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After over five years of support to trust- and relationship-building in order to secure lasting peace among conflicting groups across south and central parts of Somalia, elders from both warring communities clans participating in the inter-clan dialogues in the Galgadud region negotiated the opening of the road connecting Balanbale to Herale through a local peace agreement. Prior to the agreement, the road had not been passable.
"I have not passed Herale for the past 14 years. It was too dangerous to dare going there and hence the interactions of the two sides were very limited before the recent reconciliation…” said Abdi, a local taxi driver.
Where previously, drivers (including those transporting partner staff from Zamzam Foundation and Life & Peace Institute) and field mobilisers were unable to use the route due to volatility and conflict, vehicles are now moving freely between Balanbale, Herale and Guriel.
"Imagine, these were the people with whom we have grown up together or who took care of me when I was young. But due to the fear of persecution, we have not met” said Omar, a dialogue participant who took part in the peace process.
Now, with the movement of goods and services along the road, businesses have opened up, contributing to improved economic growth and encouraging private sector activity. Families too have been reconnected after more than a decade.
While the peace remains in its early stages, agreements such as these contribute to a long-term process of building social cohesion towards sustainable peace and development across Somalia.
The project, part of Life & Peace Institute’s ‘Nabadeynta Beelaha Somaliya’ Programme (2017-2020) and implemented in collaboration with Zamzam Foundation, is supported by the European Union and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. The Programme supports local inter-clan reconciliation and people-centered policy-making associated with the ongoing state building process.
Picture 1 – prior to the agreement, travellers were forced to change cars during the route while crossing clan control boundaries due to long-standing tension.
Picture 2 – local community members using the Balanbale to Herale road.
Picture 3 – traffic on the Balanbale to Herale road, following the peace agreement.