Community-led road safety on the Burao-Berbera Road
When new roads are built or existing roads upgraded, sometimes the communities affected by the fast new highways that pass through their villages can be overlooked. That’s why the SDF-supported Burao-Berbera Road Rehabilitation Project has a strong community participation component to engage the communities in the districts the road runs through. The Burao-Berbera Road is nationally important since it links the eastern regions of Somaliland, which are significant areas for livestock production, with the international port of Berbera. Live cattle and camels begin their journey to market along this route, which sadly had become severely degraded over the years, and urgently needed rehabilitation, hence the Project. Yet, important as the end result is, major road works like these can create their own local problems.
So, as well as supervising the rehabilitation of the road, the Project Holder, the Ministry of Transport and Roads Development, also set up seven road safety committees in the villages that the road passes through. The idea behind the committees was to assist project implementation teams with initial community mobilization, assist with conflict resolution, create community awareness about road safety and to make it easier to recruit casual laborers.
Saleban Aden Dirir, 50, lives in Hudusa, a small village between Burao and Berbera, where he was born, and considers the road rehabilitation project to be the most significant and life-changing project in which his community has ever been involved in. He is also a member of the local road safety committee that was established a year ago by the MoTRD.
"We mobilize our community and inform them about the upcoming road rehabilitation and its needs, including diversion routes; resolve conflicts that may arise; mobilize construction workers from the area that are needed; and voluntarily do some pre-rehabilitation works, such as filling potholes that require simple repairing and creating temporary speed breaks," said Saleban in an interview with the SDF team.
Nura Jama, 23, is a member of the women's committee and discusses their role in community engagement. "As women, we support the committee during mobilization and assist if gender issues arise, as they have in the past. We also help with pre-rehabilitation tasks like determining the best diversion routes and performing minor road repairs."
The road rehabilitation work itself is expected to be completed in September 2023. But it doesn’t end there, since Saleban, Nura, and other committee members are eager to be involved even when construction work has been completed. They intend to continue the work of the committee by promoting local road safety, protecting the new road signage, cleaning, and so on.
The Ministry of Transport and Roads Development (MoTRD_ is implementing the Burao-Berbera Road Rehabilitation, which is supported by the SDF. When completed, the road is expected to reduce travel times by up to 21% and dramatically cut vehicle operating costs in the areas traversed and connected by the road. Trade with Puntland and Ethiopia is expected to increase by USD 11 million.