‘There’s no future in this IDP camp’ – Why Somalia’s Crisis Needs a Rethink

August 2023
M. Gabobe, A. Ahmed Aden and O. Anyadike. (The New Humanitarian)

This news feature piece from The New Humanitarian takes a close look at the land and resettlement needs of Somalia’s numerous IDP camp residents. The authors observe that three decades of conflict and humanitarian disasters have contributed to rapid urbanisation, with more than four million people, roughly a quarter of Somalia’s total population, having been displaced at least once. Most IDPs have ended up in overcrowded informal settlements in the capital, Mogadishu, and in other major towns, ramping up urban and peri-urban land issues. The authors argue that such informal settlements need to be thought of as permanent settlements, with initiatives in urban planning, infrastructure and tenure rights all required to make that feasible. However, there is a lack of donor funding for pilot projects to address these issues. People’s tenure security is influenced by the type of informal settlement they end up. There are two main types around Mogadishu, one longer established and in abandoned government buildings or private land in the city centre, the other more recent displacement camps on the city’s outskirts. The latter are managed informally by ‘gate-keepers’. Different clans, militias and businessmen have to be negotiated with across the city in any efforts to find durable solutions for the IDPs, and care has to be taken not to increase land values to the point where evictions will occur. Pastoralists who have lost their animals have no future but to stay in the cities, but some of those working with the IDPs still favour returning to be the best long-term option for farmers.