Lighting up Galkayo
Galkayo is Mudug region’s capital, strategically located in central Somalia. Characterized by a semi-arid landscape, the region offers suitable climatic and geographical conditions for livestock and is populated largely by pastoralists. Goats, camels and sheep graze on dry, brown grass as herders sip tea and take shade from the piping hot sticky heat.
The city’s location gives the town importance on numerous socio-economic matters in Somalia. A lively trading city, Galkayo on the main trade routes between southern and northern Somalia as well as to the Somali region of Ethiopia. Moreover, Galkayo is a hub of calligraphic art, serving as a training ground for local visual artists.
On 11th November 2014, an inauguration ceremony was held to mark the completion of the solar street lighting installation by the NIS Foundation, in partnership with the Stability Fund. This celebrated the illumination of 50 solar street lights installed at key locations near or around the infamous ‘green line’.
This mythical line that divides the city was a product of a peace deal signed in the mid-90s after fierce fighting between the two main inhabiting groups; Puntland now governs North Galkayo whereas South Galkayo is under the Galmudug administration.
The handover ceremony was organized with the intention of bringing the divided communities together, marking the completion of a mutually beneficial project. In attendance were the Mayors of North and South Galkayo, members of the city council, elders and business communities, women’s groups and peace advocates, all from both sides of the city.
Speeches from both Mayors reinforced the need and appetite for dialogue between the two communities in order to bring peace and development to the region. The Mayors reiterated the need for officials from both sides of the city to plan and act together to help unite feuding factions under the slogan ‘Think Galkayo, Act Galkayo’.
Women leaders from Galmudug and Puntland also spoke at the ceremony. Regular dialogue between women from both communities has fostered a positive relationship and a strong support framework for local development. Men were reminded of the legacy of Somali Youth League heroes and other key Somalia figures from Galkayo who played a key role in Somalia’s independence and self-governance.
“We don’t want to be widowers, lose our boys, raise orphans or spend a lifetime tending to fatally wounded young men. We want a better life so let’s not repeat the old mistakes and let us take advantage of this kind of opportunity. We want men to think about this”, said Dhudhi Yusuf, a women’s leader.
Speakers reiterated the benefits of a joint implementation approach, which steered the authorities towards dialogue and coordination. In contrast with other dialogues convened as a result of killings or camel raids, this is the beginning of a community dialogue between north and south based on positive and mutually beneficial development.
The installation of solar street lighting in Galkayo marks just the beginning of Stability Fund support for economic growth and conflict resolution in the region. The Fund is now considering further initiatives to address priorities identified by the Mayors and city councils from both sides of the divide.