Around 380 displaced families, who have been living in IDP camps in Harhaar area, 10 km south of Galkayo, have moved to a piece of bare, open land that they have been given by the local authorities, although the houses they have been promised have not yet been built.
The families, mostly former pastoralists who lost all their livestock to the drought, have lost hope of resuming their previous proud traditional livelihood and been forced into destitution.
They moved to the open land fearing imminent eviction from the camps, as many forced evictions at the behest of developers have been going on in Galkayo, the main city in northeastern Puntland region, and other cities in Somalia. Most have constructed makeshift shelters using sticks and pieces of cardboard and plastic bags and branches.
Daado Hassan Ahmed, a mother of six, said she was happy just to have a roof over her head and not to have to worry constantly about where she and her six children were going to live. She moved onto the new land two months ago, after receiving notification that she would get a title deed to show she was the owner of a plot and house there.
Daado told Radio Ergo she had been evicted from three different IDP camps in the same area of Galkayo in the last two years. Around 30 of the families now living on the new land suffered forceful evictions from their last homes. The rest say they feared the constant pressure to move out and suffered the congestion in the sprawling IDP camps.
The local authorities in Galkayo plan to construct two-room houses with a toilet for every family during the course of this year.
Lack of housing in the open forced these families to setup the make-shift houses and not wait for the housing project which could take some time. The plots will be worth around $200 each, according to current land prices in Harhaarka area.
The previously uninhabited area is close to water wells in Harhaarka. The social welfare representative of Galkayo municipal council, Muhyadin Yusuf Samatar, said the families are receiving water piped to their houses through a project funded by a Qatari charity. They are receiving free water storage containers and access water throughout the day.
Muhyadin Yusuf Samatar said there were around 9,000 displaced families in the area. Those selected as beneficiaries of the new land and housing scheme for this scheme were those who had lost all hope of returning to pastoralism. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has been supporting the resettlement of these families and preparing the land ownership documentation.
Saido Ahmed, a researcher and policy advisor at NRC, said their main task was ensuring that the new owners of the land get their title deeds to prove their ownership, although the municipal council is still waiting for the housing project to finish so that they can issue the papers. NRC was also part of selecting the beneficiaries of the housing project using a set of criteria.
NRC is supporting a similar land tenure housing project for another 350 families in northern Galkayo.
Saido said land ownership would give the residents their legal basic rights, and they could sell, rent or reconstruct the houses as they please.
Harhaarka hosts 12 camps, some which were established in the conflict in 2015, has attracted scores of drought-hit pastoralist flee from different parts of Mudug region. According to the local administration, ICRC, WFP and Cesvi, have given cash and food aid to the families recovering from drought.