Hassan* is a native of the region of Puntland who has returned temporarily with the QUESTS-MIDA project to contribute his skills and expertise to the greater benefit of the people of Puntland. Hassan is passionate about environmental conservation and has extensive training in forestry and wildlife management. Although he was living in North America for 20 years, he had been closely monitoring the situation in Somalia, especially the environmental degradation that has been going on.
As many Somalis in the diaspora have done, Hassan chose to travel to his homeland and get a first-hand account of the situation.
A few years ago, while visiting Puntland, he discovered that there was a dire need for primary and secondary schools in the region. Using his networks both in the diaspora as well as in Somalia, he raised the necessary resources to establish a school. Over the last few years, the school has continued to grow and is able to provide education for an ever-growing student population.
In 2010, as a successful business owner in North America, Hassan again decided to put his life on hold and go back to Puntland as a Natural Resource Management specialist for the QUESTS-MIDA project. Part of his assignment is to support holistic environmental thinking in combating desertification, controlling pollution, establishment of urban greening program, protecting endangered wildlife and plant species and fostering broad-based environmental education, training and awareness.
In the first six months of his assignment, Hassan has been working hard to build partnerships to mitigate the effects of deforestation in Puntland. Together with assistance from the International Organization for Migration, he has established the Garowe Tree Nursery and Arboretum. He has also developed a Tree Nursery Manual for Puntland and trained key staff on tree nursery management best practices. Hassan has also completed a progress report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which shows the progress that Puntland has made in promoting environmental sustainability.
In response to a question about the secret of his success, Hassan responds that "motivation is my only tool. It is hard to sustain continued transfer-of-knowledge without an incentive." During his initial interviews he vowed that "before my term ends the [institution] will have a proper strategic and action plan and hopefully a resource centre for studies and training as well as a tree nursery with trained staff." Although his assignment is for only one-year, Hassan has exceeded expectations by achieving most of the targets set for his assignment.
QUESTS-MIDA is honored to facilitate and highlight Hassan's contribution as a dedicated diaspora Somali sharing his technical knowledge to make Puntland a better place.