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Harawo Region of Somali Regional State of Ethiopia Is On Its Way!

by Mohamoud Abdillahi Roble
Thursday, March 31, 2016

In recent events, the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia president has nominated the city of Dharwanaje as a fully functioning district. This recognition of the district was long awaited by the vast majority of the people who wish to create the Harawo region in Somali National Regional state of Ethiopia. 

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Dharwanaje district located in the famous Harawo valley has opened a path for the people who have wanted to unite the Districts of Awbare, Lafaisa, Wajale and Dambal into one region. People of these districts largely belong to the Gadabursi clan and have a mutual goal to unite these districts as one region. According to the estimate by a census done in 2007, the combined population of the Harawo region is around 500,000.

According to local elders and sources, it was found that Somali Regional State of Ethiopia will be expanding its districts by creating two new regional administrations in the Kilil 5. Dharwanaje was considered to be over populated and geographically resourceful to the Somali state of Ethiopia, which is the reason the city was announced as a fully functioning district.

With the announcement, the people are in hope that the second regional administration that is to be announced would be the region of Harawo. Making Harawo a fully functioning region will allow the leaders of different districts to form an administration that can build a better Somali Regional State of Ethiopia. It is a uniting force to bring the resources and people together for the betterment of the state.

A Brief History of Ethiopia

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia located in the Horn of Africa shares its borders with Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea. Ethiopia has a population of approximately a 100 million people and after Nigeria, is the most populated country in Africa. It is also the most populated landlocked country in the world.

Ethiopia is a region that has a very vast and intricate history. From its rise under the Askumites to the current state formed as a Democratic Republic of Ethiopia suffered a lot of loss over the years but recently they have become one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

There have been many discoveries made in Ethiopia that point towards prehistoric hominids to be living there. Ethiopia is one of the main regions that contribute to the study of paleontology. After all, a hominid fossil found here dates back to 4.2 million years.

In 3000 BC Ethiopia and Egypt had a lot of trade with each other. The Egyptians have referred to the land as “God’s-Land” due to the vast amount of ivory, gold and myrrh that was easily obtained.

Over the years there have been empire’s formed in the region but due to constant invasions and no stability for a long period of time, the land suffered greatly. The Ottoman Empire, the Portuguese, and the Italians have all tried to take control of the land that had a lot of resources.

Both Islam and Christianity have been dominant over the region in different time periods. The region has architecture that points to influences from both the faiths. Today majority of the region follows Islam. Following a lot of interferences from the outer world, Ethiopia after 3000 years is still one of the regions that have not lost their sovereignty.

The Gadabursi Clan

Along the coast of Red Sea of northern Somali and Eastern Ethiopia Gadabursi clan which is also known as Samaroon is a sub-division of the Somali clan Dir. The clan being divided from a larger clan has direct ties to Isaq in Somaliland, Surre in Somalia, Biyomaal in southern Somalia, Issa in Djibouti and Gaadsan in Kenya.

The Gadabuursi clan was established about 1600 years ago and at the time of establishment and considered the first indigenous clan in old commercial port of Zeila, the clan had a King (Ugas) and many elders working under him. These elders and the King formed the administrative power of the region.

The clan consisted of four committees which were under 25 elders each. They consisted of the Defence committee which also authorized the police force and set guidelines for them, and a social committee that looked after the welfare of the people and everyday problems faced by the people. Another committee was formed that looked after the finances and the taxation system of the region along with a Justice committee.

The head of the four committees were selected on their talents and personal traits that could establish them as a great leader. The Gadabursi law also known “Xeer Gadabursi” was a constitution developed to oversee the functions of the committee according to different areas. It was defined on the basis of whether a committee was new or already had been implemented in the area before.

It was the King of the Gadabursi clan who had opposed the arriving of the British. On December 11th 1884, an agreement was signed between the two parties but it soon turned into a disagreement due to which the British planted some people against the King, leading to the downfall of the clan.

The Gadabursi’s are mainly cattle breeders who supplement their cattle herding with cereal cultivation. They are also the most educated clan in Somalia. During Somalia civil war, they are represented by the Somali Democratic Alliance and later joined the formation of Republic of Somaliland. The former president of the Somaliland Dahir Rayale Kahin and the current vice president of Somaliland   Engineer Abdirahman Saylici are both of the clan.

The Gadabursi are widely distributed in the Somali Region; they can be found in Djibouti as well as Somali Regional State of Ethiopia.

The Gadabursi clan of Ethiopia was the one who expressed the desire to combine their traditional districts of Dambel and Awbere to form a new region-state known as the Harawo district. The Awbare district already declared as one of the most populated districts in Ethiopia, it combined with Dembel can serve as a good development Centre for the country.

The Economy of the Harawo

Harawo’s main income comes through livestock. About 80% of the livestock that is distributed in all of Somali-Ethiopia are bred in the Harawo Valley. Dharwanaje District itself has agriculture and livestock as the main source of income for the land according to the last annual government tax revenue collection.

The livestock that has more popularity in the Dharwanaje district are Camels, Cows and Goats. The livestock is used internally and is also exported to neighboring countries like Somaliland for revenue generation. The claim can be made that most of the meat eaten in the areas of Borama and Gabiley are supplied from the Harawo Valley. The region is the main food producer for the state.

Although there has not been much interest of the government in looking into the development of livestock facilities and better breeding processes, the establishment of the regional administration of the Harawo region may make developments towards increasing livestock awareness and getting the state to build better facilities that would breed healthy livestock.

The secondary source of income of the area is farms. Crops like wheat, Barley and Corn are grown throughout the Harawo Valley. The area where these are widely grown is an area near Lafaise town called Oogo which covers almost one-third of the Harowo. Study made in 2001, Awbere has 21.963 farmers currently who hold about 0.99 hectare of land. 21.7 km of the private land was surveyed and it was found out that 83% of this land was being cultivated. The people mostly grew cereal crops in the area with some vegetables grown on the side.

Harawo region has a great potential for becoming a more cultivated region. People are already growing crops and will be able to produce a greater yield if the government can help them set up their own administration in the land. Research is required when it comes to better fertilizing techniques and better seeds are to be imported to help the land reach the potential that it has.

The livestock trade although is not international at the moment, could become an international commodity with the help of investors and government. With a region so experienced in breeding cattle, it is sure that they will create a new industry that will become the backbone of the Somali Ethiopian state.

Geography of the Region

The region’s terrain mostly consists of mountains and inhabited and uninhabited valleys. With seasonal rains, the area gets enough water to serve the livestock and the people but there is still room for much more development of the land.

The Somali-Ethiopian region consists of the Harawo valley which runs through most of the agriculture supporting regions of the area. The Harawo region is about the same size when compared to its twin sister neighboring region of Awdal also known Adel. Both these regions are inhabited by the Gadabursi clan who are working towards forming the Harawo region.

The Importance of Harawo Region and the vision of the President

President Abdi Mohamoud Omar

Since the formation of Somali-Ethiopia, the people occupying this region have longed for their rights and their share in the funds for the economic development of the area. Today after years of waiting, the region remains where it was and the government has not considered taking any specific action for the betterment of the people and the region, like they have done for some of the other regions around Somali- Ethiopia.

Currently Somali-Ethiopia consists of 19 regional administrations. Harawo and Dharwanaje have enough geographical area and a large number of people to reduce four of the regional administrations into two, which would be economically viable and sustainable for the state and provide chances of growth in industry and economy.

The region still, after years of suggestion and struggle is not being given the full right of the administration. With the establishment of Dharwanaje administration, the people in support of Harawo region have been given new hope. It is an essential need to form Harawo Region as it can be more successful than the other 19 regions which are not as economically sustainable and lack the man power that Harawo has.

For a region that has been providing the bread and meat, feeding about 3 million of Somali-Ethiopian people, is it not fair to give that specific region an administration of their own where they can manage the resources they have better? With a region generating more than 70% of the revenue in taxes, is it not fair that some of that revenue be used to develop the area which is helping generate it?

Creating a regional district for the Harawo people is a step that can improve the relations of the people with the government. An administration that will always be in contact with the existing government of the state would be much better in providing the facts and figures that are needed to improve the gross income of the country.

The land consists of dedicated people who are asking for a combined administration to improve the status of their country. The people are loyal and want to be a part of a bigger organized and much prosperous region by hard work and better management.

The people of Harawo congratulate the people of Dharwanaje and the president of the region Mr. Abdi Mohamoud Omar in this big step taken, but we also urge these people to consider other regions that need to have an administrative body.

Harawo Will Prosper

With the growing economic state of the country and with more technological advances, the region of Harawo can be the driving force towards a better Ethiopia. It is time that the state government recognizes the contributions that the land has made and begins preparations to make this land a better to place to be lived in with more industrialization for economic prosperity.

The land is still contributing to most of the revenue generated in Ethiopia, so it only makes sense that the country establishes a good administrative system which can help monitor the funds and enhance the ways the country can generate more revenue.

The long road for the Harawo region seems to be closing in and the hope for a better future of the Harawo region does not seem far. The people are eagerly waiting for the news to reach them and hope that it will come sooner than they thought. 

Mohamoud Abdillahi Roble: Teacher, Writer and Poet.
[email protected]

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