Planting an urban forest in the Somalian desert

The fast growing outskirts of Garowe today

In a fast-growing Somalian desert town, a coalition of local visionaries are laying the foundations of a brighter, greener future.

Somalia is urbanising rapidly at a rate of 4.25% per year, and the foundations that get laid in the young towns and cities of Somalia today will shape the future of the country for generations to come. The fast growing city of Garowe, nestled deep in the north eastern deserts of Somalia, symbolizes this exciting phase of urbanization and development. Defined by rock, sun and sand, the landscape and culture of the city have been shaped by generations of pastoralist herders. But in Garowe today, tar roads and traffic circles are fast replacing goat tracks and watering holes. Garowe is many things to many people, but of all these, it is not a space associated with greenery. 

However, if a growing coalition of the city’s residents gets their way, this is all about to change. Under the banner of the Green Garowe project, a coalition of academics, educators, residents and community leaders are planting trees for a greener future for Garowe. This is a bold vision, as planting a forest in a desert city filled with hungry goats is not without its challenges! However, John Samanya from the Green Garowe project says “inspiring people to plant trees is the biggest mind shift that needs to take place”.

Winning over young minds, one tree at a time: young participants get their hands dirty at a Green Garowe planting day.

After this, it’s about putting in the protection measures needed to ensure that the trees reach a level of maturity when they are able to fend for themselves. Both research and education have played a critical role in getting Green Garowe to where it is today.

This post was written by Luke Meterlerkamp, Digital Weavers