Recommendations for addressing drought displacement in Somalia

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Somalia is one of the countries most heavily affected by internal displacement, with more than 2.6 million internally displaced people (IDPs) at the end of 2019.1 Many of these IDPs were displaced as a result of conflict and violence, but many more were displaced during disasters, including floods and drought. In addition to human suffering and insecurity, internal displacement was estimated to have cost the country 21.5 per cent of its GDP, or $1 billion in 2019.2 It is not only a humanitarian priority but also a challenge for socioeconomic development.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) embarked on a research programme in December 2018 to investigate internal displacement associated with slowonset disasters and environmental change.3 As part of that programme, Somali-speaking local enumerators collected quantitative and qualitative data in October 2019 in the cities of Burco in Togdheer region, Galkayo in Mudug and Qardho in Bari to examine displacement associated with drought.4 The objectives of the study were to investigate the interplay between different drivers and drought in triggering displacement from rural to urban areas, as well as to provide a better understanding of conditions and priorities for local integration and returns. The overall goal was to support policy and programming for durable solutions.
Amid growing needs and the risk of future displacement resulting from drought, IDMC engaged with key humanitarian actors in Somalia to identify recommendations for addressing the issue more efficiently. Building on the study conducted in July 2019, a workshop was organized in November 2020.

This paper presents the key recommendations resulting from that workshop. Participants identified areas for different types of interventions, illustrated in the map below. These include climate-sensitive agriculture and innovative, climate-related solutions for seeds and production. They also include naturebased solutions, such as permaculture and regreening, in areas outside of urban centres that receive less attention (in blue); the provision of safety nets, skills training, drought insurance schemes, small business grants and unconditional cash transfers in urban areas with high numbers of IDPs (in yellow); and assessments to determine levels of tenure security, the generation of title deeds for land and the provision of specialized legal aid services in informal settlements and urban IDP sites (in orange).

Four challenges were discussed during the workshop and are analysed in the following sections:

  1. Drought forces many farmers and pastoralists to relocate to urban areas in search of alternative livelihoods;

  2. Most IDPs live in precarious conditions in urban and peri-urban settlements and camps;

  3. Evictions are one of the main triggers of secondary displacement in cities and a major obstacle to durable solutions;

  4. IDPs’ desire to integrate locally conflicts with host communities’ limited absorption capacity