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News & Events Understanding the link between Climate & LAND-at-scale country projects - Sustainable Solutions for Rural-Urban Migrants in Baidoa, Somalia
Understanding the link between Climate & LAND-at-scale country projects - Sustainable Solutions for Rural-Urban Migrants in Baidoa, Somalia
Understanding the link between Climate & LAND-at-scale country projects - Sustainable Solutions for Rural-Urban Migrants in Baidoa, Somalia
Planned resettlement site in Baidoa
Planned resettlement site in Baidoa

As part of a scoping study titled Land Governance for Climate Resilience: A review and case studies from LAND-at-scale projects headed by Richard Sliuzas, Emeritus Professor, University of Twente, IOM explored how climate plays a role in the UN-led Saameynta Joint Programme in Somalia. In this context, climate change is increasingly recognized as a multiplier of insecurity and fragility, where climate-related sudden and slow-onset disasters are driving people to leave their land and migrate. While migrating allows people to find alternative livelihoods and enhance their climate resilience, it can also be associated with instances of maladaptation to climate change. As such, this case highlights durable solutions in climate-driven urban sprawl in Baidoa.  


Climate projections for Somalia indicate a shift towards drier, warmer, and more erratic conditions, posing a threat to livelihoods dependent on agriculture, livestock, fisheries, and forestry. In the face of gradual environmental changes, households and communities might have no alternative but to leave their places of origin in search of more habitable regions. Presently, over 3.8 million individuals, comprising approximately 30% of the total population of around 13 million, are displaced. The majority of displacement, around 75%, is attributed to climate-related events like droughts and floods. The remaining 25% can be mainly attributed to conflicts, wherein approximately 80% of the conflicts recorded were centred on the control and utilization of natural resources such as land, water, and pasture. As coping mechanisms are exhausted, people migrate from rural to urban centres, causing rapid and unplanned urbanization. When internally displaced persons (IDPs) move to urban areas lacking proper planning, their coping strategies can often lead to maladaptive practices that can exacerbate existing stresses on destinations, like soil erosion due to logging, reduced crop diversity, and inadequate waste management resulting in health hazards. This process, in turn, intensifies social disparities, unemployment, poverty, and gender inequalities.

Now, urban and peri-urban regions, are characterized by ongoing land disputes that hold significant economic and political implications. The vulnerable situation of IDPs is further worsened by factors such as a lack of clear tenure security arrangements and competition with host communities for limited natural resources in cities. Additionally, much of the desired land is still owned by absentee landlords, lying unused and artificially exacerbating land scarcity. Furthermore, IDPs are consistently at risk of being removed from their homes, unable to improve their living conditions or foster hope for the future. This exposure often leads to secondary displacement, further heightening vulnerabilities. Alongside the challenges posed by their settlements, this situation hinders IDPs' abilities to adapt to climate-related hazards.

Baidoa is one of three focus cities in the Saameynta programme, located in the central region of Southwest State (SWS). Initially designed for a population of around 70,000, it now houses over 700,000 due to displacements. Baidoa is surrounded by expansive arid lands, currently repurposed for housing and sustainable solutions for IDPs. The area experiences strong winds and occasional floods in relatively flat low-lying zones. Drought is a persistent problem and the deforestation-triggered exposure of loose soils has led to local landslide and erosion problems. Alongside these natural hazards, human-related risks include insecurity, fire hazards, and pervasive poverty, as identified by the community.

LAND-at-scale in Somalia

Saameynta is jointly funded by The Netherlands, Switzerland, and Norway, in which LAND-at-scale focusses on land related action. The project aims to achieve sustainable durable solutions to internal displacement in Somalia, embracing an innovative approach that combines land governance activities, sustainable urban planning, and interventions to enhance access to services and livelihood opportunities. Therefore, Saameynta offers insightful examples of how to foster sustainable durable solutions for displacement affected communities (DACs), while incorporating climate resilience considerations.

Land governance for increased climate resilience in (peri-)urban spaces

To tackle the barriers to land governance in Somalia, Saameynta supports the government of Somalia in the implementation of land governance interventions in view of designing and deploying a range of urban planning and legal tools that can meet both IDP needs and urban development challenges. Saameynta’s land governance interventions in Baidoa focus on two main areas, namely (1) urban planning and (2) tenure security.  

Pertaining to urban planning, the Baidoa City Strategy and Extension Plan defines a set of strategic priorities and actionable policy proposals aimed at addressing issues surrounding inclusive urban growth and future management of the territory. This plan is based on a participatory multi-stakeholder consultation process which included actors from Federal Government, Ministry of Public Works and Reconstruction, Baidoa municipality and civil society (local and displaced communities). The result is a strategy which prioritises interventions in land use and promotes investments through an analysis of urban forms, natural and climate risks, urban infrastructure and provision of basic services and housing, to integrate IDP settlements in the official urban system that governs the city vis-à-vis unmanaged urbanisation. For example, it includes elements such as upgrading of the city’s drainage system and an increase in permeable surfaces, to allow a more effective water resource management that will mitigate the potential effects of extreme natural events, such as droughts and floodings; the formulation of a broader afforestation strategy to stabilize the topsoil, improve groundwater absorption, prevent soil erosion from flooding, provide natural flood attenuation, and encourage the return of wildlife.

For (2) enhancing tenure security, Saameynta supported the enactment of the SWS Urban Land Management Law in 2022: to manage the urban land of the SWS to ensure equity in land allocation and use of resources, guarantee land ownership and registration, resolve land disputes, regulate the land and property market and so on. In short, the law provides a basis to increase land tenure and ownership, which can create an environment more conducive to investments that might increase climate resilience while producing climate adaptation. By contrast, weak land tenure and overlapping levels of ownership make investments in environmental sustainability more uncertain for local authorities and humanitarian and development organizations. Investments in infrastructure, for example, can be cancelled at any time in the event of land disputes between persons with competing ownership claims. This makes investing very risky and thereby less attractive, given the lack of a formal system for obtaining a share of land value increments from land investments

A combination of both strategies is the facilitation of decongestion of IDPs from unplanned sites within cities by promoting relocation to nearby sites in peri-urban locations. For Baidoa, the site Barwaaqo was developed. The SWS administration purchased land from private owners and then allocated the acquired public land to displacement-affected communities for multi-purpose use, providing them with long-term tenure security in line with coherent urban development initiatives. The government donated public land for housing and public infrastructures and services, further allocating nine hectares for farming, producing crops and other household gardening for populations affected by crises. In these activities, climate is considered an important component for long-term sustainability.

Main take-aways

Overall, through improved urban planning and land governance, Saameynta aim to increase the ability to plan urban spaces which incorporate climate resilience for the long-term and contribute to reducing the risks of secondary displacement due to natural hazards. The strong focus on land governance is crucial to building climate resilience as part of durable solutions interventions.

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Or compare the findings with our cases in Colombia, Uganda, and Mozambique.


Written by Karel Boers, Federica Acquaviva and Marta Cavallaro

Edited by Aoife Ossendorp