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Gedo (Somali: Geedo, Arabic: جوبا الوسطى) is an administrative region (gobol), formerly part of the historic Upper Juba Region in southern Somalia. Its regional capital is Garbahaarreey. Gedo is a region created in 1980s and is bordered by the Ogaden in Ethiopia, the North Eastern Province in Kenya, and the Somali regions of Bakool, Bay, Jubbada Dhexe (Middle Juba), and Jubbada Hoose (Lower Juba) further down east. The southern parts of Gedo, west of the Jubba River, used to be part of the old British Transjuba region during half of the seventy years of colonial era in Africa from 1890 to 1960. The British and Italians fought over twice in this area of Horn of Africa. Gedo region's population exploded in the last twenty years reaching almost one million in the early 1990s after the civil war erupted in Mogadishu.
Most of the newcomers to the region, suddenly left and resettled different parts of world. This immigration made Buuloxaawo the second largest district in Gedo. Luuq used to be the second largest city and district after Bardera. At one time Buuloxaawo District was the largest city and district in the region.
The population in Beled Haawo swelled to 200,000. This was in the early 1990s, when a large number of Mogadishu's residents settled Beled Haawo town, because of its cosmopolitan and proximity to the Kenyan border.
Early 1990s came the rise of al-Itihaad al-Islamiya (AIAI) led by Sheikh Mohamed Haji Yussuf a well known Gedo native. Soon after. Al Itihad group spread through the region Ethiopian Government accused AIAI for supporting the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and other insurgents inside Ethiopia.
Al Itihad, an armed militia group, started acting as the government of three districts in Gedo: Luuq, Beled Hawo and Dolow. They took over government services such as district courts, schools, police posts and other administrative offices.
Al Itahad gaining power in Gedo and elsewhere in Somalia led to the Ethiopian invasion of Gedo in 1996. New civil war erupted in the region. The intra-Marehan clan fighting follewed starting in 1997 after the pro-Ethiopian and anti-Ethiopian clans were left fill the power vacuum left by the Al Itahad.
After years of unrest in the region, in 2004, clan elders and intellectuals called for and convened peace conference in the region's capital Garbahaarreey. One of the agreements of the conference was to hold free and fair elections within three years.
- El-Ade District
- El-Waq District
- Baardheere District
- Balet Hawo District
- Doolow District
- Garbahaarreey District
- Luuq District
The regional capital is Garbahaarreey. Major rivers in the Gedo region include the Dawa and the Juba. The Dawa River runs on the border between Ethiopia and the Gedo region.
Doolow town is located along the Dawa. The Juba River starts from Doolow, just north of the Luuq District, then flows to Buurdhuubo, Bardera, then Bu'aale and Jilib of the Middle Juba region, until the river empties into the Indian Ocean at Goobweyn. There is a clear and seemingly permanent separation between the two colours where the red river outflow meets the blue ocean waters.
The city of Garbahaarreey, the Gedo Region Capital, and the regions two ancient cities of Luuq and Bardera had education systems up to secondary level. There were some technical schools in Bardera and Garbaharreey, albeit without curriculum. All of Gedo region's high school graduates attended the Somali National University or affiliated institutions in Mogadishu.
Since the civil war in Somalia, Gedo became one of half dozen regions which have restarted higher education institutions in the country. Bardera Polytechnic, Gedo's first college, and University of Gedo, are both located in Bardera.
According to a 1994 United Nations reports, the estimated population of Gedo was 590,000. According to the nomadic culture of the people and their movement these numbers can decrease or increase over time. Large cities such as Bardera, Beled Hawo, and Luuq have sizable populations; most of the urban dwellers live in these cities plus the capital region area in the town of Garbahaarreey.
The most populous towns in Gedo are Bardera and Beled Haawo (Balad Xaawo or Buulo Xaawo). Beled Haawo is Gedo's commercial gateway as well as that of neighboring regions, while Bardera is Gedo's breadbasket. Agricultural products from Bardera's fertile lands, which include maize, potatoes, sorghum, tobacco, onions, sesame, fruits such as papayas, mangoes, watermelons and bananas, are shipped to many different parts of the country.
Commerce in the Gedo region like most of Jubaland, is mostly dependent on two sectors: agriculture and livestock. A growing third sector is the services sector, mainly financial and telecommunications industries. Those who live on the fringes of district seats or outside of large cities such as Garbahaarreey, Bardera, Luuq and Beled Haawo, generally keep either a farm on the river banks or herds of sheep, camel or cattle. There are significant farmers around towns and cities alongside the Jubba River and this has made close to half of the region's population, city dwellers since the breakout of the civil war in 1991.
The economy mostly depends on livestock and farming but the Gedo region has strong interregional and international cross-border trade with Kenya and some extent with Ethiopia. Trade between Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia allowed the Gedo region to be econonomically stable for the years before the UN intervention and afterwards. 1998 Nordic Fact Finding Mission prepared a report in Gedo region and found some encouraging economic figures. Davidson College assistant professor, Keneth Menkhaus asserted that, "Traders in Gedo region made more profit than, for instance, those in Hargeisa, in north-western Somalia." Trade going through the border between the three countries were ongoing despite the raging civil war in Somalia for much of the 1990.
The town of Beled Hawo is the commercial gateway to Mogadishu and parts of Kenya. Large manufactured goods cross both sides of the border everyday going to and coming from the rest of Somalia. Buuloxaawo is part of Beled Hawo, Luuq, and Doolow Tri-District commerce activity region. Both Luuq and Doolow have sizable agriculture output.
The Gedo region is famous for its agricultural production in the south. The farming land is mostly concentrated in four towns and these are Doolow, Luuq, Buurdhuubo and Bardera. During the peace years, produce from Bardera farms used to reach as far north to Djibouti on the Gulf of Aden.
Roads, airports and other infrastructure
Jubaland's longest highway, Highway 3, cuts through major section of Gedo region starts from Beled Hawo and passes Garbaharey to Bardera and then to other Jubaland regional towns like Buale in Middle Juba all the way to Kismayo the capital of Jubaland .
Gedo region's main airports include Garbaharey and Bardera Airports. Neither airport has a paved runway. Garbaharey Airport was close to getting paved in 2008 but local conflicts halted that progress. Bardera Dam Project which got funding during feasibility study, was abandoned shortly after the civil war started in Somalia.
The region has a 32 member assembly body. The members are directly elected from the 7 districts of the region with proportionality according to district population. The Gedo assembly or (Gollaha Gobalka Gedo) works around recently crafted regional constitution. The governor appoints all regional level posts including:
- First and second Assistant Governor
- Director of Security Services
- Director of Education Services
- Director of Agricultural Agency
- Gedo Regional Army Commander
- Gedo Regional Police Commander
- Director of Economic Affairs
- Livestock and Forestry Dept. Director
- Director of Justice and Religious Affairs
- Inter-Regional Affairs Director
After long conflicts in the region, the regional elders started peace conference with initiatives from then governor, Aden Ibrahim Aw Hirsi. This Gedo Region peace efforts ended in success. and were followed by the elections of the regional assembly. The process was financed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Geography and habitat
The Gedo region has one of the most varied scenery in Somalia. Parts of the Gedo region, such as the Daawo region, have rocky mountains, while red sand is found in all areas and white sand dunes across the Jubba Valley. There are flat lands in northwestern Bardera District at Gelgel Prairre. In the middle of the region, one finds ancient scarred land with gorges in all directions and rocky mountains. These gorges are filled with southeasterly direction downstream rain waters. On the lower southern portion of the Gedo region is red sandy flat land, running from the Bardera District on the Juba Valley, all the way west to El Wak town on the border with Kenya's North Eastern Province, a district mainly populated by Somalis through the ages.
There are plenty of the four most popular Somali livestock roaming the land. These are camels, cattle, goats, and sheep. In the Somali language, camel, cattle, goats, and sheep are called geel, lo', ari cad and iddo, respectively. A mixture of goats and sheep are normally herded together. This mixture of livestock is called ari in Somali and means a mixture of goats and sheep, which in most cases, is in the hundreds per family. Similarly, the Gedo region is famous for its horse breeding. Large numbers of horses can be found on the Beled Haawo flat lands and Dirharra area near the town of Damase in the Elwak District.
About 40 km (25 mi) from the region's capital, Garbahaarreey, towards Beled Haawo, are the Humbaale Mountain which has the highest peak in all the mountains and hills in Gedo region. To have a feel of how high this mountain is, coming from Bardera and going to Garbahaareey, at the top of Waamo Yarey Hill, from here, you can see Humbaale Mountain peak. At this stage you will be around 140 km (87 mi) away from the mountain, and you will be around 100 km (62 mi) from Garbahaarreey. There is a distance of 130 km (81 mi) between Garbahaarreey and Baardheera. Humbaale Mountain is located 40 km (25 mi) northwest of Garbahaarreey and it will be 20 km (12 mi) off-road on the road to Beled Haawo.
The mountain areas of Gedo region have sizable safari animals from elephants to cheetahs. It is not rare to hear lions roar during the night hours. Lions, ostriches, oryx, giraffes, warthogs and hyenas are plenty around the grassy lands of the western part of the Bardera District, between the towns of Gerileey and Fafahdun. This is in Gelgel Prairies (Banka Gelgel) in Somalia or simply Gelgel (Gelgesha).
Cities and towns
Bardera and Beled Haawo cities are the two principal cities of the Gedo region. In the recent past, Luuq or Lugh used to be the main political city of Gedo Region but the Somali Civil War made many of the city's residents to flee to other towns.
Bardera, the largest city and the seat of the most populous district in Gedo, has become urbanized to the extent that its population multiplied 400% since the breakdown of law and order in the capital of the country, Mogadishu. Aside from the urban population in proper Bardera, the rest of the region's population are pastoralists with the exception of people living in the cities where the region's seven district seats are located. The town is home to Bardera Polytechnic as well as the University of Gedo which also has a campus at Beled Haawo.
- Districts of Somalia
- "UNDOS (United Nations Development Office for Somalia) Regional Report: Gedo Region" (PDF). Global Information Networks in Education (GINIE). Archived from the original on 2006-09-22. Retrieved 2010-11-23. "Gedo region lies to the west of Mogadishu. It is bordered on the East by Bay and Bakool regions, on the West by Kenya with Middle Juba and Ethioph to the South and North, respectively. It is made up of six districts: Bardera, Garbaharey, El Wak, Belet Hawa, Dolo and Luuq, with a population estimated around 590,000. It is dominated mainly by the Marehan clan, but includes also the Rahanweyn, Ogaden, Harti clans and some Bantu. The majority of the population are nomad-pastoralists. Livestock production and farming constitute the main economic activity."
- Report of the Nordic fact-finding mission to the Gedo region in Somalia