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Somalia's grass-roots start

The Opinion page article "Somalia's Next Step: Restoring Economy," March 25, is an interesting effort to deal with Somalia and its future. But the article deals briefly with the main issues and does not offer valid solutions to a people who have suffered through a civil war and starvation.

So how do we approach the situation and attempt to avoid a repetition of history? I suggest that the country be placed under indefinite United Nations mandate. The country should then begin to rebuild its infrastructure, which is going to take years. We should set up a council of elders, augmented by a second chamber. In coming years the representatives' tasks would be to help guide the council of elders to govern the country. The president, if there is to be a president, would be elected by this council .

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The big problem is development. The primary approach should be agricultural restoration and development. Development should involve construction of water catchment areas; water conservation, via ponds and lakes, has to be one of the top priorities.

What we will need in both the UN organization and in the development of Somalia are experienced professionals, not ones who may be nominated merely to get a contract. One of the problems with development projects imposed by agencies is that they become "our" projects and not ones for which the host country feels any obligation to, except to be on the receiving end of funds. Let us start at the grass-roots level. Guy C. Hill, San Diego, Calif.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please fax letters to (617) 450-2317 or address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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