Somalia: Shelters offer protection in Puntland

1 August, 2012
Hassan Noor-Orie sits outside his newly constructed semi-permanent shelter which protects his family from harsh weather conditions. Credit: OCHA/R. Maingi
Hassan Noor-Orie sits outside his newly constructed semi-permanent shelter which protects his family from harsh weather conditions. Credit: OCHA/R. Maingi
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Sunset is a mixed blessing for nearly 25,000 displaced people who live in Bariga settlement in Bossaso, northern Somalia. The night brings relief from the day’s sweltering heat, when temperatures can reach 48 degrees. But darkness also brings its share of uncertainties, especially among households headed by women whose buuls—huts made from sticks, cartons and old rugs—offer little security or privacy. Women in settlements for internally displaced persons (IDPs) are particularly vulnerable to theft and sexual assault. Buuls are also prone to fire, fanned by the strong winds in Bossaso.

Now relief has come to 1,640 families through semi-permanent shelters funded by the OCHA-administered Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF). Implemented by the Norwegian Refugee Council, the project constructs shelters made of corrugated galvanised iron sheets and timber, mounted on a cement floor. They provide much more safety and protection than the buuls.
Amina Abdullahi Haji Mohamed, a mother of eight, is one of those who have received a new shelter. Before they moved into their new home, two fires destroyed all her family’s belongings.  
“Once, thieves cut through the cardboard and cloth walls of my buul and stole our few possessions, including some food rations I had just received,” recalls Amina. “My children fell sick all the time because of the rain and extreme heat.” 
The majority of the displaced people in Bossaso are from the southern regions of Somalia and remain in the settlements for years. Many had hoped to cross the Gulf of Aden to Yemen and beyond, in search of a better life, but could not afford to pay smugglers to make the perilous journey. The UN Refugee Agency estimates there are at least 50,000 displaced people living in Bossaso. 
Hassan Noor-Orie, a 43-year-old father of five, says he can now protect his wife and children from the harsh weather. 
“I like this house for its good quality, and my family is protected from rain, fire and strong winds,” he says. “It has a strong base and walls that thieves cannot cut through. I can also lock my house when I go to work in town, which I could not do previously.” 
Noor-Orie was among many displaced people in Bossaso who were evicted last year from private land. Since then, OCHA has been instrumental in coordinating the shelter project, which brings together Government officials, and local and international NGOs to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable displaced families.
OCHA’s Victor Lahai in Bossaso says the process has been challenging, but the joy on people’s faces when they move into the new shelters makes the effort worthwhile. 
“We have around 11,000 families and we have only provided shelter to 1,640, so the gap is far from filled. If we can get more funding, I’m sure we’ll manage to create more impact,” says Victor.
The Somalia CHF has supported several other projects in Bossaso, including the provision of clean water and the construction of latrines. 
Reporting by Rita Maingi, OCHA Somalia

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