Somalilandsun – The Addis Ababa based Horn of Regional Environmental Research Center and Network-HoA-REC&N was honoured to welcome H.E Dr. Saad Ali Shire, Somaliland Minister of Planning and Chairman of the University of Hargeisa Board and Dr. Abdi H. Gass, President of the University of Hargeisa.
The visit was an opportunity for the guests to find out more about HoA-REC&N’s work and discuss ways to work in greater partnership in the future. The University of Hargeisa is one of the founding members of the HoA-REC&N.
The guests enjoyed a tour of HoA-REC&N’s new environmentally friendly headquarters and lunch with HoA-REC&N staff on the sunlit terrace overlooking the lush Gulele Botanic Garden. Following lunch Dr. Araya Asfaw, Executive Director of HoA-REC&N, presented an overview of the socio-economic and environmental issues affecting the Horn of Africa region, but also highlighted its wealth of natural resources, rich ancestry and growing economy
The region faces many challenges. From the point of view of the environment, growing population pressure, the unsustainable use of natural resources and a relative absence of environmental governance have exacerbated environmental degradation and vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. Therefore, Dr. Araya was keen to point out that countries in the Horn should learn from previously industrialised nations and follow a sustainable development path and protect the environment. With this in mind, HoA-REC&N’s Partnership Programmes have been designed with the aim of furthering the Horn’s sustainable development objectives and addressing environmental concerns.
H.E Dr. Saad Ali Shire remarked that “in a very short period the landscape (in Somaliland) has changed a lot…we must sustain what we have and restore what we don’t”. He went on to highlight the significance of protecting the natural resources of Somaliland. “In Somaliland 60% of people live off livestock and livestock lives off the environment, so if the livestock goes then so do people’s livelihoods…The hooves of animals are our wealth.” His Excellency expressed the importance of sharing experiences because “we share the environment”.
With this in mind, the Network looks forward to assisting the University of Hargeisa in their environmental initiatives, for example in a potential waste to energy scheme similar to that currently underway at Repi landfill in Addis Ababa and in developing the Geed Deeble Forest Reserve in Somaliland, located near Hargeisa as a potential botanical garden to protect its very important ground water forest and unique biodiversity.