More than two million Somalis have been forced from their homes in one of the world’s most protracted displacement crises, now in its third decade. More than one million are internally displaced, while nearly 900,000 are refugees, mostly women and children.
The ’Nairobi Declaration’, issued by the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) in Nairobi in March 2017, called for a comprehensive regional approach to tackle the crisis. Agreements were made on a range of political, security, humanitarian, peace building, development, economic and trade issues to find lasting solutions to forced displacement for Somali refugees, and to promoting self-reliance in the countries of asylum.
IGAD member states committed to improve education, training, and skills for refugees to reduce their dependence on aid, and to align domestic laws and policies to enable refugees to get gainful employment in host communities.
The IGAD ‘Ministerial Thematic Meeting on Livelihoods and Self-reliance for Refugees, Returnees and Host Communities’ held in Kampala, Uganda, in March 2019 was a milestone for the Nairobi Declaration. Further commitments were made to strengthen livelihoods and economic inclusion of refugees, returnees, and their host communities, and to seek solutions to protracted displacement through socioeconomic support; advocating a whole of government approach to supporting self-reliance of refugees and host communities.
Together with UNHCR, the World Bank and the European Commission, UNDP is playing a key role in the support of the Nairobi and Kampala Declarations as a Core Group Member.
UNDP has a long history of working on livelihoods, defining what livelihoods are, and how and what to measure.
In Somalia, UNDP, UNHCR, UN-Habitat, and CSOs are implementing RE-INTEG, a joint initiative focusing on enhanced governance, employment opportunities, basic and protective services, rehabilitation of facilities and skills training. In 2018, 600 displaced people built community facilities--eight classrooms, two community halls, 27 latrines, nine water kiosks--through a cash-for-work programme; 500 displaced people were trained in social entrepreneurship, and one public facility was equipped with solar panels, with 25 young displaced people trained on their maintenance.
In South Sudan, UNDP together with UNICEF, FAO, and WFP, is implementing a US$15 million recovery and resilience programme in Aweil. This joint initiative promotes food security, generates sustainable livelihoods, and reinvigorates the local economy while restoring basic services and strengthening community security, social cohesion and local institutions. These critical programmes are projected to reach more than 100,000 displaced people and their host communities.
In Uganda, in 2018, UNDP’s 3x6 Approach was used to improve livelihoods for both refugees and host communities who participated in emergency employment such as road maintenance or woodlot planting. They also managed to save one third of their earnings as capital to start small enterprises. More than 2,500 refugees and host communities participated in Arua and Moyo districts.
“I was thinking of going back to South Sudan because of the burden and depression. I was tired of the harassment from my husband while trying to raise my children alone with limited support. After I joined the project, I became motivated to restart life here,” says Joyce who is a refugee.
UNDP is learning lessons—good and bad—that help us improve the way we support refugees and their host communities:
- The most successful interventions take an integrated recovery and developmental approach including vocational training; cash-for-work; entrepreneurship support; supplying start-up kits for micro, small and medium businesses; and improving governance, rule of law, justice, and social cohesion.
- While sustainability is one of the challenges, another is scalability. UNDP’s reviews of jobs and livelihoods programmes often highlight difficulties in how to upscale interventions or replicate them, and how to ensure scalability is considered from the outset.
- Displacement solutions are intrinsically linked to the achievement of the SDGs, the 2030 Agenda, and ‘leaving no one behind’ given refugees and displaced people are a particularly vulnerable population. The international community, including UNDP, must continue to design and implement policies and programmes with a clear contribution to reaching SDGs at national and local levels.
Somali refugees, like all refugees, internally displaced people or their vulnerable host communities must not be left behind, they must be heard, and their active participation needs to be promoted.
IGAD countries and our partners can count on UNDP’s commitment to support the Nairobi Declaration. We will pursue new development solutions for refugee and host communities through the use of digital technology and climate resilient livelihoods systems applying the lessons we have learned to strengthen our support and address the needs and aspirations of refugees, returnees, and host communities everywhere.