Somalia remains at the epicentre of one of the world’s largest displacement crises, with almost 2.1 million men, women and children living in displacement. An estimated 943,000 people have been forced out of their homes due to drought and 172,000 due to conflict since the beginning of 2017. Additionally, thousands more have returned from living in refuge in Yemen and Dadaab in neighbouring Kenya. Internally displaced persons and refugee returnees often seek refuge in cities, where security and safety nets cater for some of the immediate needs, but where they also additionally stretch already scarce resources, making coexistence tenuous.
Conflict and climate induced crises have confronted the Somali authorities with significant challenges by causing an unprecedented increase in the numbers of displaced persons migrating to cities. These extremely vulnerable people face marginalization and the possibility of ending up in protracted displacement. Increased marginalisation and social exclusion have, in many instances in Somali history, led to conflict. In addition, in areas affected by displacement, land use and access to land rights often become ground for disputes. Disputes usually arise because of the lack of legal provisions and tenure security, and displaced populations are particularly exposed to conflict and risks of rights violations.
To address these issues, the Government of Somalia has included finding durable solutions for displaced persons, as well as refugee returnees and host communities, as one of its priorities in its National Development Plan. The Federal Government, Federal Member States, and the International Community, have a shared responsibility to provide durable solutions for displaced populations. The challenge has been to do so in a way that not only meets their needs in the short run without doing harm, but more importantly to also provide them with sustainable options for (re)integration and peaceful coexistence with host communities.
To support durable solutions in areas impacted by displacement and returns, IOM and UN HABITAT, under the joint Midnimo programme, have supported municipal authorities and government departments to account for the needs and priorities of the entire community in the target districts it works in. The Midnimo project has done so by forming Core Facilitation Teams, with both displaced persons and host community representatives, as well as Member State, Regional, District and municipal authorities. This approach, has not only built a relation between the host and displaced communities, but has also set in motion the rebuilding of the trust between state institutions and its citizens. So far, Community Action Plans have been developed for Baidoa and Kismayo.
Kismayo’s first ‘Community Action Plan’ was launched in October 2017 by local authorities and community representatives. Developed by and for the displacement-affected communities, the first-of-its-kind plan intends to improve the communities’ living conditions by focusing on their specific needs. The Community Action Plans offer district authorities a tool to coordinate development interventions in their area, and through that they strengthen authorities’ capacity, presence and ultimately legitimacy toward the population. As a result, partners such as GIZ (the German Development Agency), UNDP, IOM, UN HABITAT, WFP, Mercy Corps, CARE International expressed commitment to support through their programmes the priorities of the Community Action Plans. The project has looked at normative and legislative aspects of the land sector. Land and City Planning consultations have brought together authorities, community and customary leaders to collectively craft a vision for the development of the cities of Kismayo and Baidoa, where tenure security for the most vulnerable results in strengthened tenure security for all.
Other significant activities involve the provision of spaces to promote a culture of peace and social reconciliation. Previously held in Baidoa, and now in Kismayo, a community art and culture event was hosted and attracted over 70 members of the public from displaced persons, returnees, and host communities.
Looking ahead, the Midnimo programme will expand to six additional districts in Jubbaland and South West State starting with Dollow and Xudur respectively – stay tuned to find out more about area-based peacebuilding in the coming months!
The Midnimo Programme is implemented by IOM and UN-Habitat, thanks to funding from the UN Trust Fund for Human Security and the UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF).