Strengthening the voluntary return of Somali refugees

Project description

Title: Strengthening the voluntary return of Somali refugees through a community-oriented approach to reintegration in Somalia
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Somalia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Interior, Federal Affairs and Democratization
Overall term: 2015 to 2022

Basketballtornament zur Integration in Kismayo-GIZ_Amina Dubow


Three decades of civil war, major attacks by the terrorist group Al Shabaab and three droughts since 2011 have shattered Somalia's infrastructure. Conflict and hunger have driven around two million people from their homes in the past few decades. Today Somali refugees and asylum seekers are among the world's largest refugee populations.

After over 20 years without a central government, a national Somali Government was elected in August 2012. Thanks to the greater stability, over 91,000 Somali refugees returned between 2014 and 2020. Most of them are trying to make a new life for themselves in the port city of Kismayo, because of its strategic location and economic potential.

This has caused the population of Kismayo to double in recent years: Today returnees and IDPs make up a third of the population. This has further overloaded the already scarce resources and weak infrastructure. The potential for conflict between IDPs, returnees and the local population is rising. The coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated conditions and is impacting the livelihoods of low-income families in particular. Many people have also been traumatised by displacement and the civil war.


The livelihoods of returnees, IDPs and the local population in selected host communities in Somalia are improved.

Erfolgreicher Jungunternehmer mit  handy 'repair shop'-GIZ_Amina Dubow


The project supports social, economic and political (re)integration. It supports the host communities in order to avoid conflict between returnees, IDPs and the local population, and to strengthen their peaceful coexistence. This is achieved through five fields of action:

  • Improving functional social and economic infrastructure;
  • Creating income by supporting businesses, promoting employment, and providing job placement services;
  • Developing skills in selected local agencies and institutions in order to facilitate the (re)integration of returnees and IDPs;
  • Providing basic psychosocial support;
  • Providing short-term services to counter the impact of COVID-19.

The project cooperates with a range of national and international non-governmental organisations. The focus is on an integrated approach involving all target groups and state decision-makers.

Neuer Dal Ada Markt-GIZ_Amina Dubow


Over the past six years more than 80,000 returning refugees, IDPs and locals have benefited directly or indirectly from project activities.

New market hall: The new market in the centre of Kismayo has developed into an economic hub. Around 4,200 people use it every week. Businesses have opened around the market hall and drive economic growth. Solar-powered street lamps provide light and security. Another market will be completed in 2021.

Midwifery Training Institute: A new midwifery training institute has been training midwives for three years – they ensure safe births and save lives.

Advisory services, initial and continuing training: Over 1,700 young people and women have attended courses in how to set up their own business. More than 800 young people have taken part in training courses to acquire skills as carpenters, welders, plumbers, beauticians, service staff in hotels, and tailors.

Small businesses: Women’s cooperatives have tapped into new markets with baked goods and embroidery. Innovations in the processing, production and sale of dairy products have created niches for new products, such as Kismayo yoghurt. A total of more than 1,250 women and men have put their business ideas into practice, realised income and created jobs. Good business ideas have been supported with start-up capital. 

Labour market: Job and trade fairs bring employers and job-seekers together. Vocational training in cooperation with the private sector is improving job prospects in the IT, banking, telecommunications, and catering and hotel sectors. So far 220 young job-seekers have found work and received a one year mentoring programme.

Renewable energy: The project has trained the first group of solar power technicians, who are now advising small businesses on alternative sources of electricity.

Psychosocial services: The first self-help groups for psychosocial counselling are active. More are planned due to high demand. A new department is being established within the Ministry of Health to support these counselling services.

Administration: A learning network enables partner institutions to develop guiding principles and to exchange information on organisational development and service delivery. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has established a digital registration and certification platform for small and medium-sized enterprises in Kismayo.

COVID-19: The project is supporting a quarantine centre, mobile health services for about 9,000 people, unconditional limited-term cash transfers for 2,800 people and access to hygiene and awareness raising measures.

The measures are benefiting IDPs, returnees and the host communities equally. They are intended to eliminate structural causes of displacement such as social inequality and a lack of prospects.

As at: April 2021

Additional information