The Man-Soor Hotel in Somaliland played host to the first ever Expo in Hargeisa for NGOs and Humanitarian Agencies, on August 29th and 30th. Oxfam took part in this ground breaking event, exhibiting information on the humanitarian and development programs that Oxfam has been supporting there in recent years.
“This was a good idea, to showcase the work of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) and the UN,” said Shukri Ismail, of Oxfam partner organization Candlelight. “It is a great opportunity to show our work, and for the government to acknowledge us.”
The Expo event was officially opened on Wednesday by the Somaliland Vice President, Abdirahman Ismail. Several high level government dignitaries visited Oxfam’s booth at the convention center, including the Finance Minister, Abdiasis Samaale. Others who visited Oxfam’s setup included Member of Parliament, Adam H. Diriye, plus representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Water, and Ministry of Planning and Development.
As the Expo continued into the second day, students from local universities as well as the Somali diaspora were present in large numbers. Some expressed interest to learn more about the work that Oxfam does in Somaliland, while others wished to explore opportunities of employment with Oxfam and its partners.
“This is the first Expo for humanitarian organizations,” said Ismail of Candlelight. “I was on the preparation committee, and it took us four months to prepare. It was a big challenge; it took a lot of time and effort.”
The idea for the exposition originated with the Somaliland Ministry of Planning and Development. There had been concerns expressed by government ministries, that there was a lack of perception in the public, as to what work humanitarian agencies were doing in Somaliland. The Expo was introduced as an outlet to showcase the good work that humanitarian agencies do in the region.
Oxfam has been working in Somaliland for more than 20 years. Since 1995, Oxfam has focused on building the capacity of local NGOs and civil society to carry out both development and humanitarian work. Programs that Oxfam supports include Drought Risk Reduction, Humanitarian Assistance, Education, Governance, and Sustainable Livelihoods.
A total of 82 local and international humanitarian organizations took part in the Expo. In addition to Candlelight, other Oxfam partner agencies that participated in the Expo include HAVOYOCO, ADO, SONYO, and NAGAAD. The Expo also provided aid agencies working in Hargeisa, with the opportunity to interact and network with each other on possible future projects.