Voluntary return of Somali refugees from neighbouring countries

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: Wasaaradda Arrimaha Gudaha Soomaaliya (Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs)
Overall term: 2015 to 2021

Basketballtornament zur Integration in Kismayo-GIZ_Amina Dubow


The lengthy civil war in Somalia has shattered the country’s political, social and economic structures and created difficult living conditions for large sections of the population. The new government and the regional governments that are currently being established are unable to cope with distributing goods to their own people. Three periods of drought since 2011 have had considerable impact. Over recent decades, conflict and hunger have driven around two million people from their homes. Some have sought refuges in other parts of Somalia, while others have fled to neighbouring countries, such as Kenya.

Since 2016, the numbers of refugees returning to Somalia from Kenya has risen to 75,000. Most have settled in the port city of Kismayo.

The project’s main field of activity is the social, economic and political (re)integration of returnees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). The growing population in Kismayo means that resources and structures are overstretched and the potential for conflict between IDPs, returnees and the local population is rising. An increasing number of people compete for the already scarce basic services and limited public infrastructure. Many are also traumatised by displacement and the civil war.


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

Erfolgreicher Jungunternehmer mit  handy 'repair shop'-GIZ_Amina Dubow


The project supports selected communities in reintegrating IDPs and returnees from neighbouring countries. Host communities are also benefiting from these measures. The project works in four fields of action: 

  • Improving the functioning of social and economic infrastructure 
  • Promoting opportunities to earn an income by supporting businesses, promoting employment, and providing job placement services 
  • Skills development for selected local agencies and institutions in tackling the (re)integration of returnees and IDPs 
  • Providing basic psychosocial support

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


More than 80,000 refugees returning from neighbouring countries, internally displaced persons and Somali nationals have benefited directly or indirectly from project activities. Wages provide incomes or provide the basic capital needed to set up small businesses. Around 4,000 individuals buy and sell dairy products, vegetables, and camel and goat meat at the new market set up in the centre of Kismayo. Tea stalls, tailoring workshops and hairdressing salons are making use of the new infrastructure, with new shops opening up around the market hall, serving a wide public and promoting economic growth. Solar powered street lamps and small solar lamps provide light and security.

Many people have benefited from advisory services and initial and continuing training: 850 unemployed young people and women have learned how to set up their own business. They have access to micro-loans and have created new jobs. More than 1,000 people have taken part in training courses to acquire skills as carpenters, welders, fitters, beauticians, service staff in hotels and catering, and tailors. Good business ideas have been rewarded with start-up capital. 

A number of women’s cooperatives have tapped into new markets and created jobs with new business ideas ranging from making and selling bread and marble cake to producing special embroidery for clothing and household decoration. Innovation in the processing, production and sale of dairy products, yoghurt and ice cream has created niches for new products, such as Kismayo yoghurt. A total of more than 900 women and men have so far put their business ideas into practice, creating employment.

Combined jobs and trade fairs bring jobseekers and potential employers together. Targeted vocational training in cooperation with the private sector in areas including IT, banking, telecommunications, and catering and hotels have benefited both jobseekers and companies. 150 young people have secured long-term employment. The project has trained the first group of solar power technicians, who are now providing services and operating solar power booths. The Commission of the Somali State of Jubbaland has successfully registered 75,000 internally displaced persons and a further 75,000 returnees from neighbouring states, issuing identity documents and providing advice on reintegration.

The measures are benefiting IDPs, returnees and host communities equally. This sustainable approach aims to tackle the long-term structural causes of displacement, social inequality and a lack of prospects. It promotes employment, health, social cohesion, sustainable development and new prospects.

And from the end of 2019, the project will tackle the growing demand on the part of the population in Kismayo for services to improve their psychosocial wellbeing.

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