UN-HABITAT and UNICEF have announced a major project to provide shelter for over 2,400 people living in the tsunami-affected town of Xaafuun, North Eastern Somalia. Under a recently-signed agreement, a 12-month project, slated to begin next month and worth just over USD 1.35 million, will plan, relocate and reconstruct some 250 housing units, public buildings and sanitation facilities on a safe and protected site in Xaafuun as part of a larger integrated development programme involving different international organizations.
Following the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, most buildings on the Xaafuun seafront were destroyed or severely damaged. Over 5,000 people were displaced because the town’s largely unplanned settlement was located on exposed sandy terrain.
The reconstruction, which will begin in August, comes as a result of a joint-UN agency assessment mission in February 2005, which identified areas for investment in Xaafuun in the transition from humanitarian relief to longer-term development.
UN-HABITAT’s Chief Technical Advisor, Mr. Maurizio Pieroni said: “After meeting the immediate emergency needs of Xaafuun following the tsunami, the aim of the UN team is to collaborate with the community to forge a medium to long-term assistance programme that will develop living and working conditions in a sustainable way.”
Reconstruction of the area will include site planning and design, construction skills training, the production of local building materials and management skills training for cooperative enterprises.
According to UNICEF Somalia Representative, Mr. Christian Balslev-Olesen, it will also bring basic social services and economic development to the people of Xaafuun. “This is a project that will provide 250 families, including 1,600 children, with affordable housing and sanitation facilities while in the process creating job-opportunities, building technical and leadership skills and nurturing community spirit,” he said.
The project will be implemented in collaboration with other United Nations agencies including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).