May 26, 2024

Somalia: Community centres provide safe spaces

A community centre established by NOFYL with support from SHF in Banadir region, Somalia. Credit: Jaffar/NOFYL

Every day, internally displaced people (IDPs) around the world leave behind their livelihoods, property and often their roots. In some cases, they are separated from their families and communities, disrupting their familiar way of life.

Wherever IDPs choose to settle, they inevitably require a space where they can converge and interact. Community centres, for example, help strengthen coexistence among IDPs, allow for easier access to crucial information for the residents of IDP sites, and provide women with a safe space where they can speak freely without fear.

With funding from the Somalia Humanitarian Fund, local partner Northern Frontier Youth League (NoFYL) has constructed community centres in Bananey and Iskaashi IDP sites in Kaxda and Deynille districts, respectively, in Somalia’s Banadir Region. The centres host 29,597 IDPs (22,220 in Deynille district, 7,377 in Kaxda district).

Before construction began, NoFYL consulted IDPs on the building process and the area of construction for accessibility. The centres are located strategically in areas with a higher concentration of people and not covered by other agencies with similar interventions.

Mohamed Abdi Isaq, a camp leader from Bananey IDP site in Kaxda, explained the importance of involving camp leaders in the initial construction process.

“NoFYL came to us,” he said. “We know the area very well and advised them on the best area for construction. Now many people from different camps are able to come here because it’s accessible.”

Mohamed explained how the centre benefits the community: “The centre brings the community together. Before, we did not have a central area where we can all meet and discuss issues of the camp or provide mobilization, but now it has become easier because everyone knows where to meet.”

The centres also give other service providers a meeting point in their endeavour to serve the vulnerable IDPs. Those providers include partners such as Danish Refugee Council, Norwegian Refugee Council, Save the Children, Humanitarian Integrity for Women Action, Save Somali Women and Children, and WARDI Relief and Development Initiatives.

“This centre here is a blessing to us,” said Xaawo Maxamed Jimcale from Iskaashi IDP site in Deynille district. “It is like a home to everyone in the camp where we can come and receive assistance or mobilization. Before, it was really hard.

“We also come here to solve cases and grievances, unlike before where we would sit outside in an open area where everyone would see us, and it was noisy sometimes because it’s outside. We are thankful to NoFYL for this centre,” he said.

The coming together of people from different sites has improved information sharing among communities and with the partners. Halima Ahmed, a camp resident from Horyal IDP site in Deynille, said the community centre has provided a space for her and other women in the camp to air their views accordingly.

Source: OCHOA