Working towards durable solutions for displacement-affected communities in Togdheer region, Somaliland

Ayan Mohamoud, Laura Hammond

Internal displacement is a key economic and social development concern in Somaliland. The increased frequency of severe droughts culminated in the third food emergency in a decade in 2023. In addition, the outbreak of armed conflict in eastern Somaliland, as well as more localised and smaller-scale communal violence in 2023, have led to fresh displacement to central Togdheer region, which has already been hosting displaced citizens for many years. Most displacement has been from rural areas to cities and towns. Living precariously in temporary settlements without adequate access to basic services and livelihood opportunities, internally displaced persons (IDPs) run a high risk of remaining in a state of limbo indefinitely without adequate support to achieve one of the three recognised durable solutions – return to their areas of origin, long-term and sustainable settlement in the areas that they have moved to, or relocation to a new and sustainable location. Somaliland’s ability to respond to new displacement, and to work towards securing durable solutions for those who have already been displaced or returned from refugee camps, is limited given competing priorities for scarce public funding, the challenges of identifying land for long-term settlement, and a policy environment that is only starting to address durable solutions comprehensively.

This study considers the prospects for the facilitation of durable solutions for IDPs living in Togdheer region, particularly in and around Somaliland’s second largest city, Burco. It considers the context of two important recent changes. First, an improved policy environment is being introduced, in the form of the new National Policy on Refugees and IDPs to guide efforts to achieve durable solutions. Second, a new structure for addressing the needs of IDPs – led by the National Displacement and Refugees Agency (NDRA) is being implemented at central and regional level.

Information provided in this report was obtained from 1 to 30 August 2023 in Togdheer region, as well as in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland. Interviews were held with government officials at central, regional and municipal level, as well as with nongovernmental staff and IDPs living in and around Burco. This followed preliminary fieldwork undertaken by a member of the team. Lessons learned from this study are aimed at advising the EU’s investments in durable solutions in Somaliland and at responding to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation throughout the region, as well as at supporting an inclusive approach to development and governance. Specifically, the study seeks to inform the implementation of the EU’s Boosting Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Change (BREACH) programme, which is being carried out in Togdheer.

The report finds that there is still a high level of centralisation involved in support efforts for IDPs. Planning, allocation of resources and project design are carried out centrally by NDRA and other responsible staff. At the regional level, staff are expected to carry out activities having had little or no say over how these are developed or, crucially, over targeting and assessment procedures. These efforts are complicated by the fact that there has not been a census or registration of IDPs in Togdheer region, making it difficult to carry out needs assessments. The result is that assistance cannot be efficiently targeted at the neediest and there are opportunities for aid resources to be mismanaged.

The report makes the following recommendations:

  1. Greater involvement of regional and municipal officials is needed in the design and targeting of support for IDPs. This should involve NDRA staff as well as municipal officials and relevant line department staff.
  2. A system of registration of IDPs, with provision of identity cards showing an individual’s and/or household’s entitlement to assistance, is needed to improve targeting of aid resources.
  3. Rather than the current significant focus on individual monthly cash payments, more focus on community-based assistance to all those living in displacement-affected communities, on the basis of need, is required. While some vulnerable individuals may continue to require cash support, preference should be given to supporting efforts towards self-sufficiency, in both urban and rural settings, for all who are in need, regardless of their displacement status.
  4. In the longer term, it will be important for regional officials to be able to make allocations of land ownership, and also to include upskilling for agropastoralists who have been displaced, so that they can establish sustainable livelihoods in their new locations.
  5. Where returns to agropastoral or pastoral areas may be feasible, regional authorities must work with the Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Planning and other relevant departments to help rehabilitate land affected by drought, deforestation and degradation to be able to support such returns.
  6. For those who have been displaced by conflict, return will depend on resolution of the present hostilities both in Togdheer and in the eastern Sool region. The needs of IDPs should be taken into consideration when negotiating a cessation of hostilities and a return to peaceful relations between communities.

You will need a PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat (downloadable from Adobe) to view PDF file(s).

Image source: Ayan Mahamoud

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *