EU-funded improvements at Somaliland’s Berbera Beach make streets safer and brighter

Communities in the coastal city of Berbera in Somaliland now feel safe to walk around in the evenings and enjoy beachfront entertainment thanks to new street lights funded by the European Union. 

More than 200 new solar-powered street lights were installed along the pavements lining the three kilometre road leading to the Batalaale beach and parts of the  beachfront as part of a wide ranging Berbera Urban Development Project.

The Project is being funded by the EU and implemented by UN-Habitat in collaboration with the Berbera Municipal Authority. 

Residents who used to be afraid of going out in the dark now walk around the streets  at night.

“Following the installation of the lights, we are now free to walk in the evenings with our families and friends and even have dinner at the beach. As a woman, I now feel safe to walk around in the evenings,” said Amal Qodal, a Berbera resident. 

Residents who used to be afraid of going out in the dark now walk around the streets  at night.

Berbera’s becomes extremely hot during the daytime in the summer so people prefer to venture outside once it cools down. Previously however many were reluctant to go out in the dark.

Days after the street lights were installed, hundreds of local residents came out the night to watch an entertainment event organised by a local group. 

“I am so happy about the music and dance performance we did here tonight under the lights. This is the first time we did such an outdoor performance at night and we aim to continue given the reception we have received tonight. This was possible because of the street lights,” said  Mowlid Feisa, chairman of Hiddo Kaab Dance Academy. 

“Previously when we came to the beach at night, we could not venture out or stay long because of the darkness, but tonight I feel like staying here all night, “said Mohamed Ahmed, a local tourist from Hargeisa. 

The overall objective of the Berbera Urban Development Project is to support sustainable and inclusive urban development, strengthen employment opportunities for women and youth, and improve waste management. Improvements include setting up recreational activities in public spaces and providing livelihood opportunities.

“As part of the Batalaale beach front development, we have  pedestrian walkways on both sides of the road leading to the beach. The walkway means that people can also use wheelchairs and push babies in buggies to the beach. There is also a bus stop nearby,” says Abdishakur Mohamoud, the Mayor of Berbera.

Five structures with roofs made from traditional grass have been put up to ensure a cool place to shade from the searing heat.

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Berbera is popular for recreational activities.

“My kids and I come here to enjoy a place we always lived in, but now has new attractions such as modern roads and the swing for the kids. This has all brought the beach closer to us than ever before,” says Dacar Haji Ahmed, a father of three who came to the beachfront with his children.

To ensure the sustainability of the project, 10 municipal staff who are engineers and technicians were trained on installation and maintenance of the solar streetlights. 

 “We are extremely happy with the level of involvement given to us in not only selecting this project, but also involving us in its implementation and it serves as a model for future interventions in the city development. I am extremely happy that this project has been implemented as intended. I would like to thank the EU for that,” added the Mayor of Berbera.