The Academy for Peace and Development has released a policy paper titled “Rebuilding Waheen Market in Hargeisa: Challenges and Opportunities.”
This follows the disastrous fire that engulfed the Waaheen, the main Hargeisa market, leaving thousands of people, especially SME operators dispute plus a resultant loss of goods whose worth is estimated to be around $2b.
The APD is a think tank based in Hargeisa Somaliland that serves as a non-partisan platform for peaceful political dialogue and democratic governance. More HERE
In its introduction to the policy paper Briefs the Academy notes:
Quote: On a calm Friday evening on April 2nd, a massive fire broke out at Somaliland’s largest outdoor market, possibly one of the biggest in the Horn of Africa. The fierce fire was brought under control in the early hours of Saturday with assistance from the Egal International Airport’s fire department, Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State, and other Somaliland districts.
Although speculations indicate that the fire was caused by an electric fault, the actual cause is yet to be established and investigations are still ongoing.
According to the SLFB, this was the worst fire to strike Somaliland since the late 1980s Hargeisa Bombardment.
Within hours of the fire, Somaliland’s international partners and friends, including the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson; Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed;
the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary and Minister for African Affairs and the United States Senate and House Foreign Relations Committee expressed their sympathies with the Somaliland government over the fire. In solidarity with the country and the victims, international news organizations such as the Washington Post, DW, the Guardian, ITV, Al-Jazeera, and the BBC published articles, ran programmes, and shared images of the incident.
Preliminary estimates by the NRRC indicate that the Waaheen business communities lost around 2000 stores and stalls. According to the UN Inter-Agency Technical Mission, the Somaliland government (both central and local) owned 364 buildings, whereas, further 420 buildings were owned by private businesses. On the other hand, the Hargeisa municipality claims that they own 516 buildings at Waaheen. It is important to note that APD cannot verify the numbers provided above.
In regard to casualties, 28 people, mostly with minor injuries, were rushed to the hospital where they were treated and released within a few hours. Moreover, the NRRC has confirmed that no fatalities were reported as a result of the fire. Nonetheless, the fire caused huge financial damage.
The NRRC estimated that the property and financial losses ranged between 1.5 billion and 2 billion USD. As more information was gathered throughout the first week of April, the Office of the President estimates that around 5000 enterprises need immediate humanitarian and
livelihood assistance as a result of the fire, while the Somaliland Chamber of Commerce, estimates that the damage caused by the fire accounts for up to 40 percent of the Hargeisa’s economy (UNSOM, 2022).
The Hargeisa municipality revealed that it significantly depended on the market’s small vendors, who accounted for approximately 40% of the municipality’s total revenue collection.
However, it is critical to highlight that APD cannot verify the figures presented by officials, since the Somaliland government (central and local) is still in the early phases of assessing the true extent of the fire’s devastation to property, the economy, and the community’s social life. On 6th April, the President’s Office issued an international appeal of “High emergency scale.”
The appeal indicated that urgent support would be provided to “the most vulnerable members of the impacted community, as well as food assistance and assistance with rehabilitating damaged buildings.” The proposed strategy calls for the development of six temporary marketplaces for Waaheen victims.
The government stated in the appeal letter that it would present an “integrated plan” to reconstruct the market in phases. However, the idea had not been made public at the time
Read the full policy paper Briefs below