Since the 1990s, armed conflict in Mogadishu and recurring famine in southern Somalia has resulted in the protracted and massive displacement of thousands of families – population movements of up to 20,000 people within a single week into or out of the capital. Since 2007, when fighting between government forces and anti-government militias intensified, an estimated 400,000 people have fled from the war zones in Mogadishu and settled along a 20-kilometre stretch of road leading out of the city. This has become known as the ‘Afgooye Corridor’ and is the largest single concentration of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the world.
With the withdrawal of Al Shabab from Mogadishu in early 2012, the frontl ine has moved towards the Afgooye Corridor, leading to a mass return of IDPs to the now safer city. The famine in 2012 led to an additional mass influx of people seeking food aid in the capital. Today, the majority of Mogadishu’s population consists of displaced, homeless, and urban poor people, making it the ‘capital of displacement’, with IDP settlements dispersed across the city.
Humanitarian agencies were overwhelmed trying to coordinate aid delivery to the rapidly growing mass settlements that emerged in a short period of time. The Shelter Cluster requested UN-Habitat to provide site planning support to organize shelter, water, and sanitation services for the biggest settlement in the city. Called ‘Zone K’, it has a population of 40,000 people, and its common settlement plan is part of the tri-cluster intervention funded by the Common Humanitarian Fund.
UN-Habitat, in cooperation with REACH, provided training to local authorities and conducted a Global Positioning System-based survey of the population and existing services. The densely populated settlement was divided into sectors to organize the implementation of shelter and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects by the humanitarian agencies.
In March 2013, the government announced its draft plan for the relocation of 170,000 IDPs from Mogadishu to allocated sites outside the city. The plan is an attempt to remove IDPs from public buildings and other properties in order to free these places for reconstruction. A piece of land in Deynile District has been identified for the resettlement of 51,000 such IDPs. UN agencies and international NGOs were requested to carry out this massive undertaking.
UN-Habitat advocated for the development of this site as a mixed use district and not as a temporary settlement. The idea was to prevent a scenario in which an informal camp is created that could turn then turn into a slum. The mixed used settlement would be developed based on sufficient plot sizes, appropriate infrastructure, and spaces for social and economic activities.
To provide expertise to support the government in finding the best approach for addressing the IDP crisis for the whole of Mogadishu, UN-Habitat developed a strategy for IDP resettlement and urban rehabilitation. The strategy was developed in consultation with the Benadir authorities and the Ministry of Works and presented in Mogadishu together with the mayor and line ministers on 22 May 2013.