“When I can move into this new house, it will change my whole life. I will have a door to close behind me. My children can have a clean and safe environment. As a woman, I feel that finally I can have dignity,” said Deka Ahmed Mahamad (20).
She has a smile on her face, baby Abdi in her arms, and a firm look at her two year old son who is playing on the dusty ground. Deka never got the chance to go to school herself, but now she dares to dream of a brighter future for her children.
At the onset of the civil war in Somalia in the early 1990s, Deka’s family fled to Ethiopia where they stayed in a refugee camp. After ten years in Ethiopia, the family moved back to Somaliland. But then there where no place to call home anymore and Deka settled in a camp for internally displaced people, that continues to host thousands of displaced living in tents or ‘buuls’ with no durable solution in sight.
Lack of access to land and permanent shelter is one of the biggest challenges for the 1.4 internally displaced people in Somalia. Many displaced people are forced to pay fees to private landlords, and risk being evicted to new settlements without any service provision.
“It is a happy day when NRC can contribute to provide durable solutions for people who have been displaced for many years. It is very difficult to access land for displaced people in Somalia, but in this case the local Burao government has donated land for 50 permanent houses that will benefit 350 people,” said NRC Area Manager Boisy Williams.
NRC welcomes positive signals from the Burao Government to contribute to the construction of even more permanent shelter.
“As long as we get access to land and secure tenure, NRC stands ready to provide more permanent shelter like these brick houses for displaced people across Somalia. The majority of our shelter interventions are tents or shelter made by corrugated iron sheets. These are important to ensure immediate protection but their lifespan is short in this harsh climate,” explained Williams.
Active community participation
The recipient community has been heavily involved in the project. The homes consist of two rooms and outdoor space measuring 144 square metres. NRC is providing the design, tools, materials and training for the locally recruited labourers, many from the displaced communities and others from the host community. The local Somaliland government authorities have provided sand, water, labourers and security for the materials on site; equivalent of a total of USD600 for each shelter.
It is the first time that the Somaliland authorities have provided such direct financial support to a shelter project. The rest of the shelter project is funded by the Japanese government through UNHCR, whereas ECHO has funded the latrine construction.
By Christian Jepsen and Astrid Sehl (Alert net).