The meaning of sustainable development in Somaliland


Somaliland’s environment has been severely degraded due to decades of civil strife, and degradation is still being exacerbated by the lack of a fully recognised Government, lack of adequate law enforcement and global processes of climate and biodiversity degradation. The overall aim of this study was to understand how graduates of Climate Change & Environmental Sustainability (CCES) programme in Somaliland and the public understand sustainable development. The study adopted a cross-sectional-tracer-survey with a purposive and snowball sample of 152 graduates of CCES and CCES related-programmes since 2018 from three regions of Somaliland employed in MoA, MoERD and MoES at the national and the regional levels. The study adopted the co-production strategy which was consistent with the tenets of ESD. Data was analysed thematically and descriptively.

The study found that a large majority (98.6%) of the respondents do not have a correct understanding of sustainable development; the common sources of information for sustainable development are formal education (77.9%), media (16.6%) and NGOs (5.5%); and that the major barriers to sustainable development are environmental challenges, bad governance, education based challenges, political and economic challenges. Further, the study found that charcoal production can be stopped through use of suitable and affordable alternatives, extensive education, good governance and employment creation; that a majority (66.45%) of graduates of CCES programmes and other respondents feel that they are doing enough to achieve sustainable development in their respective regions. They are actively involved in NGO projects and programs, capacity building, promoting use renewable energy and the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, and recycle.

The status of sustainable development in Somaliland was rated poor across all levels at an average of 70.07% across all respondents. The poor rating arose from a lack of responsible institutions, mass ignorance, poor governance, high charcoal production, use of poor agricultural methods, and high prevalence of retrogressive traditions.  Most graduates of CCES programmes (62.11%) have benefited: they now have better understanding of sustainable development, have new knowledge on environmental management, more understanding of effects of climate change, and better understanding of green energy. The study concludes that there is no official definition or understanding of sustainable development in Somaliland. This will continue to impact negatively on efforts to achieve sustainable development.

The study recommends that the government:

  • Provides a local, national and contextualised definition of sustainable development;
  • Mounts a concerted education and create awareness through various media on sustainable development;
  • Develops, implement and enforce policies to ensure achievement of sustainable development in all its dimensions at the grassroots.
  • Improves the CCES programme through hiring sufficient number of more qualified persons; making the programmes more practical; providing adequate modern teaching and learning resources; collaborations and exchange programmes with other universities.
  • Carry out extensive action research on land degradation and desertification, charcoal burning, firewood and alternative energy; drought, climate change and water scarcity; pollution and degradation of air, water, land and social and cultural values; invasive species; land resources management, overgrazing; waste management and natural disasters. 

Key Themes:
Climate Action
Location: somalia