Somaliland: Hargeisa Is Booming, But What Of The Other Cities & Towns.
Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland is booming. Like a phoenix it has risen from the ashes. This once proud and picturesque city is once again growning rapidly. After the destruction of the civil war to get rid of the dictatorship in Mogadishu , Hargeisa has managed to recover during the last two decades.
Sadly, for the thousands of innocent people who had lost their lives during the air bombardment and shelling, it doesn’t matter at all.
However, for all Somalilanders both at home and abroad, to see Hargeisa and Burao return close to their former glory is a source of pride.
Having said that, whilst Hargeisa, Burao and Borama, have become the main cities in Somaliland in terms of development; Hargeisa is in danger of becoming the be all and end all of Somaliland .
To the detriment of other cities in Somaliland, Hargeisa is becoming the centre of the commercial, political, educational, economic and social centre of Somaliland .
This is a problem that plagues developing nations which leads to all kind of economical, political and social ills. The urbanization of one main city which leads to all kinds of social and environmental problems.
As the largest city in Somaliland, and its historic capital of Somaliland; although the residents of Berbera,Sheikh and Zeila would dispute that; no one is disputing that Hargeisa should be the political centre of Somaliland .
But, the other larger cities and towns should not be neglected.
Educationally, both Borama and Sheikh have always been on the forefront. And it is no co-incidence that Amoud University and the Sheikh Secondary school are two of the premier scholastic centres in Somaliland .
Therefore, both towns should be encouraged further in this field. For example, what is wrong with the Somaliland National Curriculum, and other educational bodies being based in either Borama or Sheikh?
Burao has always been the economic link between the western and eastern parts of Somaliland , with regard to agriculture, livestock, and so on. To a certain extent it’s back to its traditional role, and with a large economic presence.
In that vain, should there not be several national agencies headquartered in the city, for example the National Commerce Agency?
Efforts such as these would help to create employment, foster a truly national identity and help to assist the development of the poorer regions of the country.
But, what of Erigavo, Berbera, Las Anod and Zeila?
Despite being the gateway to Somaliland , Berbera, as a city is beginning to regain its footing. It is a tragedy that such an economic centre should have been neglected for so long. It is ironic that with all the revenue, trade and goods coming through the city, none had been spent on its redevelopment nor infrastructure.
However, on the plus this is now changing. And with the exploration of the tourism industry and hopefully, the reconstruction of the local cement factory, things will improve.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Erigavo, Las Anod or Zeila. There is no denying that these towns have become Somaliland ’s poor relations.
Would anyone argue that Zeila has not become a ghost town?
It does not have to be this way. These towns are blessed with abundant natural resources and resourceful people. With the recent improvement in the political situation in the east, things can only improve.
It is right and proper that both the previous and current governments in Somaliland continue the allocation of special funds to the eastern regions, but throwing money at the problem doesn’t necessarily lead to a solution.
It takes the active participation of individual residents to make a difference.
But, the main focus of this article is to argue against the centralization of daily economic, political, economic and social life in Hargeisa.
This is not a prudent course. Not only will it lead to marginalization, over-crowding, and other social ills, it will also greatly hinder Somaliland ’s development.
In order for Somaliland to become and remain more viable, every region in the country must play a role in the national life. The towns outside of the main cities of Hargeisa, Burao and Borama must be not be neglected.
Understandably, Somaliland faces the numerous problems that come with being a developing nation; unrecognized, impoverished, below average infrastructure, e.g., lack of roads, communication links, draught, deforestation, de-mining, and so on. But, it is imperative to see the cup as half full, instead of half empty.
The achievements of Somaliland in the last 20 years have been nothing short of remarkable; minimum funding from the international community, in contrast to the billions wasted in Somalia . It is indeed the stuff of “pulling yourself up by your shoe-laces” and Somalilanders should feel proud of that, but there is more to do.
The economic, political, commercial and social development of Somaliland ’s regions, cities, town and villages will benefit the whole nation.
Ahmed Kheyre – London
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