Following the commencement of SUDP, donors contributed funding to additional activities (mainly shelter-related), which were incorporated into the SUDP programme structure. But after the first six months, it was concluded that the enlarged SUDP showed gaps in certain fields, both as a result of its rapid growth and in terms of activities. In early 2006, the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom decided to finance new and existing governance activities and strengthen the core SUDP programme team. The resulting “Strengthening Governance in the Somali Region” initiative functioned within the framework of the SUDP. The main strategy was to support emerging local governing structures through capacity building, while at the same time implementing capital investment projects.
One of the most important supported activities involved improving the living conditions of the displaced in Bossaso, Puntland’s main city. This was an interagency project that aimed to upgrade existing IDP settlements, while developing permanent resettlement solutions for some vulnerable IDP and urban poor families. In cooperation with the municipality and other agencies of the Bossaso shelter cluster, UN-HABITAT took the lead in developing a roadmap for IDPs in Bossaso. Three broad activities were identified:
- Emergency operations after fires
- Upgrading temporary settlements
- Planning comprehensive resettlement and durable shelter solutions to effectively integrate the displaced into the host community
The interventions were part of a broader development plan for Bossaso East. A draft plan was made and discussed with the city council and traditional and religious leaders, while the general public was made aware through announcements and items on local radio and TV. It involved reconstructing roads, upgrading settlements, providing street lights, supplying water, and constructing basic shelter units for the IDPs, as well as the creation of a new bypass road, already traced, to relieve downtown congestion by redirecting traffic going to the port.
Other activities focused largely on support to informal settlements affected by fires. Within this approach, the unfortunate effects of disaster were turned into an opportunity by guiding the reconstruction process and replanning the sites in a way that made them more resilient to fire and disease outbreaks, while allowing enough space for basic services and infrastructure. In May 2006, a fire broke out in the “100 Bush” area, the largest IDP settlement in Bossaso. Immediately after the fire, which destroyed more than 200 buuls (makeshift huts), UN-HABITAT reacted by surveying the site and drafting a reorganization plan that incorporated firebreaks and hygienic considerations, following the principles of “building back better”.
Such site assessments, community discussions, and replanning activities continued in several settlements, starting with the demarcation of the sites for improved structures, including provisions for sanitation and public spaces. This meant less compacted informal residential areas, primary and secondary firebreaks, community assembly areas, and designated areas for water kiosks and latrine construction. The project assisted families in more than six IDP settlements. UN-HABITAT facilitated negotiations among the IDPs, local authorities, and landlords to establish basic rights and responsibilities (protection against arbitrary eviction, unobstructed access to basic services, etc.). In addition, 900 transitional shelter kits were distributed, while the first 140 families were resettled and provided with more permanent shelter solutions and security of tenure.
The approach this project followed was replicated and scaled up into the Protection, Reintegration, and Resettlement of Internally Displaced People Joint Programme.
Meanwhile, in support of the Gardo District Council’s remarkable willingness to tackle several of their local problems, the project started the rehabilitation and improvement of the Gardo municipal building. A similar initiative was the rehabilitation of Odweyne Market, in collaboration with the Odweyne District Council and Danish Refugee Council. Specific capacity-building projects were set up for the municipalities of Bossaso and Garowe to improve their basic organizational structure.