Academics from Cardiff University are visiting Somaliland to develop research collaborations on some of the country’s most pressing issues.
The Cardiff-Somaliland Working Group was set up to forge closer links between members of the Somaliland community in the city, academic staff and the Government of Somaliland. During the week-long trip, experts from a variety of disciplines across the university are exploring how their research can help the country as it rebuilds and recovers from civil war.
Cardiff, which was a major port for coal exportation in the 19th and early 20th centuries has strong historical links with Somaliland. Thanks to the pioneer Somali seaman who worked and then settled in the city, the Welsh capital is now home to one of the largest and most established Somali communities in the UK.
The partnership project stemmed from research which was led by Dr Richard Gale, Dr Andrew Williams and Ali Abdi, in collaboration with Cardiff’s Somali community and funded by the University’s Community Gateway programme.
Dr Gale, based at the School of Geography and Planning, said: “We cannot underestimate the contribution the Somali population have made to the Cardiff we see today. Our research, which was carried out collaboratively with the community, aimed to understand this rich history further and has now led to important links being made with the country of Somaliland. We are looking forward to meeting with the Government there to explore how the University can assist them in developing a prosperous, sustainable economy.”
A number of areas will be discussed and investigated during the trip. Professor John Pickett from the School of Chemistry will be meeting with discussing pest control and the health of livestock. Dr Rhys Jones from the School of Biosciences will be considering how cultivating certain plant species could sustain agricultural livelihoods.
Dr Richard Gale and Nasir Adam from the School of Geography and Planning will be investigating how their research can assist with urban livelihoods and youth employment. Members of the University’s Water Research Institute will be offering expertise on water sustainability. Health education and women’s health, as well as forestry and environment are also issues that will be explored.
Nasir Adam, who is doing his PhD on the Somali community in Cardiff, said: “The Somaliland community is one the oldest communities here in Wales and as Welsh Somalilander I truly believe that this is a timely piece of research both among Somali diaspora here in Cardiff and Somaliland.
“Until now, robust research has been limited; it will not only have a huge impact on the diaspora community here in Wales, but it will also have a fundamental impact in understanding needs of young people in Somaliland. Most importantly the research will cement sustainable partnership with civil societies, non-government organisations, youth organisations and academic institutions.”
Cardiff University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Riordan commended the aims of the project. “As Somaliland consolidates its path to reconstruction, it presents a powerful example of hope and recovery to many other societies, particularly those emerging from civil war. These are challenges in which Cardiff University is keen and well-placed to assist.
“I look forward to the opportunities this partnering project creates for future dialogue and cooperation.”
Welsh Government Minister for International Relations Eluned Morgan said: “The progress of the project, which focuses on assisting the Somaliland Government to achieve a number of its UN Sustainable Development Goals with funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund, will build on the strong diaspora ties that continue to connect the Cardiff community with Somaliland.
“I am excited by the prospect of this project and the benefits it will bring to the people of Wales and Somaliland.”