>Hi, this is Rob Sarjant, Head of Programmes and Operations at Book Aid International, reporting directly from Somaliland on our work here.
After a day spent in traffic-choked Nairobi visiting Kenya National Library Service and the Slums Information and Development Resource Centres (sadly, their main library burnt down earlier this year and needs a lot of support), I took a small EC plane or ECHO flight this morning to Hargeisa, Somaliland. Whilst here, I will assess our book donation support and deliver a workshop for teacher librarians. Book Aid International works closely with the Africa Educational Trust who heve a local office here and have helped establish many libraries.
This is my first visit to Somaliland which, though officially a part of Somalia in the eyes of the world, sees itself as very much an independent state. It has been operating that way fairly successfuly and peacefully for over 15 years, but it is a fledgling state. Libraries are seen as one way to help rebuild and support the country.
Over the next couple of days I will be travelling out from the capital, to two towns, Berbera and Borama, to see the libraries there. Although Somaliland is peaceful, it is still recommended to travel with armed guards – when studying to become a librarian many years ago, I would never have expected this!