Harardheere, the historic district in the southern Mudug region of Galmudug, faced immense challenges in the past decade and half under the rule of al-Shabaab, resulting in devastating destruction of historic places, schools, and healthcare centres. The local economy also suffered a severe blow, driving many businesses to flee from the district. The harsh reality of the district’s situation forced many families to flee from their homes in search of education and healthcare services for their children as well as freedom for their businesses.
In collaboration with local militias known as Ma’awiisleey and state-level forces, the Federal Government of Somalia recently recaptured Harardheere district, in the southern part of the vast Mudug Region.
Unlike previous movements, the Ma’awiisleey movement brought so much hope. As soon as Harardheere was liberated, a delegation led by Galmudug’s president Ahmed Abdi Kaariye visited the district where they spent almost a week and met with the different parts of the community. Within a few days, the district commissioner and his deputy began performing their daily tasks and serving the people of Harardheere. Other important officials such as education and healthcare officials were operational a few days after liberation.
On Jan 16, 2023, Somalia’s Minister of Defence Abdulkadir Mohamed Nour posted the first video from Harardheere district on the short-form video hosting app TikTok. Usually, this is not that special, after all the minister is known for his TikTok presence, but this was indeed special as it marked the district having an internet service for the first time in its existence: 15 years behind the rest of the country.
Having an internet service in Harardheere for the first time ever has been a significant milestone for the local population. The availability of internet service has opened new opportunities for the residents enabling them access to information, communicate with others, order goods online, and use modern online banking for payments.
Over the past fifteen years, the healthcare system in Harardheere district has been severely weakened due to a lack of medical supplies, equipment, and trained staff. Moreover, because of fear of the group, there has been a shortage of healthcare workers. Following the district’s liberation, the Ministry of Health of Galmudug has begun to provide high-quality medical equipment and medications. Additionally, the Ministry has deployed adequately trained staff. It also begun the training of new staff, most of them from the district itself. It is noteworthy that the salaries of healthcare workers at every level have been paid since the district was liberated.
As a result of the liberation, the district’s mother and child health centres, as well as the health centres in the surrounding villages, have been re-opened and are now fully operational. However, due to the prolonged neglect, Harardheere’s General Hospital, which provides free healthcare, needs significant refurbishment.
Back to school
A decade and half ago, Harardheere district had two primary and secondary schools: Harardheere and Mus’ab Binu Umeyr, one public and one commercial respectively. Due to al-Shabaab’s restrictive and oppressive rule both schools faced numerous challenges leading to sub-optimal functioning and the eventual closure of Mus’ab Binu Umeyr which the group later turned it into a military base.
During the decade and half that al-Shabaab had the control over the district, the schools suffered from declining enrolment numbers, lack of qualified teachers, limited educational materials, all of which leading to an unsuitable learning environment.
As a consequence of the lack of facilities in the district, there were several students from Harardheere Primary and Secondary School who sat for the class eight exams in Mogadishu in the 2022-2023 Academic Year. The school, with the support of the Ministry of Education now promise that these exams will be held in the district come next academic year.
Things are looking up for Harardheere. Now thanks to the state’s Ministry of Education, teacher training, school feeding programs, curriculum, and distribution of other learning materials have all commenced. For the first time in 15 years, teachers’ salaries have been fully paid by the state hopefully attracting more educators to return.
Commerce in Harardheere under al-Shabaab’s reign was challenging to put it mildly. The district’s main economic activities such as general trade, livestock, and agriculture were severely affected due to heavy and arbitrary “taxation”. Additionally, the group’s restriction on movement and transportation led to the shortage of essential commodities eventually forcing countless businesspeople to flee the district.
Furthermore, the insecurity caused by the group’s operations created a fear and uncertainty that discouraged the business community from operating in the district. Unsurprisingly, the accumulation of these problems led to the lack of income sources for the local population exacerbating poverty.
However, since the government regained the control over the district, there has been a gradual improvement in trade in the district. The government called upon the business communities to return as it has improved the security of the district. Six months on, businesses now operate peacefully, and traders are able to transport goods without any fear. These measures have led to an increase in economic activity, already lifting many families out of abject poverty.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of this publication.