At a gathering with Somali local government officials, a senior United Nations expert highlighted the need for long-lasting and local solutions to the challenges brought about by Somalia’s rapid urbanisation.
The Horn of Africa country is among the fastest urbanising countries in the world, with the return of refugees and internal displacement key drivers of the movement of people from rural to urban areas. “2.6 million Somalis are internally displaced – that’s an amazing number in absolute terms but also in terms of the overall population.
This is a huge humanitarian challenge but it’s also affecting the development of the country and ultimately the security, the state-building,” said Walter Kaelin, a UN Special Advisor on Internal Displacement.
“And unless we find durable solutions for these people I think it will be very difficult for Somalia to advance,” he added.
The UN expert was speaking on the sidelines of the ‘Exchange on Local Solutions to Urban Displacement,’ a gathering of local government officials, civil society representatives and UN experts to discuss the role of local authorities in finding solutions to the country’s urbanisation.
Held in the capital, Mogadishu, those attending included that city’s mayor, as well as those of regional centres such as Baidoa and Bosssaso. In Somalia, more than a million men, women and children live in protracted displacement in the wake of the country’s conflict, and hundreds of thousands are believed to have been displaced due to drought.
The country’s large population movement has posed new challenges to Somali society, not only to the landscape and social fabric of many towns and cities, but also by putting increased pressure on host communities that themselves struggle with limited available resources.