Burao Travel Guide

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Burao is the second largest city in Somaliland. It has a population between 300,000 and 350,000 people. It is an important commercial centre. It has the largest livestock market in the region, and brings together traders from as far as Bossaso in the North East of Somalia, Luq, on the boundary with Kenya, in the South, and Djibouti in the West.

Like many other cities in the region, it had previously suffered from destruction and internal displacement due to a prolonged civil war in the 1980s. In 1988, almost all its residents were forced to flee for their lives. The majority of its inhabitants ended up in refugee camps in Ethiopia. When they came back home in 1991, they returned to a ghost town striped of every thing of value that could be moved or removed.
Almost all the dwellings in the city were either roofless or without windows, or both. Many of them were left in ruins, and the streets were conquered by natural vegetation in the absence of human population for nearly three years. Public facilities, including schools were not spared destruction. Before the civil war, the town boasted of a well known technical school, and a vocational school for range management. Both of them were national institutions. It had also two secondary schools (Sh. Bashir, and Sh. Osman Nur). All of them were looted, and damaged extensively.

Reconstruction started in earnest as soon as people returned to the city. Restoration of schools also began though slowly. Primary and pre-primary schools were first repaired. Unfortunately, the process of rehabilitation was twice interrupted by local conflict, first in 1992, and then in 1994. The situation was exasperated by the ban on livestock exports to the Middle East in 2000. As the principle livestock market in the country, this had a disproportionate effect on the economy of Burao, and caused its recovery to lag behind that of other main cities.

But things are changing for the better. The city has now enjoyed almost nine years of fairly uninterrupted peace. There is a strong sense of community and a determination to rebuild what has been destroyed. This has already created an environment much more conducive to investment and regeneration. As a result, the city is now going through a fervent period of renewal and rebuilding and is enjoying an unprecedented expansion. The majority of the city’s primary and secondary schools have been already rebuilt, renovated or restored. According to the statistics of the Somaliland Ministry of Education, there were 31 public and private primary schools in Burao, in which 11,627 students were enrolled in the scholastic year 2003/4. The region as whole had 73 primary schools in which nearly 16,000 students were enrolled (see Table 1). The expansion of secondary education has been equally impressive. The city has now six secondary schools, and a seventh secondary school is under construction.

Public and Private Secondary Schools in Burao for the Scholastic Year 2004/2005 Secondary Schools

1 Candle light
2 Al-Faaruuq
3 Abdllaa Nori
4 A/Naser
5 Sh. Bashir
6 Sh. Ibrahim
7 Machad The first class graduated from Burao secondary schools in 2003, and many more will do so in the coming years.

The question which parents and educators in Burao and the region have faced until now has been, ‘What to do with these young secondary school leavers?’ That question has been finally answered with the establishment of the university of Burao, which has been set up to offer them and others an opportunity for higher education without leaving home.

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January 16, 2006 change by giorgio

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