|The former Parliament Building, devastated by war. Photo by Mitchell Sutika Sipus|
Today was a massively busy day for meetings.
I had a meeting with the Mayor and Govener of the Benadiir Administration, Mohamuud Ahmed Noor. We discussed his primary vision for the city and regional development, his trials and efforts in the past and the obstacles he faces today. Around this time I also met some traditional leaders and members of the Benadiir council working on a variety of USAID projects. I've been greatly impressed by his efforts and those of the Deputy Mayor, Iman Noor Icar with whom I've been meeting regularly. Aware of the issues of corruption in their country, they continually work with international donors so that no cash transactions take place, rather the donor has full responsibility for handling the funding while the administration simply provides the needed manpower to implement the projects. With this model, various initiatives in partnership with Turkey and USAID have been seeing great success.
Last night the urban planner working with Benadiir, Mohamed "Shaan", and I discussed at length the obstacles concerning data collection and mapping of the city. Although UN-Habitat has a large collection of data, unfortunately they are not willing to share direct shape files and thus their information is of no real use to the municipality. It is truly unfortunate that a UN body would pose such a hinderance to the efforts of the municipality. Yet thanks to open-source mapping technology and the efforts of my friends at Somalia Report, I believe I can thoroughly solve this problem so that we simply side-step the UN and do the work that needs to be done.
|Mitchell Sutika Sipus, Mohamed, and Abdul on the Somali Coast|
I also had a chance to explore some of the historic district of Mogadishu. We were escorted by a Captain in the African Union's peace keeping force and I was able to talk to him about his experience of fighting in Somalia. The wreckage in this area from 20 years of war is truly profound to see, but it left me thinking a great deal about all the other images of Mogadishu that never come out.
|Business is booming in the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia. Photo by Mitchell Sutika Sipus|
While the world constantly sees the destruction in Mogadishu, they don't get a chance to learn about the dynamic change abreast, the massive return of Somalis, the economic explosion taking place from new investments and the visionary work of the municipal government. Just today I had a cappuccino at a cafe founded by a Somali who lived for a long time in the UK. It was delicious. Things are happening and they are happening fast. This is story that is worth telling, it must be told.
|Travel Businesses on Mecca Marena Road. Photo by Mitchell Sutika Sipus|