In a remote corner of Ethiopia cluster five refugee camps, filled with Somalis who over the last ten years have been driven from across the border by extremist Islamic violence and several years of punishing drought. Now, Ethiopia, with the help of U.N. agencies, NGOs, and private corporations is looking to turn these refugees into citizens, to help them become self-reliant, rather than dependent, and to transform their camps into cities—sustainable cities.
It is a bold plan, finding a permanent solution for those marooned in transient camps. My husband and I have had a front row seat as this effort gets off the ground, as work is being done to bring power to the camps and a newly burgeoning agriculture to this semi-desert.
We arrived in mid-November on a dirt runway at the airport in Dolo Ado, or “Dollo” as the locals call it. This is Ethiopia’s southernmost eastern region that backs up to the Kenya and Somalia borders, a tri-country place where all the local peoples mix and mingle, trade and deal.
Around 220,000 refugees are living in the camps Buramino, Hilaweyn, Kobe, Melkadida, and Bokolmanyo. Upon our arrival at our new home at the Melkadida United Nations High Court of Refugees (UNHCR) base, George Woode, head of UNHCR, briefs us on the situation here.
The weather is a scorching 110-120 degrees during the day and the rainy season has just ended. For months during our stay here the sun is always shining with not a cloud in the sky, so it is no surprise that solar power seems to be made for this environment.
Click here to continue reading