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Somalia, March 2016: Support from JPLG ensures a fire-gutted school reopens in record time

© UNICEFSomalia/2015/Idle
One of Berbera’s main primary schools, Omar Binu Khatab, partly destroyed by fire last year and reconstructed with support from the JPLG programme.

By Jamal Abdi Sarman

BERBERA, Somaliland, March 2016 – Students at one of the main primary schools in Omar Binu Khatab, Berbera will never forget the morning of August 10th last year when faulty electrics caused a fire and destroyed part of the building.

Fortunately, no one was injured. The students were on holiday and the fire was quickly put out. However five classrooms and the head teacher’s office were destroyed. There was concern that the students’ education would be disrupted and they would be unable to sit for the national exams just a few months away.

The Head Teacher, Abdirahaman Yussuf, said the whole community was worried. “We found smouldering roofing-tops and charred furniture when we visited to inspect the damage,” said Mr Yussuf. “The entire school population was affected. National exams were around the corner and the students needed to study and sit the exam but their bases and resources were destroyed.”

Luckily, the Sahil region, where Berbera is located, was among the three regions in Somaliland where the Joint Programme on Local Governance education component was being spearheaded and implemented by UNICEF. The Joint Programme on Local Governance and Service Delivery (JPLG) aims to strengthen local government capacity to enhance decentralized essential services. Schools in Berbera and other adjacent districts were benefiting from the scheme through technical capacity building, the payment of auxiliary staff and support to local government budgets that enables school rehabilitation.

Led by the Berbera Municipality, Sahil education stakeholders met shortly after the fire and apportioned resources from the JPLG-supported local government budget for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the classrooms and the office block.

“We assessed the magnitude of the loss – not just the physical loss but also for hundreds of students who were going to miss out on studies and performing their best in exams,” said Abdishakur Mohamed Hassan, the Mayor of Berbera. “We immediately reviewed our plan and allocated the school rehabilitation money that was US$55,980 in total.

“The rehabilitation of the school took a month, while the students were still on holiday,” he said. “When the schools reopened the students were able to continue with their studies as normal.”

Under the JPLG, UNICEF supports four districts in Somaliland (Borama, Berbera, Burao and Odweyn) and four in Puntland (Garowe, Gardo, Bossaso and Bander Beyla) in the delivery of health, education and water to their communities. As a result, the quality of services at schools has improved, including in hygiene and security. The JPLG programme, which runs until the end of 2017, is implemented by ILO, UNCDF, UNDP, UN-HABITAT and funded by the EU, DFID, DANIDA, SIDA, Norway and Switzerland.

 

 
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