Burao: Togdheer: Somaliland


Burao is the second largest city in Somaliland. It has an estimated population of between 350,000 and 400,000 people. It is a very important commercial centre in the region, containing the largest livestock market that brings together traders from as far as Bossaso in the North East of Somalia, Luq, bordering Kenya in the South, Ethiopia and Djibouti in the West.


Rebuilding From the Ruins


Like many other cities in the Country, Burao suffered from destruction and internal displacement due to a prolonged civil war in the 1980s. In 1988, almost all its residents were either killed or forced to flee to refugee camps in Ethiopia. When those lucky ones who survived came back to Burao in 1991, they returned to a ghost town striped of almost everything of value that could be moved or removed. Almost all the dwellings in the city were either roofless or without windows, or both. Also, many of them were left in ruins, and the streets were overcome by natural vegetation in the absence of a human population for nearly three years. Public resources or facilities, including schools, were not spared destruction. Before the civil war, the town boasted of one of the top technical schools in East Africa, and a vocational school for range management. Both were national institutions. It also had two main secondary schools (Sh. Bashir, and Sh. Osman Nur). All of these institutions 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 conflicts, 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 in Somaliland.


Burao Today


Today, if you visit Burao, you will find a remarkable town bustling with activity. The city has now enjoyed many years of fairly uninterrupted peace. There is a strong sense of community and a determination to rebuild what has been destroyed. This has created an environment 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 Burao’s primary and secondary schools have been already rebuilt, renovated or restored, with new private institutions being formed regularly in response to demand for quality education. The first class graduated from Burao secondary schools in 2003 and many more students in the years since then.


The University of Burao (UoB), a community based higher education was established in 2004 in response to the question of what to do with these young secondary school leavers. Since 2004 UoB has been striving to bring quality higher education to the people of Burao, Togdheer and surrounding regions