, however, the approved school was closed “on the grounds that the statistical figures did not reveal any real need for a separate institution.”183 Juveniles were thereafter disciplined in the juvenile wing of the central prison, where they were “given two hours schooling daily and are required to work in the fields.”184

Meanwhile, an attempt was made to control prostitution through the 1948 ordinance, which gave medical authorities the legal power to detain and segregate prostitutes.185 But the enforcement of the ordinance ran into two difficult problems, particularly in Hargeysa, where the largest number of prostitutes resided. First, the public health department lacked the proper institutions to detain and rehabilitate prostitutes. The only disciplinary institution in the protectorate capable of performing such a task was the prison for women at Berbera, but it lacked the staff and the space to rehabilitate prostitutes. Second, prostitutes lived in the hut sections of the main towns, which were not planned, and where it was “difficult for the police to maintain law and order.”186 Governor G. T. Fisher ordered in 1948 the removal and reorganization “in lines” of the hut section in Hargeysa187 in order to extend proper policing and public health services and to control and rehabilitate prostitutes. At first the police sought the cooperation of the residents of the area. As their cooperation was not forthcoming, the police decided to use force to remove the huts. The police, however, “met with fierce opposition from women and children who stoned the Police while their menfolk remained conveniently in the background.”188 Some of the police were injured in the riot, and in order “to extricate themselves . . . fired into the air. One person was hurt but nobody was killed.”189 The administration contemplated using more force to press the issue but refrained due to a fear of yet another rioting. In the end, economic forces, rather than the police force, pushed the hut section out from the center of the town. As the price of land rose in the 1940s and 1950s, there was a feverish land grabbing in Hargeysa, which pushed out the poor further and further away from the center of the town. The public health department directly controlled the new areas they set up their huts. By 1958, Hargeysa was completely reorganized “in lines,” even though the matter was not completely settled, since “unfortunately the drift to the towns continued and an ever-expanding ring of hafas (hut section) formed suburbs to all the main towns.”190

Public health programs were biased towards the towns, as this paper makes very clear, and as other scholars observed for the rest of colonial Africa.191 But the rural areas were not completely ignored. For instance, there were extensive malaria control programs in 1951, 1957, and 1958. During the 1951 malaria epidemic, the medical department treated water-wells and natural reservoirs and distributed 1,754,000 tablets of quinine bi-sulphate.192 In 1957, moreover, the public health department treated 310 buildings and 2,763 mat-huts against malaria in the Haud.193 The public health department also organized an extensive treatment campaign against malaria in 1958 in the Haud, where 310 buildings and 3,763 mat-huts were treated with D.D.T..194 In the same year, the medical staff organized, with the help of three officers from the World Health Organisation, a survey of the breeding areas of the vector of malaria in the Haud, and the mountain range. Even though the people were reluctant to cooperate fully with the survey team and show them all their wells and watering places in the mountain escarpment, nonetheless the team was able to map the majority of Anopheles breeding places in the mountain escarpment. In the Haud, the survey team met with no resistance, and so was able to map the anopheles breeding areas in the rainy season. The medical staff then regularly treated the water tanks and homes in the Haud against malaria up to the end of the colonial period, and also waged a campaign of public health education in the area.195


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