The Somaliland Ministry of Environment and Rural Development, with the support of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has launched a public awareness campaign to reduce deforestation, charcoal production and ecosystem damage. The campaign was launched at a three-day event in Hargeisa in July attended by communities from across Somaliland, and will be followed by further public events and a media campaign.
Cutting trees for charcoal and firewood, and unsustainable use of environmental resources, has led to wide scale deforestation and environmental destruction, which has exacerbated drought and flooding across Somaliland. Speakers at the campaign launch event highlighted the high deforestation rate in the country, outlined energy alternatives to charcoal and firewood, and updated participants on government policies and laws which have been put in place to reduce deforestation, prevent illegal settlements and protect ecosystems.
The Minister of Environment and Rural Development, Shukri Haji Ismail Bandare, said learning about the environment and sharing ideas on how to protect it was the main focus of the public campaign. “We need to be aware of the changes in the environment which impact our lives, and try to find solutions to those changes, so that we can deal with and adapt to the consequences of climate change,” she said.
Ilaria Carpen, Head of the UNDP Area Office in Hargeisa, said it was possible to reduce charcoal production and use of environmental resources in Somaliland. “UNDP is committed to supporting Somaliland in finding a solution to deforestation, ecosystem damage and the impact of climate change. We are working closely with the Ministry of Environment on this and water and resource management solutions. We are very thankful to the European Union, Italy, and Sweden for their support of work on charcoal reduction and deforestation,” she said.
At the closing day of the launch event, the Ministry issued a communique committing to implement conservation laws and policies, and calling for increased cooperation and coordination between line Ministries, regional administrations, the private sector, NGOs, and academics, to reduce charcoal production and ensure environmental biodiversity.