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Reliving 10 Years of Heritage Institute in A Single Night
By Mohamed Mukhtar Ibrahim
Thursday December 8, 2022


“If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.”
-     Confucius

Recently, the Heritage Institute commemorated ten years of operations. The Institute celebrated its tenth anniversary in Djibouti by hosting its sixth Annual Forum for Ideas. The Forum is where decision-makers, scholars, and opinion leaders come together to discuss important issues impacting Somalis in the Horn of Africa. "Climate Change and Conflict in the Horn" was this year's subject. The Djiboutian government routinely hosts this function.

The ideal time to visit Djibouti is December, when temperatures are more relaxed than the remainder of the year. And, taking advantage of this near-perfect weather, the Heritage Institute has once more convened Somalis from all over the world to discuss new concerns in the Horn of Africa in cooperation with the Djibouti government. Astonishingly, a nation with just over one million people and a GDP per capita of USD 3,363 opens its doors, but it graciously continues to host this event annually.

This year's Forum for Ideas took place right after the Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Change Conference (COP 27), "where countries came together to take action towards achieving the world's collective climate goals." In contrast, the Heritage Institute’s event served as a scaled-down version of COP 27, where Somalis gathered to talk about the negative impacts of climate change through a local lens.

The Horn of Africa is currently suffering from one of the worst droughts in the region. Long-lasting droughts, shrinking grazing pastures, and a water deficit have made millions of already poor people in the Horn of Africa more vulnerable to severe hunger brought on by food insecurity brought on by low food production and animal loss. Years of turbulence, civil upheaval, clan wars, terrorism, and extremism in the area have made it more difficult for local communities to adapt to and deal with the new risks to their way of life posed by climate change. The ability of the regional states to address and respond to the new climate change challenges has been undermined by the need to focus on more pressing security challenges within and across the neighbouring borders.

Policy harmonisation tailored to country-specific settings, investment in alternative sources of livelihood beyond climate-dependent sources, and concerted efforts toward developing adaptive technologies and innovation are necessary for the region to overcome the impending challenges associated with climate change. While humanitarian assistance in the face of extreme hunger has improved the conditions of the local populace, it also ostensibly contributed to the overdependency syndrome, which has limited countries' ability to proactively position themselves to prevent better and address the effects of climate change. The region's nations are now concentrating on how they may profit from the millions of dollars spent attempting to protect the global populace from the environmental shocks associated with climate change.

Finally, a dinner sponsored by Heritage Institute marked the conclusion of the three-day gathering. Presidents Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Ismael Omar Guelleh were present to recognise the institute's commitment to the Horn of Africa's development. Exhilaration resulted from reliving ten years of Heritage Institute in one evening, and Abdirahman Aynte's speech brought back happy memories. Instead of non-Somali academics describing the daily lives of ethnic Somalis, Aynte said it is fulfilling to witness Somali experts discussing the experiences of Somali people. The dinner event provided the ideal chance to acknowledge the Heritage team's dedication. Additionally, the fact that the two founders (Abdirahman and Abdirashid) celebrate together shows that they have developed a bond that results in even greater success.

Mohamed Mukhtar Ibrahim
[email protected]


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