Kismayo, 26 March 2019—UN-Habitat on Monday officially handed over 79 houses and a community centre to a section of residents of Kismayo in Somalia. The project was executed under the Swedish funded Innovative Solutions for Displacement in Somalia Project.

The 74 standard houses, five proto-type houses and a community centre forming part of Midnimo Village were constructed under an arrangement between UN-Habitat and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). Adjacent to the site, UNHCR and Care International have constructed houses for IDPs so that the new area provides a home for more than 350 households.

Addressing the jubilant beneficiaries, the Director General for the Ministry of Interior, Adan Garane committed to ensure inclusive approach to planning that captures the needs of the communities served in Kismayo. 

“Within the framework of the government-led Somalia Durable Solutions Initiative, the project focused on fostering localized approaches and to better engage local actors and communities in the search for durable solutions to ensure ownership, local relevance and social cohesion,” he said.

On his part, The Officer in Charge of UN-Habitat’s Somalia Programme Ishaku Maitumbi, echoed these sentiments and further emphasised UN-Habitat’s commitment to approaches that intervene at a larger scale and enhance support provided to settlements stating that the agency’s commitment continues “with the formation of local community action groups to engage the new settlers in further area improvements that will amongst other things improve accessibility and connectivity.”

The Innovative Solutions project is in many ways a precursor to many durable solutions programmes that the UN has promoted and funded since 2016/17.  The concepts piloted through this investment have not only allowed for increasing the prospects of scalability of the pilot in Somalia but have also been adapted to other contexts. 

Displacement movements following the 2017 drought have accelerated rapid urbanisation in Somalia. The country has experienced one of the world’s largest displacement crises with almost one million registered refugees in the Horn of Africa and around 2.6 million internally displaced. The majority of IDPs live in urban environments and protracted displacement is therefore largely an urban challenge. Most IDPs prefer to locally integrate and do not intend to return to their places of origin. Therefore, solving issues around housing and land is critical.

The Innovative Solutions project funded by the Embassy of Sweden was designed to address these challenges and the increasing number of displacements and returnees through utilizing an innovative approach that could also test the applicability for further up-scaling in cities across Somalia. The project contributes to attaining durable solutions for the displacement affected populations in Mogadishu and Kismayo by giving IDPs tenure security through rental schemes in Mogadishu and housing construction in Kismayo.

In the case of Mogadishu, a pilot approach for rental subsidies sought creative solutions for addressing the violations of housing land and property rights often faced by the displaced through forced evictions while housing construction in Kismayo ensured security for vulnerable communities through an integrated planning approach that is in line with the strategic and sustainable urban development frameworks. The project was able to successfully deliver these objectives completing the first pilot on tenure security to have ever been conducted in Somalia, with 80 households securing employment and tenure security through a rental subsidy scheme in Mogadishu.