Over the last five years, UN-HABITAT, in collaboration with the Government of Puntland State of Somalia, has helped improve the lives of 18,022 people in Puntland. In Bossaso, Garowe, Xaafuun, and now in Galkayo, UN-HABITAT has planned new settlements, constructed permanent shelters, and upgraded existing settlements. At the beginning of this year, the Government of Japan donated USD 1.5 million to the UN-HABITAT Somalia Programme for the construction of low-cost houses and sanitation facilities for the Tawakal community of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Galkayo, to be completed by December 2011.
The Tawakal IDP community consists of 532 returnee families who fled from southern Somalia due to armed conflict and the lack of livelihoods. The families jointly purchased a piece of land, now called Tawakal, located 4 kilometres from Galkayo. Despite being well-organized, the 6-year-old IDP community still live in self-made shelters erected with sticks, cloth, plastic, and iron sheets. Different organizations have provided piped water points, latrines, tents, and a small primary school. However, the community is still mired in extreme poverty due to very limited access to livelihood opportunities. Most families survive through keeping animals or engaging in casual labour in town.
During planning workshops in 2010, UN-HABITAT helped the community formalize their vision of developing their settlement into a well-functioning village. Improving the housing situation was a top priority; it would protect residents from the harsh climate, but also protect women from physical violence, as incidences of rape in the area are high.
By the end of this year, it is planned that UN-HABITAT will finalize the construction of 420 low-cost housing units with basic sanitation, provide on-the-job training to labourers from the IDP community, and ensure the improvement of living conditions. It is expected that the number of houses will increase to 500, covering almost all families, as a result of cost-savings from shared walls in “back-to-back” houses. The current settlement planning activities are deciding on the location of the houses and the adjustment of existing family plots, followed by contract signing with local construction companies, for which the tender process is now ending.