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Volunteers redouble efforts to restore Mogadishu's golden coast

Wednesday August 2, 2023


On Urubo, Liido and Sugunto Liido beaches, piles of debris cover the sand.

The pollution has scarred the landscape here in a place where people come, seeking a reprieve from the fighting between rival armed factions.

Now local people in this old port city are working together to clean up and reclaim their beaches.

They’re hoping that if the clean up is successful, renewed interest in the beach will again generate local tourism and help the city’s economy.

Many of the volunteers here are students, or people who work at universities.

It’s a grass roots movement, in which the young people in the city have taken the initiative.

They’ve been out here every week collecting the rubbish which blights the beauty of this coast and endangers marine life.

The work is already providing dividends, areas of the beach are once again shining in the sun.

Volunteer Maama Ugaaso says she’s been a regular at the beach clean-up sessions.

Ugaaso says young people are taking pride in their city.

"It is the 87th week that we have been cleaning the beaches. This is a voluntary activity where young graduates, lecturers, and other ordinary Somalis participate. Among the reasons why these young people are doing such wonderful work is that they understand the fact that this country belongs to no one but themselves," she says.

Organisers say so far 2 million kilogrammes of rubbish has been collected here.

That includedsdiscarded plastics which are harmful to marine life.

The beach had become a landfill, even disused vehicles were dumped here.

Now all the waste is taken to a government landfill on the outskirts of Mogadishu.

Arabow is calling for government assistance for the campaign to restore beaches.

He says: "Currently, we are conducting this clean-up campaign on our beaches and we are hoping to expand it to other beaches across the country. Also, a beach clean-up campaign like the one we've done in the Liido should be replicated throughout the country. We also have done some cleaning up work on beaches like Isaley, Jazeera, and other places, but God willing, I hope that this campaign will reach every place in the country in order to live in a rubbish-free country."

The main push is to involve young people who make up 75% of the country’s population.

Fisherman Hassan Mohamed says the work is important for the survival of the coastal region.

He says: "As a matter of fact, I am very proud of these young people who have volunteered to clean the beach. As fishermen, we also request that the government support these efforts as it is important to keep the living creatures in the sea healthy, as well as to promote tourism."

They received moral support from the public and government officials who endorsed their efforts to clean the beaches.

When the municipality of Mogadishu became aware of the beach restoration, they provided vehicles to help remove the rubbish.

Yaasir Baafo is an advisor to Somalia's tourism authority.

He believes when the volunteer efforts are bolstered by government policies, serious progress will be made.

Baafo believes it’s vital the environment is seen as a beneficial resource which can help revitalize the city and the country.

Pointing to old photos on his laptop he says: "It's really a breathtaking time, 1970s, 80s in Mogadishu as it was one of the most clean city in Africa, the most beautiful city in Africa. And when you look back at today what have been in Mogadishu, when we talk about the cleaning and the beach sites, so it's really totally different and that's what makes Mogadishu, people are still think about: how can we get back those glory and golden days of Mogadishu."

With a bit of work, the beautiful sand beaches can be uncovered once again.