Rebuilding Waheen Market in Hargeisa: Challenges and Opportunities
The aftermath of Somaliland’s re-assertion of independence in 1991, saw an increase in urbanization especially in Hargeisa as well as rapid expansion of markets. Despite the increase in number and sizes of markets, Waaheen remained a vital market not only for Hargeisa residents and traders, but also for people from throughout the Somali region, including Djibouti, Somalia, and the Somali region of Ethiopia. On 1st April, fire erupted in Waaheen, Somaliland's main market and one of the largest in the Horn of Africa region where hundreds of people congregate daily to trade. After more than 16 hours, the Somaliland Fire Brigade (SLFB) successfully extinguished the fire. On the 2nd of April, President Muse Bihi established the National Response and Relief Committee (NRRC) which is composed of representatives from the Hargeisa municipality, the Chamber of Commerce, and relevant ministries. The SLFB in coordination with the NRRC concluded search and rescue efforts on 4th April. The market was eventually cleared out by the Hargeisa municipality on April 11th. As part of its mandate, the NRRC conducted a post-disaster survey and made preliminary findings regarding the property and financial losses caused by the fire. In light of the destruction caused by the Hargeisa fire, the Academy for Peace and Development (APD) conducted a brief research into the causes, extent of the damage, lessons learned, and policy implications of the Waaheen Market fire. The specific objectives of this study were to; Conduct research into the challenges experienced by the local government, central government's, and NRRC in managing the fire and its aftermath. Gain an understanding of the immediate response by the various levels of the Somaliland government, the private sector, and international partners. Make policy recommendations to the Somaliland government and its foreign partners on the necessary short and long term interventions.