Roundup: Land, housing, women's rights vital to Somalia stability: aid agency
08 July 2016, 02:15
Nairobi (Xinhua) -- Land, housing and women's
empowerment are crucial to the stability of Somalia, a report
issued on Monday by an aid agency said.
The report by the Norwegian Refugee Council says lack of access
to land, housing and property, and a lack of women's empowerment
are the two main drivers hampering efforts towards finding durable
solutions for displaced communities in Somalia.
The Norwegian Refugee Council's Regional Director in the Horn of
Africa, Gabriella Waaijman, said competition for land and other
natural resources were the most significant factors fuelling past
conflict and current instability in Somalia.
The report received in the Somali capital Mogadishu says women
in Somalia are more affected by housing, land and property
violations compared to men.
The report identifies challenges displaced women living in urban
settlements in Somalia are facing when exercising their rights to
access housing, land and property.
The report comes at a time when Kenya has decided to repatriate
hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees living in Kenya's Dadaab
Waaijman said the findings of the report are crucial to the
successful reintegration of these communities and Somalia's future
The study reveals that while there are initiatives supporting
women's rights to housing, land and property, many barriers exist,
especially those relating to Somali norms regarding the balance of
power between men and women.
"Discriminatory customs have been used to deny women inheritance
and divorce rights available to them under Sharia law, often
casting aspersions on a woman's character if she seeks to claim
them," Waaijman said.
"Furthermore, some women have reported that access to
non-customary justice mechanisms have been blocked if elders did
not support the case," Waaijman added.
It is important that all actors working on Somalia's
stabilization and reconstruction understand the social dynamics
around women's role in society, and respond accordingly, the report
Displaced women's housing, land and property rights must be
addressed given their specific vulnerabilities and help strengthen
their resilience, it adds.
The report points to Somalia's National Development Plan process
as providing an opportunity to institutionalize housing, land and
property rights, and secure durable solutions for displaced
"The voices of displaced people must be included in the forums
where housing and land issues are discussed. Displaced women are
sorely lacking in these spaces to speak and access decision-makers
who are willing to listen," said Waaijman.
An estimated 1.1 million Somalis are internally displaced, in
addition to the expected returnees from Kenya, according to the
Kenya hosts over 400,000 Somalia refugees, including the more
than 300,000 in Dadaab refugee camp.