As part of UN-HABITAT’s urban management initiatives in the Somali region, a workshop was conducted in April 2010 in the town of Sheikh to discuss urban planning activities required for the district and the wider region.
The UN-HABITAT and Sheikh Council publication Sheikh: First Steps towards Strategic Urban Planning (completed at the end of the Urban Development Programme for the Somali region) was also explored with participants.
Sheikh is a pilot area − along with Hargeisa − for UN-HABITAT’s continued support to municipalities towards gaining a better understanding of urban spatial planning as a tool to guide local development efforts. Participants included the mayor, vice-mayor, district councillors, district office staff, and representatives from community groups and non-governmental organizations. On the second day, the focus was on the city’s vision for 2015. The finalized vision articulated hopes for better services and increased prominence in the region.
The workshop agreed on the following as the key issues for district development:
- There is a desire for improved services and infrastructure, especially regarding the road network and water distribution systems.
- There is potential for expanded educational facilities: the two high-standard education institutes − the SOS Secondary School and the Terre Nuova Technical School − have given hope that Sheikh could become an education hub for Somaliland.
- The visit of a prince of Kuwait and the construction of his house in Sheikh have helped to improve the city’s health facilities. Sheikh needs to identify and utilize this and similar opportunities as nodes for local development.
- Sheikh needs to have a strategic urban plan to guide further development.
After the workshop, copies of Sheikh: First Steps towards Strategic Urban Planning were officially handed over to the mayor. This publication series provides basic guidelines for district-level spatial planning, while long-term technical backstopping to Somaliland districts in urban planning issues is underway within the set-up of the Land and Urban Management Institute.