Impact story

Understanding Displacement and Urbanisation in Somali Cities

© Durham University 
Picture taken by Yasiin, a displaced person in Bosaaso and project participant. 
A selection of the photos from the project

Somalia has one of the largest populations of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the world: an estimated 2.6 million in 2018. Yet little is known about the way displaced people experience flight and resettlement, how they learn to navigate their new city lives, and what measures they take to improve their security. The ESRC-DFID funded ‘Security on the Move’ project captured the experiences of displaced people in four Somali cities and provided spaces for them to raise their concerns with policymakers. The study showed that land, tenure and labour insecurity consistently feature in their lives. Living conditions differed considerably depending on the duration of settlement, individuals’ connection to local power-holders, and their gender. However, in all four cities, displaced people provided services within the expanding urban economies. Physical insecurity remained a threat, as people continued to experience evictions, domestic violence, crime, or threats posed by armed groups.

Focus projects: 

Group photograph of displaced people affected by flooding in Beletweyne, Somalia.

This research project addresses the nexus of poverty, environmental sustainability and conflict in Somalia from the perspective of the most vulnerable in-migrants to cities, people who were internally displaced (IDPs). The interplay between violent conflict and droughts is described as one of the main drivers of internal displacement in Somalia, but rapid in-migration to cities further increases pressures on the urban and rural environment.