LOSS

Somaliland seeks support to rebuild Waheen market after fire

The Kenyan business community offers to support.

In Summary

•An estimated cost of over $2 billion (Sh230.4 tillion) was lost in the weekend inferno.

•Dahabshiil Group of Companies which includes the largest money transfer company in Africa is among entities leading the fund mobilisation.

Traders at the razed down Waheen market in Somaliland.
Traders at the razed down Waheen market in Somaliland.

The Somaliland business community is mobilizing support from the international community to help raise funds to rebuild the expansive Waheen market that was razed to the ground.

An estimated cost of over $2 billion (Sh230.4 tillion) was lost in the weekend inferno.

The business community has already contributed substantial funds towards reconstruction efforts of the market, considered one of the largest and busiest in the horn of Africa.

Many of the traders in the market had financial links with other parts of the world including the Gulf, China, Asia and Europe.Traders from Kenya are among those affected by the fire.

Also affected were women who ran small businesses to support their families.

The cost of rebuilding the infrastructure and destroyed businesses is believed to be in the region of $5 billion (Sh576 trillion) with the government and the business commun​ity now rallying for support from across the globe.

The tragedy struck when the region is suffering one of the worst droughts in decades, recording the driest season in 40 years.

It came on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan, a period when traders import huge quantities of food and other goods, all of which have been lost.

It is feared that from the tragedy, the city and its environs will face a severe shortage of food and other commodities which was already being felt due to the war in Ukraine.  

The tragedy struck when the region is suffering one of the worst droughts in decades, recording the driest season in 40 years. It came on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan, a period when traders import huge quantities of food and other goods, all of which have been lost

It is feared that from the tragedy, the city and its environs will face a severe shortage of food and other commodities which was already being felt due to the war in Ukraine.  

Key leaders who showed sympathy with Somaliland include British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said his government will assist in the rebuilding process and called on those with good will to help.

Dahabshiil Group of Companies which includes the largest money transfer company in Africa is among entities leading the fund mobilisation.

It has been working closely with the small micro enterprises that operated in the market by offering financial services to them.

It is our hope that the international community will take cue from the British Prime minister’s appeal and help in the reconstruction effort,” said Dahabshiil CEO Abdirashid Duale, who is leading in the mobilisation of the business community to raise funds.

Duale who visited the scene of the fire added: “I am devastated that so many have lost their livelihoods inferno. It is time we come together to rebuild the market. As Dahabshiil we will do all we can to help all those who have been affected.”

In an interview with the BBC, Duale said the economic impact of the tragedy was massive.

The government has estimated the loss to be around $2 billion. I believe it could be more than that because thousands of people, from Hargeisa to the border with Ethiopia to the port city of Berbera and beyond, depended on that market. It was a regional hub serving the entire Horn of Africa," he said.

Dahabshiil, Dahabshil Bank, eDahab and the company’s other financial services have committed to waive all fees for anyone contributing funds towards the rebuilding of the business district.

Money sent to Dahabshiil’s special fundraising account is being managed by an independent committee which will make sure the assistance will go to the right people, especially those hit hardest by the fire, Duale said.

Meanwhile, the Kenyan government sent its message of sympathy to those affected.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirmed in a statement that Kenya shares a common heritage and strong bonds of friendship with Somaliland.

It is with deep regret that we have learnt of the tragic accident that occurred in Waheen market in Hargeisa on the night of 1st April 2022. The Government and the people of Kenya stand in solidarity with the people of Somaliland and extend sympathies to the victims and families of the injured,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Somaliland community in Kenya will on Sunday hold a fundraiser in Nairobi to raise funds towards the reconstruction efforts.

The fund raiser has been organized by the community and the Somaliland Representative office in Nairobi.