In March, UN-HABITAT agreed with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency to construct schools for 2,000 school-age internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mogadishu. The initiative accesses unused funds from the project entitled Improvement of Living Conditions of IDPs in Jowhar, Baidoa, and Mogadishu, Somalia. The Somalia programme moved rapidly to locate and assess sites with NGO partner SAACID, produce a high quality and cost-effective design, and conclude an agreement with UNICEF to manage the schools as part of their Emergency Education Initiative. This pilot project is an IDP component of the UN Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralized Service Delivery’s Participatory District Rehabilitation in Mogadishu Project.
Suitable sites with the necessary district authority guarantees were identified in Shingani, Hodan, Waberi, Dharkenely, and Wadajir Districts. In total, the subcontracted companies built 25 classrooms, providing access to education to 2,000 children in 2 shifts; the estimated number of indirect beneficiaries is 14,000. The classrooms were provided with essential furniture, as well as blackboards and storage space. Each school has appropriate sanitation facilities, with between five and ten toilets.
The school design uses a modular structure based on the concept that one classroom (7.5 meters by 8.4 meters) will provide space for 40 students. The design allows the flexible addition of classrooms depending on the individual site. A standard type school consists of a minimum three classrooms and a sanitation block. The school typology is kept simple and functional: a row of classrooms with a covered front veranda serving as access area to the classrooms, combined with long benches that provide a social and interactive space for the children. The classrooms and open veranda are oriented towards a common courtyard that serves as playground.
To keep costs low and allow for optimum light and cross-ventilation, classroom openings were filled with local ventilation stones. Their quality lies in their ability to block direct sunlight while diffusing the transmitted light harmoniously inside the room. To increase functionality with simple, low-cost measures, each classroom is provided with a hollow-block bookshelf along the back wall and timber lining along the walls at children’s eye level for the hanging of pictures, posters, and other items.
The permanency of the newly constructed IDP schools is a huge improvement on the tents and semi-permanent buildings that were used previously, and contributes to the process of rehabilitating and rebuilding the Somali capital. The project, which was the first of its kind, demonstrated that UN-HABITAT could build quality infrastructure swiftly while carefully involving the local authorities and communities in a thorough land identification process. Key to the quick implementation was the track record and ready availability of UN-HABITAT and its partners in the field, established through the Participatory District Rehabilitation in Mogadishu Project.