August 2020- The Shelter Cluster, Camp Management and Camp Coordination Cluster (CCCM) and UN-Habitat Somalia have come up with a framework that provides the overall guidance for the decongestion and upgrading of  Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) settlements to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “With congestion being one of the main environs conducive for the transmission of COVID-19, the establishment of these settlement guidelines has drawn the attention of many stakeholders working with Internally Displaced persons (IDPs). IDP camps, being densely occupied increase the risk of transmitting the virus,” said Sophos Sophianos, Midnimo project programme manager.

 He added: “we will apply these guidelines in the IDP camps we work in both in Beledwenye under the Midnimo project and in Mogadishu under the EU-Reinteg Project.”

UN Habitat, within the framework of Midnimo II project, took lead in drafting the decongestion guidelines which was an initiative of the UN Peace Building Fund. UN-Habitat has been an active member of the Shelter Cluster, actively advocating for decent housing. 

Somalia has 2.6 million IDPs who live in more than 2,000 crowded living sites in urban and semi-urban areas with limited access to quality essential healthcare, water and sanitation services. COVID-19 also poses challenges in terms of access to basic services.

Decongestion, involves reducing the human density in the IDP settlements in order to maintain social distance which will in turn reduce the likelihood of the virus transmission.

This decongestion guidance note explores approaches to decongestion emphasizing on the need to engage the community for a successful decongestion exercise, and highlights the place of camp leaders  and camp governance committees when it comes to infrastructure  mapping and rearrangement needs.

 A standard operating procedures framework was also developed outlining activity steps that partners should adhere to for successful site decongestion exercises.  In the wake of the pandemic, it was noted that the inclusion of Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and protection partners was paramount during site decongestion activities.

The Shelter Cluster together with CCCM cluster will update SOPs based on learnings from the field as necessary.