A sad story on the deterioration of Puntland environment was related to me tonight by the Adviser of Puntland President, Abdirisaq Gawiido. After a brief visit to Galkayo, Gawiido has been raising an alarm on incidents he was briefed by Mudugh elders on the destructive environmental trends in the Region, and certainly, beyond it in Puntland State. These include wanton destruction by cutting down trees and massive commercial hunting of wild game in Mudugh and Burtinle areas. According to eyewitness report, one man alone has been spotted having a truckload of captured and slaughtered dik dik and antelopes in Galkayo. Similar stories were reported from the town of Burtinle in Nugaal Region. One dik dik is said to be sold under $1 to a displaced family in the yearly multiplying camps around Puntland urban centres.

Man-made environmental deterioration has no bounds in Puntland, perhaps, throughout Somalia. We hear horror stories of burning entire forest into charcoal in Jubaland with piles of sacks of coal at Kismayo Port for export to the Gulf states.

Destruction of fish habitat in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean by illegal foreign trawlers with worldwide banned fishing gears and dumping of industrial toxic wastes have been going on for decades now. Sea piracy was considered security threat to the rest of the world, but dumping of toxic waste is treated as local issue with indifference to the health hazards it posed to the local coastal communities.

What to do about it? For sure, there is no absence of laws on environmental protection in Puntland. These laws are collecting dust in the departmental shelves of the government of Puntland State and the House of Representatives. Laws, when unforced, do not exist. What you need here is a task force empowered to implement these laws, with attachment of experts and media campaign to bring awareness of the problem to the society, especially among the rural population. Puntland Ministry of the Environment should be activated with the formation of a task-force working closely with all levels of the government, including city councils to attend this existential threat on daily basis as a priority Puntland Government Environmental Policy. It is worth noting that even the Italian Colonial Administration then had a contingent of soldiers called “Duubcad” by the natives. They were tasked to keep the peace among the nomads and prevent environmental abuses.

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There are some suggestions on introducing new methods of making stables to the herd owners. Providing the nomadic population with barbed wires in stable-making to prevent cutting down trees is one option. Others advise for the construction of stables with the use of stone fence like they do in Sanaag.

If the environmental deterioration of Puntland is not reversed, this country would look like the Western Hemisphere country of Haiti, with its consequences of poverty, diseases and backwardness.

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