The Tawakal settlement was established in 2006, when a piece of land was made available to internally displaced persons (IDPs) who had come from south central Somalia, many with previous roots in Galkayo. The Tawakal IDP Community Shelter, Settlement Planning, Basic Sanitary Facilities, and Housing Construction Project was conceived after UN-Habitat carried out a strategic planning exercise with members of the community in June 2010. The community members expressed a strong desire to be able to develop their settlement as a planned community, legally recognized as a municipality under Puntland territory, with the help of UN-Habitat.
Funded by the Government of Japan, the project’s main objectives are to: develop a community settlement plan for the sustainable development of Tawakal; reduce the threat of forced eviction; develop limited infrastructure for housing; and improve coping mechanisms by supporting livelihood opportunities, e.g. through on-the-job construction skills training and training on the production of appropriate building materials. These activities are in line with the concept of sustainable, integrated human settlements, which is at the heart of the UN-Habitat agenda.
The main project involves the provision of 460 houses, each consisting of a 4-by-4 metre room and a sanitary facility on a 10-by-15 metre plot. Supplementary projects include child-friendly places and women’s centres, tree planting and landscaping, and brick-making (which will allow beneficiaries to more easily upgrade their houses in the future).
Creating the list of beneficiaries for the houses was a long and arduous process, which began with a socio-economic survey by UN-Habitat. The final list, which included pictures of each head of household, was presented to the community and local authorities for approval. UN-Habitat then signed an agreement with the municipality to provide official land titles to each of the beneficiaries.
At the same time, UN-Habitat carried out a tender process for the construction of the houses, and two local construction companies were identified. A local NGO was engaged to do the three supplementary projects.
A stone-laying ceremony to initiate construction was organized in November 2011, and the mayor gave a speech praising UN-Habitat’s work. Some of the beneficiaries also had a chance to express their satisfaction with the objectives of the project and its inclusive procedures. They expressed gratitude to the Government of Japan, which funded the project, noted other housing projects by UN-Habitat, and requested additional projects in the future.
The project has accomplished most of its expected outcomes:
- The scope of the project was clearly defined in a participatory manner, establishing the design and number of houses to be built, the three supplementary projects, and the livelihood-related training.
- All beneficiaries of the housing component of the project received an official title deed for the land they are on, removing the threat of forced eviction and allowing them to grow roots in Tawakal.
- Housing construction is very well advanced and will be finished within weeks, with most beneficiaries already occupying their newly built houses.
- Work has started on the three supplementary projects – child-friendly spaces and women’s centres, tree planting and landscaping, and training for brick-making.
Overall, this project is expected to have a phenomenal impact on the settlement, hugely improving the living conditions of this previously vulnerable IDP community.