(ERGO) – Internally displaced families living a precarious life in the southern Somali town of Baidoa have succeeded in purchasing their own plots of land to escape from the constant threat of eviction.
The communities in two IDP camps set up a scheme allowing people in the camp to deposit a fixed contribution each month into a basket fund to buy land for permanent homes.
Osman Sheikh Mohamed, the chairperson of Tawakal camp, hosting 157 displaced families, told Radio Ergo that it took them four months to collect $15,700 to buy a piece of land from the host community large enough to accommodate all the families.
“Every family paid $100 a month over a period of four months. The initiative came about after the families felt they urgently needed to become independent on their own land. This followed several experiences of being forced to move from one place to another because the host community did not want them to stay on certain land,” said Osman.
The 157 families from Tawakal camp have all moved out of the camp to settle on the newly bought plot of land, measuring 170 metres by 125 metres.
“We divided the piece of land among the families from the camp. Every family has received a plot big enough to put up a house,” stated Osman.
The Tawakal families originally came from villages in Bakol and Bay regions. None of them wants to return there. They were farmers and pastoralists, pushed into abject poverty by the prolonged drought of 2016-17, in which many herds of livestock were wiped out. Now they have no plans to go back to the villages.
Rahma Mohamed Ibrahim, a 36-year-old mother of six children, expressed her happiness at being able to move onto a plot of land where she can settle permanently.
“We have been evicted several times before but now I hope this will not happen again,” she said. “I contributed my $100 each month that I earned from casual jobs. I also saved some cash I got from Save the Children. I now have a six-metre plot to settle on!”
Shamso Sharif Isack said she had to sacrifice to make her cash contributions, but it was worth it to get her portion of land. She and her neighbours sold some of the relief supplies they received from the aid agencies to raise the cash, as they desperately wanted to buy the land.
“I came here from Gofgudud-Shabelow village one and half years ago. I really wanted to own my own piece of land, so we decided to put whatever little we had into purchasing our own plot and our dream has come true now,” she said.
Isack Adan Mohamud, leaders of another IDP camp in Baidoa, explained that a similar savings scheme had been initiated in his camp among the 118 displaced families.
They had managed to buy a plot of land measuring 320m2 with $5,664 contributions made by the families. Isack said the initiative would foster self-reliance among the displaced community.