Hargeisa, 13 September 2019—Hargeisa residents, experts and other stakeholders last week engaged in the unique exercise of projecting the future of their city.
For the first time ever, the children of Hargeisa were also involved in this exciting exercise. They envisioned their future city – hence applying the Child-Friendly City approach.
The event dubbed Hargeisa Urban Visioning Week #ChildFriendlyCity was organised by the Municipality of Hargeisa, the Ministry of Public Works and the Government of Somaliland, in partnership with UN-Habitat and UNICEF – as part of the UN Joint Program on Local Governance (JPLG). From 1 - 5 September 2019, citizens of Hargeisa and experts were engaged in multiple workshops to map out how the future of Hargeisa could look like.
In the days preceding the week, consultative workshops were held in each of the 5 districts of Hargeisa, bringing together community representatives to discuss common issues, challenges, and hopes. On the 31st of August and September 1, a group of around 47 enthusiastic children and young people started discussing what they like and dislike about their city, as an important contribution to the Urban Vision Week. Some of the most common issues raised in the pre-visioning consultations were related to public spaces: lack of open spaces, playgrounds, access to basic services, harassment of girls in public spaces, garbage, open defecation, bad and unsafe roads, among others. A most welcomed guest was the Mayor of Hargeisa, Abdirahman Mohamud Aided, who provided unequivocal support and attended all the workshops.
The Hargeisa Urban Vision Week took place at the Hargeisa Cultural Centre, with an official opening ceremony on 1 September, by the Vice President of Somaliland Abdirahman Abdilahi Ismail Saylici and various members of the cabinet.
In the following days, citizens of Hargeisa and experts were engaged in multiple discussions to map out how the future of Hargeisa could look like. Acknowledging Hargeisa as a young city, the youth and women played a pivotal role in shaping the future of Hargeisa during the exercise. In addition, vulnerable groups in society including disabled and elderly were given the opportunity to share their visions throughout the week.
The results of the Urban Visioning Week, summarized in a shared urban vision declaration, were presented to the Mayor on Thursday, 5 September.
The participants summarized their vision of Hargeisa in 2040 as a CREATIVE, CARING, CHILD-FRIENDLY, CLEAN, CONNECTED, CLIMATE RESILIENT and COOPERATIVE city.
In parallel, 15 children from all the districts of Hargeisa were involved in a Block By Block Workshop, a digital participation methodology which helped them through a videogame to design the open space in front of the central Stadium of the city. This was the first time that the children operated with a computer. The innovative suggestions and inclusive design ideas provided by children and gathered with this tool will be the foundation of a Public Space Design to be implemented under JPLG.
Furthermore, Urban Vision Week coincided and interacted with a Summer Lab on ‘Exploring social cohesion in Hargeisa’, organized by the Bartlett Faculty of the University College of London, which brought in the discussion the view of Hargeisa from international students and lecturers.
The shared vision will be consolidated with an expert workshop bringing together city leadership, decision makers and external experts, to elaborate on next steps including implementation of possible interventions, guidelines and bylaws.
The findings of the initiative will then be summarized and made public in a Report in October. This way, the shared vision will provide a solid foundation for more regulatory urban policies, plans and designs, all which are intended to steer the future urban development of Hargeisa in a more sustainable and child-friendly direction, aligned with universally agreed planning goals and principles. The objective is to strengthen the capacities for the implementation of the Hargeisa District Development Framework in line with National Development Plan.
Videos and Photos available at https://twitter.com/Hargeisa2040