Somalia village offers hope

El Bur shows that lasting stability is possible in the stricken African country.

    El Bur's hospital has fallen into disrepair and is
    now used by refugees for shelter
    Somalia is a hard and hostile environment, in which little seems able to thrive.

     

    The war that raged here more than 15 years ago has left its mark across the country and the village of El Bur still feels its effect.

     

    El Bur's hospital was built in 1990 but was never really used.

     

    It was abandoned during the war in 1991 and, since, then has accommodated only passing refugees.

     

    In this community of tens of thousands of people there is no medical centre whatsoever.

     

    But life goes on. Away from the violence in Mogadishu that continually seizes the headlines is another reality.

     

    With no central government and no outside assistance, the people of El Bur still cope.

     

    Sustained peace

     

    El Bur's economy is basic but works. Water taken from a local well costs 2,000 shillings a barrel, and is then is sold in the market for 8,000 shillings.

     

    It costs the owner of cows or camels 1,000 shillings for each animal that comes to the well to drink. Money changes hands - an economy is in place.

     

    But what has particularly marked El Bur is the peace that has been in place for the last two two years.

     

    Regional clan leaders agreed a lasting
    peace, to the benefit of El Bur
    Frustrated at the lack of central government and angered at the endless violence, people here tried to do something for themselves.

      

    The leaders of the region's three major clans came together and forged a peace.

     

    They formed a governing committee with representatives from each clan, maintaining a sense of order they say that had also been found under the short lived control of the Union of Islamic Courts.

     

    It's a lesson these elders believe for all Somalia.

     

    "I can truly say that only the Somali people can solve Somalia's problems. Outside forces cannot solve them. All the Somali people should come together like we have here," said Mohamud Hassam, governing committee chairman.

     

    The armed men are still in evidence, but the difference is that they are under the control of the governing committee, not the individual clans. They are, in effect, an irregular police force.

     

    The huge influx of refugees from the conflict in Mogadishu has added to the myriad of problems faced by those in this region.

     

    And yet the one thing that will be found here is peace, and a glimmer of hope for the whole country.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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