Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia 


02 - 15 NOVEMBER 1994, Matt Bryden

Executive Summary
From 02-15 November 1994, a mission from the UN Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia (UN-EUE) visited the north-eastern sector of Region 5, approximately the arid plateau known as the Haud, or former Somali "Reserved Area." The purpose of the mission was to offer an overall evaluation of conditions in the area, with special reference to security, food security, trade, and administration. Unfortunately, the hijacking of the project vehicle at an early point in the mission did not permit all objectives to be fulfilled. The findings of the abbreviated trip are described below.

Security: Security, a direct function of political and social stability among Somali clans, is generally good throughout the area. There is remarkably little inter-clan tension in comparison with the situation across the border where the same clans also inter-mingle. This is almost entirely due to the power and influence of traditional clan leadership, since the presence of official security forces (EPRDF, police) is minimal, and restricted to a handful of locations. The absence of a government presence means that events in Somalia may easily spill over onto Ethiopian soil, and that there is relatively free movement across the border of people, vehicles and arms.
The area is free of the kinds of guerilla. Casual banditry (such as the looting of the mission vehicle) poses the only danger to Haud travellers for the moment.

Politics and Administration

Subsequent to its relocation from Gode to Jigjiga, the Region 5 Administration is still absorbed by its own need for re-organisation and reform, and is not yet prepared to discharge its all of its normal functions. Some key posts in the administration remain unfilled, and although its plans have been approved, the government will not be in a position to implement its capital budget for the 1995 fiscal year for another month or two. With only 7 months remaining, Bureaux will be under considerable pressure to meet all of their committments under the accelerated timetable.

East of Gaashamo, where there is a small military garrison and a few public buildings, there is virtually no sign of administration, and communities rely upon traditional authority structures for management of their affairs. The area can therefore only be understood in terms of the clans who live there, all of whom are "transnational" and thus simultaneously involved in the Somali political and military arena.


Somaliland and the Haud compose a single economic area, in which the presence of an international boundary is practically irrelevant. There are no formal border controls, so livestock and goods may pass freely in both directions. In general, livestock from the Haud is sold for export through Somali ports, principally Berbera and (to a lesser extent) Bosaaso. Terms of trade have improved over the past two years since the end of the war in north-west Somalia and the easing of a long period of drought.
Pastoralism: The population of the area visited is entirely composed of pastoralists, who migrate seasonally in search of water and pasture. Over the past few decades this movement has been reduced, to the point where many families move no more than 20-30 km a year. The widespread introduction of cisterns and artificial ponds, and the use of tankers to truck water during the dry season, are mainly reponsible for this changing way of life. Nevertheless, the lack of permanent water sources, and the scarcity of veterinary care, remain of primary concern to the inhabitants of the region.
From 02-15 November 1994, a mission undertaken on behalf of the UN Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia visited the north-eastern corner of Region 5, otherwise known as the 'Haud' or former "Reserve Area." The mission's terms of reference were to report on the general situation in the area, with special reference to security, economic activity, and humanitarian considerations or needs.

Although expected to last between two and three weeks, the mission was cut short when the team's vehicle was hijacked on 10 November 1994. A second visit was made to Jigjiga from 22-25 November 1994.

Note: Unfortunately, all mission notes and source materials were also lost with the vehicle. Precise information such as market prices and rates of exchange are lost, thus references to this data in the report are unfortunately imprecise.

Matt Bryden UN-EUE Consultant

Sa'id Hassan 'Halig' SERP Project Officer, Gaashamo
Abiib Ahmed Mohamed SERP Driver, Harshin

(A complete itinerary is included as an annex)

02/11 Addis - Jigjiga
03-06/11 Jigjiga
07/11 Jigjiga - Gaashamo
08/11 Gaashamo - Gorgor
09/11 Gorgor - Marqaan Weyne
10/11 Marqaan Weyne - Qararo
11/11 Qararo - Gaashamo
12/11 Gaashamo - Qabri Beyah
13-15/11 Jigjiga
15-11 Jigjiga - Addis Ababa
22-25/11 Jigjiga


With certain notable exceptions of banditry, security in the Haud area is contingent upon reigning socio-political circumstances on both sides of the international boundary. Tension between clans in one area will almost assuredly produce tension elsewhere between the concerned clans. Such tension may result in anything from constraints upon safe travel and commerce, to controlled blood-feuds, and even to full-scale inter-clan war.

Although heavy weapons remain for the most part on the far side of the international boundary, small arms are commonplace in the Haud. Only in Gaashamo were we told of any restrictions concerning fire-arms, i.e. that magazines must be removed from rifles within the town. Since we saw no other weapons, we assumed that this applied mainly to members of the EPRDF garrison. Elsewhere, weapons are carried freely by adult men (we did not observe any children bearing arms, unlike Somalia) for protection and as a symbol of status. Although President Abdirahman Ugaas described the formation of EPRDF-sponsored community militias as a new means of providing security throughout the Region (and particularly as a technique for combating Al-Ittihad), this process has clearly not yet begun in the Haud area, where such militia - or even the idea of such militia - do not yet exist.

In the absence of any consequential EPRDF/government presence, maintenance of security remains the province of traditional clan leadership. Only in the case of a major disturbance might the potential for an EPRDF intervention be considered to be a determinant of law and order in the area. Security is therefore a function of political and social stability, and thus directly linked to events on the other side of the border. Clan conflicts may be transmitted from one side of the frontier to the other, or take place on both sides of the border simultaneously.

A cross-border conflict was reportedly in progress in and around Bokh at the time of the mission, where two sub-clans of the Mijerteen clan (Reer Mahamud and 'Omar Mahamud / Mahamud Sesman) were said to be involved in serious clashes. The killing of a district official in Garowe, north-east Somalia was said to have triggered the battle - a consequence of political tension generated by the current political schism within the SSDF. Due to insecurity (over 20 people killed and 40+ technical vehicles circulating in and around Bokh), it was not possible confirm the reports with a visit to the area. It was reported to us that the EPRDF garrison at Bokh had withdrawn from the conflict zone to Wardheer.

Al-Ittihad Al-Islam

There is much confusion and contradictory information concerning the nature of Al-Ittihad Al-Islam and the threat posed by the organisation to security and stability in Region 5. The mystique surrounding the organisation no doubt serves to enhance its dubious prestige, and may well even be encouraged by the movement's leadership. Security-related incidents in the area are frequently reported to be the work of Al-Ittihad whether or not this is really the case; since the movement typically refrains from claiming responsibility, it is possible that actions of other groups are mistakenly attributed to the Islamists. Al-Ittihad rarely explains its actions, and it is rare to find someone with first-hand knowledge of the movement. Observations and analysis about Al-Ittihad, such as that which follows below, can be little more than speculative.

There can be little doubt that the movement's activities are of real concern to the new leadership of the Kilil. In meetings with both Abdirahman Ugaas and 'Iid Dahir, both men devoted a substantial portion of the meeting to the Islamist group, without any questioning (Abdirahman Ugaas is apparently a committed enemy of Al-Ittihad, having worked closely with the EPRDF during their early operations against the movement). Elsewhere, any mention of security issues while in Jigjiga automatically elicited some response concerning Al-Ittihad, from members of both the local and international communities. Only the EPRDF commander did not directly mention Al-Ittihad as posing a threat to security in the region.

By most accounts, Al-Ittihad have recently been most active in the area between Qabri Dehaar, Denaan, Qalafo and Dhagax Buur. Some loose elements were reported to be active near Danood, Nusdariiq and 'Adow, having been recently dispersed by the EPRDF from their usual theatre of operations. In the Haud area, however, clan leaders (Isaaq and Dhulbahante) were unequivocal that Al-Ittihad would not be permitted to operate within their territory. The categorical rejection and contempt for Al-Ittihad articulated by the Isaaq and Dhulbahante we encountered would obviously inhibit Al-Ittihad recruitment among their members for the time being. It remains to be seen whether renewed civil strife across the border in Somaliland would favour Al-Ittihad's expansion among these communities.

This local 'ban' on Al-Ittihad operations may not amount to a total embargo: there are indications that the Islamists' lines of support must cross the territory of the Haud clans, and that these same clans permit the existence of Al-Ittihad camps among them across the border in Somaliland. Booraame (Gadabursi), Bur'o (Habar Yonis & Habar Je'elo), Las 'Anood (Dhulbahante) and Luuq (Mareexaan) are variously identified as major cross-border bases for the organisation, while it also reportedly maintains a presence in many other communities including Hargeysa, Badhan, Muqdisho and Bosaaso. Since their battle against Al-Ittihad in 1992, the SSDF have been among the most virulent opponents of the Islamists, and have circulated a dossier containing precise information about the movement. Among their assertions are the description of Bur'o as the retreat of Al-Ittihad's leadership, headed by Sheikh 'Ali Warsame, and a detailed description of linkages between these Somali-based groups and their brethren abroad - including Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia.

In addition to obscurity surrounding Al-Ittihad's international organisational structure, some confusion exists concerning the relationship between Al-Ittihad and other militant groups within Ethiopia, whose areas and methods of operation often overlap. Some observers have suggested that the Islamists are little more than an armed appendage of the ONLF, while others equate Al-Ittihad with the Ogaadeen Islamic Unity Party. This narrow definition of the Islamists as a clan-based political entity like the ONLF, essentially pursuing Ogadeni nationalist aims, stands in direct contradiction to Al-Ittihad's profile across the border in Somalia and Somaliland: a pan-Islamic organisation whose creed of Islamic unity (hence the name) transcends parochial clan or ethnic interests. Nor has Al-Ittihad's alleged leader in Region 5, a man named Abdiselam, expressed admiration for the ONLF or any other group with limited, political horizons. More probably, Al-Ittihad simply finds it easy to capitalise on present Ogadeni discontent, redirecting the disaffection of clan members into support for the Islamist front, and exploiting ONLF/Ittihad common interests as a kind of "force multiplier" in their campaign against the government.

Whatever the reason, Al-Ittihad activity within Region 5 remains concentrated within the Ogaadeen clan. At no time during our mission did we encounter any sign of Al-Ittihad operations that would contradict the universal assurance we received that the movement was not tolerated among the Isaaq and Dhulbahante clans we visited.

Information about the actual source of donor funds remains vague. Some administration officials (and one member of the Somali Embassy in Teheran) cite Iran and Sudan as principal donors. Private contributions are also said to come from Saudi Arabian, American, and European Islamists. Only in one instance did any of our contacts actually describe having seen foreign members of Al-Ittihad: two Arabs, describing themselves as Egyptians, who visited the Al-Ittihad base near Gode in mid-1992, at a time when the front had made territorial gains in the south-eastern Ogaden. The visitors apparently discouraged the capture of territory, arguing that it could dilute the militancy of the movement and detract from its contribution to the global Islamist cause.

Since then, the Ethiopian branch of Al-Ittihad seems to have abandoned any territorial ambitions. Although the message of the Arab visitors described above might be one reason for the movement's change of heart, other contacts in Jigjiga have argued that the organisation is simply too weak to face the prospect of a direct confrontation with EPRDF: the certain outcome of any attempt to take and hold ground. Indeed, Al-Ittihad seems to shun virtually any contact at all with outsiders, including the Regional administration.

During talks with the movement's leadership reported to have taken place early this year, members of the regional government managed to make some progress in persuading Al-Ittihad of certain common objectives, including the promotion of Islam. Negotiations broke down, however, over the issue of disarmament, a constitutional requirement for any political party seeking official recognition from the TGE. Fighting again erupted, and all contact between the administration and Al-Ittihad seems to have been broken. The new regional government now claims to pursue an aggressive campaign against Al-Ittihad employing local militia, equipped and reinforced by the EPRDF, a technique also advocated by moderate Ogadeni leaders opposed to the Islamists. It is too early to evaluate the success of this new strategy, though there are hints that Al-Ittihad have asked to attend the upcoming Ogaadeeni meeting in Qabri Dehaar, perhaps opening up new paths for dialogue.

Political and Social Organisation

Region 5 Administration
(N.B. As of 05/12/94 the President of Region 5, Mr Abdirahman Ugaas, has been relieved of his responsibilities and title.)

In May/June 1994, the TGE dissolved for a second time the administration of Region 5, citing maladministration and inefficacy. The re-appointment coincided with the designation of Jigjiga rather than Gode as the new capital of the Kilil. The implications of this transition, both practical and symbolic, have yet to be fully felt, though some early inferences may be drawn.

Of prime symbolic importance is the relocation of the capital from Gode, which strikes a blow at the traditional hegemony enjoyed by the Ogaadeen clan in regional politics. Unlike Gode, Jigjiga is a cosmopolitan centre frequented by Somalis of all clans, Oromo, and highland Ethiopians. No single major group dominates the area, allowing representatives from all communities to interact on the basis of relative equality. Although the shift is perceived by many members of the Ogaadeen group to reflect an anti-Ogaadeen bias, the appointment of Ogaadeenis to major posts in the administration (including the Presidency), would suggest that such fears are exaggerated. Nonetheless, several key posts remain unfilled, perhaps reflecting the delicacy of clan sensitivities to such appointments more than the availability of qualified candidates for these posts.

In practice, the installation of the government in its new home is far from complete. Staff from Gode are still arriving and facilities to accommodate them are scarce. Office and housing space in Jigjiga are limited, and fundamental requisites such as office equipment, communications, transport, and support staff are not yet adequate. Senior figures share pooled vehicles and answer their own telephones (sometimes two or more, which ring ceaselessly); appointments are first-come first serve, with unruly lines forming outside officers' doors. The additional, unnecessary pressures created by such working conditions on an administration on now struggling to its feet are evidently cumbersome.

Staffing of the various Bureaux (there are to be 23) also poses a challenge. The Executive Committee's Secretary is especially critical of the widespread appointment of personnel to post's beyond their qualifications - a practice he attributes to the former Gode regime. The Executive Committee has thus requested the dispatch of a task force from the central Council for Public Administration in order to review standards and staff qualifications. He expressed a strong commitment to the rapid replacement or, where necessary re-training, of unqualified personnel, while recognising that this process may further inhibit the implementation of this year's capital budget.

The budget is one of the administration's major preoccupations. A full Amharic text has been prepared and approved by the central government, and a Somali text is presently in translation. A comprehensive breakdown of the budget by project and district (in any language) is not yet available, though certain

Bureaux seem to have formulated comprehensive plans for expenditure, and are awaiting only the disbursement of funds from the central Treasury. Several practical constraints to implementation of the budget remain unresolved.

Foremost is the compressed time frame for implementation of the budget: the fifth month of the Ethiopian fiscal year is now in progress, leaving only seven months remaining. President Abdirahman estimates that another month or two must elapse before the administration will be prepared to disburse funds, sharply pressurising the various bureaux. Exercising control over accelerated expenditure in the five or six remaining months of the fiscal year will certainly challenge the government's capacities. Funds remaining at the end of the fiscal year will be re-absorbed by the central government: a blunder of previous years that the administration is anxious not to repeat.

Even when money becomes available, simply spending it may not always be possible for the Bureaux concerned, since local capacities to absorb cash are very restricted. For example, costs per unit for construction of public buildings are standardised under the budget, meaning that the government will pay the same price for an office in Jigjiga as in Geladi. Private contractors are unwilling to assume the additional costs associated with work in more remote areas of the Ogaden, and claim that such contracts are unprofitable. Thus tenders for the building of schools, clinics and other planned government infrastructure may simply not attract any bids - a problem that has already frustrated the plans of the South-East Rangelands Project (SERP) in Negob zone, relatively close to Jigjiga.

Despite the problems, members of the administration seem to feel that the situation today represents an improvement over past years. Credit for much of the progress being made may largely be due to the intervention of the TGE. Many of the new senior appointees are Amharic-speakers, at least partly raised or educated in highland Ethiopia, and thus better equipped for dialogue with the central government. They are also generally receptive to the TGE's political formula of regional autonomy, which demands accountability and transparency at the regional level (whether the administration is better described as "pliant" or "pragmatic" in its dealings with the central government remains a moot point). Furthermore, in recognition of the Kilil's present weaknesses, the TGE has provided a technical team to strengthen the region's administrative capacity. The need for this support seems undisputed by the regional authorities, who readily admit the flagrant corruption and mismanagement which tainted previous administrations. They also seem to acknowledge that past failures have stemmed in part from political immaturity and in part from lack of professional and technical human resources necessary to bear the burden of regional self-government. This self-criticism seems to be complemented by - and indeed prerequisite to - a vigorous and sincere drive for reform. Whether or not this reformist spirit, reinforced by impartial central government intervention (e.g. the CPA, technical team etc.) can shield the mechanism of governance from the corrosive effects of clan particularism remains to be seen.

Rural Areas

Beyond Jigjiga, government authority recedes rapidly into haze, becoming either illusory or in some areas totally non-existent. Cartographic definitions of international borders, and internal regional or district boundaries are either intrusive or irrelevant to the inhabitants of this area, who profess little (if any) first-hand knowledge of any kind of administration. The Haud itself comprises a number of administrative zones and districts (or parts of them) whose demarcation is principally arbitrary and whose names serve as little more than geographic labels: Dhagaxbuur, Danood, Bokh, Geladin etc (all of which may be accurately described as towns, but not as administrative districts). We heard numerous complaints from residents of the area that these boundaries, though effectively notional, were neither appropriate nor appreciated, especially where a single clan may be divided between two (or more districts), or where two clans may be lumped together in a single administrative principality. Since these boundaries are little more than abstract concepts for the time being, disapproval was also somewhat hypothetical.

Evidence of government in the area visited is limited to isolated EPRDF garrisons at Gaashamo, Wardheer, Geladi and Bokh (reportedly abandoned due to recent insecurity) and to sparse, dilapidated infrastructure. We were informed everywhere by village elders (with the single exception of Marqaan Weyne, where the census was in progress) that they had never seen any sign of an Ethiopian government (implying, improbably, that the area had even been spared the ravages of the Ogaden War). In general we heard that a government presence would be welcomed, especially if it implied benefit to the community in terms of public services.
Public Services: Health

Gaashamo was the only community visited with a "public" health facility: a clinic comprising a consultation room, examination room and store-room/pharmacy. The clinic functions basically as an OPD, managed by a senior nurse (and acting District Medical Officer) Mahamed Mahdi Hassan, since no doctor is in attendance. The nurse and his auxiliaries, 16 in total, are not paid, though they are theoretically to receive remuneration from the regional government.

Diagnosis and treatment of complaints is of unknown reliability, however discussions with the head nurse and extracts from the register suggest that the most common diseases are:

1. Malaria
2. Diarrhoeal diseases
3. Hepatitis
4. Anaemia
5. Measles
Other: skin diseases, TB, pneumonia, scabies

With the exception of Hepatitis among the top five, this report appears largely consistent with health profiles of communities throughout Somalia. The appearance of measles so high on the list may reflect the near-total lack of vaccination reported to us among children under 5 years.

Resources for the clinic come from a variety of sources: most of the medicines in the pharmacy were said to have come from Bur'o, suggesting that they come from MSF and UNICEF stores there (confirmed by a glimpse at the labels). The head nurse told us he also purchases medicines occasionally in Dhagaxbuur for resale through the clinic in Gaashamo; the proceeds go to the purchase of more drugs. One cold box, empty, was said to date from Mengistu's regime. A variety of surgical instruments and an examination table were also in evidence.

Beyond Gaashamo, larger villages seem to depend on private pharmacies whose competence in matters medical probably varies widely.

Public Services: Education

Gaashamo is also the only community in the area to benefit from a public school building - supposedly constructed during Haile Selassie's reign. Like the health workers, the teachers are supposed to receive a government salary which arrives rarely, if ever at all. Furniture and educational materials are a matter of pure improvisation: children bring tin cans and rocks to sit on in class, while teachers search for textbooks wherever they can find them: most seem to come from UNICEF contributions in Somaliland. The principal (and acting District Education Officer), 'Ali Ibrahim Yusuf, draws up the curriculum himself without any guidance from either central or regional government.

Parents apparently contribute to the expenses of their children's' education, and the disproportionate presence of children from the local religious community or tariiqa, Al Wahda, which we observed during our visit suggests that the group may also underwrite some of the school's costs. Al Wahda, a pacific, traditionalist Islamic movement, has long been active in the Bur'o area and has some support among both the Habar Yonis and Habar Je'elo. There is no other form of support.

Education in smaller communities is limited to private Quranic schools, whose curriculum sometimes includes subjects like Somali language and maths. In all other respects, formal education is non-existent throughout the area.

Clan Relations

Apart from Gaashamo where there is a small EPRDF outpost and some buildings for a school, a clinic, and a district administrative office we saw practically no evidence of government administration. Some members of the Gaashamo local council receive an irregular stipend. Virtually no other support is received, and the functioning of these structures depends entirely on community and private initiative. Beyond Gaashamo, community elders were emphatic that they represent the only effective authority in their territories - an assertion supported by objective observation, since we encountered no other formal power structures during our visit to the area. Since security, political and economic activity are all profoundly clan-related, conditions in the area can only be understood in terms of clans: clan territories visited included the those of Isaaq (Habar Awal, Arab, 'Iidagale, Habar Yonis, Habar Je'elo) and Dhulbahante (insecurity around Bokh, and the hijacking of our vehicle in Qararo forced us to abandon plans to visit areas controlled by the Mijerteen and Ogaadeen). Because of the presence of UNHCR in between Jigjiga and Aware (comprising Habar Awal, Arab and 'Iidagale territories - all Isaaq), this study focused on the relatively little-known area from Gaashamo east, a zone predominantly settled by Isaaq Habar Yonis and Habar Je'elo, Dhulbahante and Mijerteen. Within each territory, dominant sub-clans or lineages may differ from village to village. An annotated sketch map and list of contacts is included for clarification.

Habar Yonis (Isaaq): the Habar Yonis, a large clan of the Isaaq / Garxajis family (which also includes 'Idagale) straddle the Somaliland border, and branches of the family also live in the area of Berbera and 'Eerigaabo in Somaliland. Gaashamo serves as the clan's Ethiopian "capital", in a territory that spreads north to Hargeysa, Oodweyne, and Bur'o. It is a source of aggravation for the community that Gaashamo is administratively labelled as a dependency of Dhagaxbuur - a town dominated by a clan (the Ogaadeen) with whom they have strained relations and little common interest. Relations with their Garxajis cousins, the 'Idagale, are generally good and they share a common political orientation on most matters. In Somaliland, sections of the Habar Yonis, are presently allied with the dissident 'Iidagale militia in their opposition to Mohamed Ibrahim Egal's administration. Their relations with their eastern neighbours, the Habar Je'elo, traditionally involve some friction, and the two often find themselves on opposite sides of divisive political issues (also the case in Somaliland at the moment). . In the south-east corner of their territory, the Habar Yonis share a border with the Dhulbahante with whom they have cordial relations, despite a more general Isaaq-Dhulbahante hostility. Even during the SNM's struggle against Siyaad Barre, trade and travel between Isaaq and Dhulbahante could continue through this peculiar juncture.

Habar Je'elo (Isaaq): the Habar Je'elo are not strongly represented in Ethiopia, occupying a wedge of territory between the Habar Yonis and the Dhulbahante. Their relations with the Dhulbahante are characterised by feuds and disputes over grazing, and they have little in common politically, having fought on different sides during the SNM's war against the Siyaad Barre regime. Their only major 'urban' centre is Bur'o, a town they share roughly equally with the Habar Yonis. Within Ethiopia, the Habar Je'elo find themselves generally lumped together with the Habar Yonis, and resent the pre-eminence of Gaashamo as a local centre of Isaaq activity (the Habar Je'elo have no comparable Ethiopian base). They therefore seek separate representation from Gaashamo vis-à-vis the regional government and the constituent assembly.

Dhulbahante (Daarod / Harti): Within Ethiopia the Dhulbahante share borders with the Isaaq (Habar Yonis and Habar Je'elo) to the west, their Harti cousins the Mijerteen to the east, and the Ogaadeen to the south. Relations with the Ogaadeen are generally good, perhaps better than the Mijerteen whose history with the Dhulbahante is complicated by infrequent skirmishes and blood feuds. The Dhulbahante 'capital' is at Las 'Anood, across the border in Somaliland. Following several years of dependence upon Bosaaso as an outlet for trade, the Dhulbahante are turning increasingly to Berbera, both for its proximity and in consequence of a general warming of Dhulbahante-Isaaq relations under the Somaliland administration.
New Trends

Despite the traditional character of local authority throughout the Haud, some new linkages between these far-flung communities and the administrative hubs of Jigjiga, Dire Dawa and Addis Ababa seem to be emerging. Among these phenomena are the new mechanism of direct representation to the constituent assembly, the formation of new political parties (in particular the Ethiopian Somali Democratic League or ESDL), and the first exploratory efforts of the TGE to extend its influence directly into rural areas (initially through the population and housing census).

The mission encountered two communities with direct representation to the constituent assembly: Gaashamo (Abdikarim 'Ali Guleed: Isaaq / Habar Yonis) and Marqaan Weyne (Jamaa' Diibleh: Dhulbahante). Community elders are aware of these delegates' participation in the assembly and apparently consider them to be representatives of their kinsmen throughout the area, rather than as conventional "platform" politicians or as the spokesmen for one or another village. A direct linkage between the traditional dynamic of inter-clan relations and the modern "democratic" model exemplified by the constituent assembly may therefore be inferred.

Uncertainty, and a certain degree of scepticism, surrounding the role and purpose of the constituent assembly was common, though we were able to observe efforts underway to raise popular awareness about this new mechanism. For part of the journey the mission travelled together with Mr Huseen Ali Guleed, an official from the regional administration. Mr Guleed met with the elders of various villages, informing them of the need for collaboration and consensus at the regional level, and the imperative of subordinating clan interests to Somali "national" interests where regional affairs were concerned, and the need to offer a united Somali front vis-à-vis other nationalities in the Ethiopian political arena.

The "unity" message is also the message, perhaps not coincidentally, of the Ethiopian Somali Democratic League (ESDL) and of the League's architect, Mr Abudlmejid Huseen (current Minister of External Economic Co-operation). Many villages through which we passed had new League offices and nascent party structure. In view of Mr Abdulmejid's virtually single-handed management of Somali affairs on behalf of the TGE, it is not surprising that the "unity" theme is also pervasive within the new Regional Administration. Moreover, it has caught on among some of the League's adversaries among the Ogaadeen clan, who are now trying to effect a rapprochement between radical Ogaadeen tendencies (disillusioned by their perceived fall from grace) and those more predisposed to share power with the (generally) non-Ogaadeeni membership of the League. A meeting intended to encourage this process is scheduled to take place from December 5th in Qabri Dehaar.

Trade patterns are primarily a function of the geography of each clan and its relationships with its neighbours. The population of the Haud is therefore more closely linked economically to its kinsmen across the border in Somaliland and Somalia that to neighbouring, but unrelated, communities in Ethiopia. Consequently, the Haud and Somaliland (which includes part of the Haud plateau) comprise what Dr. Ahmed Yusuf Farah, anthropologist and UNHCR consultant, rightly describes as "a single economic zone." Livestock flow north for export through various ports along the Red Sea coast, while commodities and manufactured goods follow the same routes inland.

Terms of trade in the eastern Haud seem to reflect natural trading patterns, free of the kind of market distortions encountered further west, where the local economy is largely fuelled by food aid inputs. Apparently, clan-specific demographics favour this north-south continuum, while posing invisible barriers to east-west trade. East of Gaashamo for example, there is no sign in markets of the grain and maize distributed through refugee/returnee programmes that is so abundant in the area of Jigjiga and Aware (questions about the availability of these items met with derision in many villages, where elders told us that even were they available nobody would eat them). By several accounts, fortified by our own observations, nothing of value moves along the east-west road from Jigjiga but qaad.

Prices for livestock throughout the area remained constant, with animals (sheep or goat) of first quality for slaughter or export selling between 100-120,000 shillings (approx. E.Birr 160-190). Second quality sold between 85-100,000/- (approx. E.Birr 130 - 160. Prices were quoted to us without exception in Somali Shillings). Most livestock traders said they would accept full or part payment in kind (barter) since cash of all denominations is in short supply. None of the herders encountered brought their own livestock to port for export. They preferred instead to sell their stock to large-scale exporters who purchased either through major markets (Gaashamo, Bur'o, Las 'Anood) or sometimes directly from the herders.

In return for livestock, merchants purchase commodities and manufactured goods imported from Djibouti and the Gulf states. Again, prices remained constant throughout the area visited, though Dhulbahante merchants consistently added 20,000/- shillings to these prices which they attributed to additional transport costs from Berbera (see map). As with livestock prices, all quotes we received were in Somali shillings.

The merchants were generally satisfied with these terms of trade, describing them as far better than the 1988-91 period of Somalia's civil war. During those years, fighting strangulated cross-border trade and forced sharp price rises for imports. A sustained drought over roughly the same period (but extending into 1992) concurrently encouraged widespread distress-selling of livestock throughout the Ogaden, placing pastoralists at a critical economic disadvantage. In response to questioning, we were told universally that the situation had much improved.

One "unknown quantity" at the time of our visit was the recent introduction of the new Somaliland shilling. In Isaaq areas the value of the new shilling remained pegged at 1:100 (1 S/L Shilling = 100 SoSh). This rate seems to have been fixed by Habar Awal traders (who sponsored the introduction of the new currency), while the value of the Somali Shilling was calculated against the Saudi Riyal, rather than the US Dollar. We encountered Somaliland Shillings throughout the Isaaq territories, and found that the currency met with widespread acceptance. Among the Dhulbahante however, we were shown only some specimen notes whose appearance was greeted with derision. Dhulbahante we interviewed were categorical that they did not recognise this new currency and did not wish to accept it, presumably mirroring sentiment among certain Dhulbahante living across the border in Somaliland.


The population of the Haud, specifically in the sector north and east of Wardheer is almost exclusively pastoralist. An SCF socio-economic survey of the Ogaadeen conducted in 1991 found no communities which could be described as either agro-pastoralists or cultivators in the area (0%). Although the geographic reach of the SCF survey was limited, observations from this mission would tend to support the assumption that only pastoralists live in this zone.


Water, or the absence of it, is perhaps the single most important determinant of life in the Haud. Permanent water sources are scarce, and even temporary sources are unreliable. Pastoralists and their livestock are therefore dependent upon a vast system of ponds or cisterns (balli), used to trap rainfall and groundwater runoff. Probably thousands of these balli exist throughout the area. The balance between exploitation of available water sources and the need to claim fresh pasture in order to sustain livestock is still the main preoccupation of communities of the area.

Permanent water sources typically fall under the jurisdiction of a single clan, and can only be used by others with the proprietor's consent. Clans may therefore show a preference for watering at one of their "own," distant wells, rather than to negotiate access to closer water within the territory of a different clan. Habar Yonis (Isaaq) communities described Bur'o and Oodweyne as the nearest permanent water sources, while Habar Je'elo mentioned Bur'o (shared with Habar Yonis) and 'Aynabo. Dhulbahante communities referred to 'Aynabo (shared with Habar Je'elo) and Las 'Anood (surprisingly, the former was mentioned more than the latter).

Virtually every group of elders expressed a desire for permanent water sources (e.g. boreholes) to be established within their locality. No consideration was made of the effects this might have on grazing, nor of the fact that in some parts of the Haud, exploratory drilling has shown the water table to be lower than 250-300m (e.g. beyond borehole depth).

In the absence of permanent water sources, most communities depend on cisterns or balli for their water supply. Since balli are usually private property, a single village and its environs may have dozens of them, each serving an extended family and their relatives. In times of relative abundance, owners may elect to sell water to other residents of the area; when scarce, water may remain family property, not for sale.

Both humans and livestock share these rain-fed artificial ponds, raising concerns about water quality for human consumption. Contamination is not the only threat to water quality, however. Since balli also tend to become breeding grounds for mosquitoes and thus malaria, it is common practice for owners to add a slick of diesel to the water's surface. The relative advantages and disadvantages of this practice clearly merit some investigation.

Tanker trucks fulfil a kind of intermediate function between boreholes and balli, since they allow seasonal water-sources to function perennially. It is common practice for balli owners to hire water tankers (at no small expense) in order to keep the ponds full even during the dry season (i.e. Jilaal, between November/December and March/April). Pastoralist are therefore no longer obliged to migrate in search of water during the dry months, and often choose to remain static. Nomads and elders consistently described their annual migration as covering only 20-30 km, noting that this is a steep reduction from several decades ago, when families might wander more than 150 km in search of water and grazing.

This evolution of the transhumant migratory pattern towards a more settled, stable model must undoubtedly have a tremendous impact upon social, economic and political arrangements within pastoral communities, possibility inducing new and intolerable pressures upon the local ecosystem and the populations - human and animal - which depend on it.


Animal welfare is of at least equal importance to pastoralists, if not more so, than human welfare. Elders in most villages in which we stopped preferred to devote the bulk of our discussions to matters of livestock health (including the availability of water) than to issues like human health and education. Their prime concerns in this domain were the availability of veterinary drugs, and protection of livestock from predators.

There is no effective government veterinary programme in the region visited. The South-East Rangelands Project (SERP), recently galvanized by a change of management, is in the process of completing a "development centre" in Gaashamo which will include veterinary services amongst other activities, but the timetable is uncertain and the effectiveness of the programme remains to be tested. In the meantime, herders are entirely dependent upon the irregular commercial supply of drugs from businessmen returning from abroad. The pertinence of these products and the correct use of drug protocols are therefore questionable, and the effectiveness of this system clearly inadequate: livestock merchants and herders were unanimous in their desire for better access to veterinary medicine, even through commercial channels.

Predators, specifically hyena and fox, were also commonly identified as a scourge. We were repeatedly apprised of the need for poisons to deal with these animals, whose predations were reported to be increasingly troublesome to the pastoralists.

List of Contacts ANNEX 1

Addis Ababa > Ahmed Arteh - Ecumenical Dev't Group of Somalia (EDGS)

> Mohamed Subcis - RTRD (Wardheer / 'Addow area)
> Adam 'Isse 'Ali - Nolays Relief Organisation (Wardheer/Danood)
> Abdikarim 'Ali Guleed - Ethio-Global (Gaashamo)
> Mohamed Mohamed Yusuf - Somali Relief Society (SORSO - Dudub/Geladi)
> Mohamed Bile - OAU Consultant
> Julius Holt - Consultant

Jigjiga > Abdirahman Ugaas - President, Region 5
> 'Iid Dahir - Secretary, Region 5 Executive Committee
> Ahmed Yasiin - ex-Attorney General, Region 5
> Commander Masho - EPRDF Zonal Commander
> Abdulrashid Dulane - SERP Project Manager
> Mr Nair - CARE Project Manager
> Rachel Lambert - SCF(UK) Project Director
> Christine Neveu - UNHCR Repatriation Officer
> Guido Ambroso - UNHCR Protection Officer

Gaashamo > 'Osman Mohamed Diig - Chairman
(Habar Yonis) > Huseen 'Ali Guleed - Deputy
> Engineer Diriiye - Ethio-Global Consultant

Ina Nur Muse > Sa'id Ahmed "Xamar"
(Habar Yonis) > 'Osman Aden Qalabjeen Elders
> 'Abdi Ibrahim Muse

Gorgor > Hassan Huseen "Xamar" Chairman
(H.Yonis/) > Ayanle Roble 'Ali Deputy

Muse Isma'il) > Yusuf Mohamed Hure "Barre" Elder / Mediator
Balli Daaye > Haji Hassan "Gebelax" Chairman
(Habar Je'elo) > Hassan Garbiye Deputy

> Ahmed Mahamed Hassan ESDL chairman
Gawlalaale > Mohamed Hassan Hayd Elder (H. Je'elo)

Heegaale > No contact
(Dhulbahante/ Reer Hagar)

Qararo > Suldaan Sa'id 'Osman 'Ali Suldaan
(Dhulbahante/ > Mohamed Dhuxul 'Ali District administration

Reer Khaalid) > Abdi Salaad Elder
Marqaan Weyne > Garaad 'Abdillahi G. Suufi Garaad
(Dhulbahante/ > Dux Mohamed Qoreeye Reer 'Ali Geeri)

(N.B. Clans named are dominant but not exclusive in the communities mentioned)


Heads of Bureaux
Region 5

1. Mr. Siyaad Xaaji Ibrahim Natural Resources and Conservation
2. Mr. 'Ali Bash Urban Development
3. Mr. 'Abdi 'Ali Jaama' Planning and Economic Development
4. Mr. Mustafa Faarax Agriculture
5. Dr. Mahdi Xuseen Health
6. Mr. 'Abdi 'Ali Xuseen Investment
7. Mr. Mahdi Xarun Xasan Trade, Industry and Tourism
8. Mr. 'Abdi Dalal Education
9. Mr. Maxamed Aden 'Umar Auditing
10. Mr. Maxamed Axmed Xasan Transport and Communications
11. Sh. Maxamed Madiin Yuusuf Justice
12. Mr. Axmed Xasan 'Ali Mining and Energy
13. Mr. Fekade Selassie Wami Government Employee Administration
14. Mr. 'Abdulahi Sheekh Axmed Information
15. Mr. Maxamed Maxamuud Daahir Relief and Rehabilitation
16. Mr. Towfiiq Ibrahim Finance

Members of Executive Committee
Region 5

1. 'Abdirahman Ugaas Muxumed Chairman
2. Axmed Makahiil Xuseen Vice Chairman
3. 'Iid Daahir Faarax Secretary
4. 'Ali 'Abdi 'Iise Member
5. Maxamed Ugaas Mahad "
6. Maxamed Maxamuud 'Abdi "
7. Sh. 'Abdinaasir Sheekh Aadan "
8. Dr. Maxamed Maxamuud Maxamed "
9. 'Ali Boorow 'Ali "
10. Maxamed Xaaji 'Abdi "
11. Diiriye 'Umar Faahiye "
12. 'Abdirahman Xaaji Maxamuud "
13. 'Abdulahi Yuusuf Aaqib "
14. 'Abdulahi Sheekh 'Ali "
15. Faqrudiin Sheekh 'Abdi'asiis "
16. Maxamed Baruud Deex "
17. Siyaad Daa'uud Gudaal "
18. Maxamed 'Abdi Maxamed "
19. Maxamed Xaaji Xasan "


Summary of 1994 Capital Budget
Region 5
Economic Development
Agricultural Development
Natural Resources
Mining and Energy
Road Construction
Transport & Communications
Social Development
Urban Development & Housing
General Development
Admin. and Infrastructure
Note: All figures in 1000s of Birr
Source: 1994 Fiscal Year Capital Budget - Region 5, Ministry of Planning and Economic Development (Addis Ababa: September 1994)


Detailed Itinerary

02/11 > Addis Ababa > Dire Dawa

03/11 > Dire Dawa > Jigjiga

07/11 > Jigjiga > Gaashamo (Isaaq / Habar Yonis)

08/11 > Gaashamo (H.Yonis) > Balli Midgan (H. Yonis)
> Shimbiraale (H. Yonis) > Hira' (H. Yonis)

09/11 > Hira' (H. Yonis) > Gorgor (H. Yonis)
> Tuulo Habreed (Habar Je'elo)
> Balli Daaye (H. Je'elo)
> Gawlalaale (H. Je'elo)
> Qararo (Dhulbahante / Reer Khaliid)
> Tuurwareen (Dhul. / ?)
> Heegaale (Dhul. / Reer Hagar)
> Marqaan Weyne (Dhul. / 'Ali Geri)

10/11 > Marqaan Weyne (Dhul. / 'Ali Geri)
> Qararo (Dhul. / Reer Khaliid)
* Hijacking *

11/11 Qararo (Dhul. / Reer Khaliid)
Balli Daaye (Isaaq / H. Je'elo)
Gaashamo (Isaaq / H.Yonis)

12/11 Gaashamo (Isaaq / H. Yonis)
Lanqeyrta (Isaaq / Arab)
Harshin (Isaaq / Habar Awal)
Hartisheikh (Isaaq / Habar Awal)
Qabri Beyah

13/11 Jigjiga

15/11 Addis Ababa


The comments and observations in this document represent the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations. Nor do the designations and presentation of material imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the UN concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area, of its authorities, or concerning the delimitations of its frontiers or boundaries.