Roof over their heads: Transitional shelter give hope and dignity to internally displaced families

The housing conditions of internally displaced people in Baidoa, South Central Somalia, are made up of improvised locally available materials such as clothes and rags. The makeshift houses are overcrowded and pitched side-by-side without proper spacing leading to frequent fire outbreaks and protection risks. The Deyr rainy season (October-December) has started, further undermining the poor shelter state of the camp situation. On top of the lack of appropriate housing, these IDP settlements have limited basic services offered due to vast needs with limited resources.

Asha, 32-year-old mother of five children and also doubling as the household’s primary wage earner, is among the drought displaced families living in Iskari Camp in Baidoa District. Before the drought struck, Asha cultivated a rain-fed piece of land in her village that grew maize, beans and sesame and also owned few goats for dairy subsistence.

The drought decimated Asha’s few goats and crops, forcing her to flee in search of help to Baidoa. Along with her children and neighbors, she trekked tens of kilometers through bushes to avoid armed militias check points. When she arrived in Baidoa, a relative welcomed her to Iskari IDP site and days later, helped her set up a makeshift house. Life in the camp was unbearable since basic things like water, milk and food came at a cost to those who afford.

To make ends meet, Asha joined other IDP women in fetching firewood, an incredibly dangerous journey exposing her to risk of physical and sexual violence. Asha would carry the heavy loads of firewood on her back and sell it to the host community living around the IDP sites. In a good day, Asha makes SoS 48,000, an equivalent to $2.

We lived in a makeshift house. We faced theft and I was afraid of attacks at night. We therefore didn’t sleep well. With the new house, I no longer feel any threats. The door and windows are lockable and I feel safer with that. The house has a bigger space and it protects us from the rains and the sun during the day. We are so happy and grateful to ACTED

Asha, beneficiary of a transitional shelter

In an effort to improve living conditions and protection of protracted IDP and rural populations in Somalia, ACTED, supported by the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), constructed transitional shelters made of corrugated iron sheets for IDP families in Baidoa. In total, 174 transitional shelter in 3 IDP sites have been constructed in Baidoa. For Asha and her children, the transitional shelter meant safety and protection from the harsh weather. Asha feels more secure and dignified living in a four-corned house with lockable door and windows, and most importantly a roof over her head.

To ensure community participation and fair distribution of shelters to the most vulnerable families, ACTED engaged IDP community leaders, local authorities and shelter cluster focal points to help identify the most needing families. Together, a criteria was developed that had given priority to female-headed households, large families, people living with disability, elderly, chronically ill and vulnerable lactating and pregnant mothers.

Asha’s family was among the 174 households that ACTED supported with transitional shelter in Iskari IDP site in Baidoa. In her previous makeshift house, Asha was faced with threats of night attacks, theft and had previously survived a series of fire breakouts which destroyed houses and caused injuries to people.

We really needed a house. We now have protection from the weather and bad people. We feel like any other human beings. We sleep at night very well without any fears. No scorching sun anymore, and all stay well safe and groomed


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