Despite a series of wage increases over the previous 3 years, in January 1990 salaries for the highest-grade public employees were still only SH8,000 (US$16) per month and the lowest grade received SH1,200 (US$2.40). Consequently all civil servants needed additional sources of income to meet their basic needs. In the absence of a central government, the civil service has ceased to function after 1991.
Subsequently the 75 percent of the population in the rural areas were engaged in a desperate struggle to survive. Those in the urban areas were better off, and the thugs involved in the looting and extortion that go hand-in-hand with clan fighting have enjoyed relatively high living standards, albeit accompanied by high risks.