The Mayor of Mogadishu goes networking

From left: Amjad Abbashar, UNISDR head of office for Arab States with the Mayor of Mogadishu, Mohammed Ahmed Nur, at the First Arab Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Aqaba yesterday.
 
By Denis McClean

AQABA, 22 March 2013 - The Mayor of Mogadishu has got a result. After two tiring days traveling from his ruined city, Mohammed Ahmed Nur, was confident that something good would come out of the networking opportunity provided by the First Arab Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction organized by UNISDR and partners this week.

It wasn't something he spotted in the recommendations on a revised Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA2) or a clause in the text of the Arab Declaration on Disaster Risk Reduction in Cities.

Having sat through several stimulating presentations ranging across the whole spectrum of disaster risk management in the region, yesterday the Mayor heard something which could be of real value to him.

Almost as soon as Colonel Marwan Sumiat had finished delivering his presentation on the work of the Jordanian Civil Defence, he was approached by Mr. Nur to see if he could help him to create an operational fire brigade service in the Somali capital for the first time in over twenty years.

"My main thing is networking. One of my networking successes was today," said Mayor Nur who is also the Governor of Banadir Province. "I met the man from the Civil Defence of Jordan and asked him if he could train a number of Somali fire-fighters and he said yes. He will arrange that and if he does that it will be a great achievement for me."

Colonel Sumiat who is Director of Planning and Organization confirmed that Jordan Civil Defence, the country's HFA focal point, will indeed support the training of Somali fire fighters. "We will be happy to do it," he said, proving again Jordan's willingness to lend a helping hand to the less fortunate in the region, including almost 500,000 Syrian refugees.

There hasn't been a municipal fire engine or ambulance on the streets of the Somali capital for over 20 years. Just two years in office, Mayor Nur went to the UK city of Leicester last year where he managed to get a donation of three second hand fire engines and three ambulances.

His passion for his job extends to ignoring the constant threat of assassination. "I can only die once. Nobody can advance that day and nobody can delay it so why should I worry," he says.

Mayor Nur hopes one day to see Mogadishu reach the same level of those municipalities across the region who delivered a raft of recommendations on disaster risk reduction this week in Aqaba including building and restoring infrastructure to reduce disaster risks.

For him that prompts the following reflection. "We are a city that has lost everything, all the infrastructure has been destroyed. Basic services are not there. I'm fascinated when they talk about disaster risk reduction but I have three basic priorities and these are clean water for the people of Mogadishu, to build roads and provide energy for development. We have the most expensive electricity on the face of the earth.

"All the conference points are relevant but there are limitations for us. Now is the right time to help Somalia. People are fed up with conflict even if they tried, no warlord can start or instigate a war now."

He left his country as young student activist in the '70s having been jailed three times under the dictatorship of Siad Barre. Since his return home he has organized the first rubbish collection and street lighting in Mogadishu in 20 years. Resilience could be his middle name. His email address is mohanur@mogadishucity.net and he is open for business.
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