The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.
The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.

Security on the move: everyday security of IDPs in rapidly growing Somali cities

Research Partners:

Photo: Displaced people affected by flooding in Beletweyne, Somalia.
Image credit: AMISON Public Informaton /Flickr under license CC0 1.0

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Principal Investigator: Jutta Bakonyi. Lead Organisation: Durham University

Co-investigators: Ali Ali; Peter Chonka; Nimo Ali; Kirsti Stuvoey

This research project addresses the nexus of poverty, environmental sustainability and conflict in Somalia from the perspective of the most vulnerable in-migrants to cities, people who were internally displaced (IDPs). The interplay between violent conflict and droughts is described as one of the main drivers of internal displacement in Somalia, but rapid in-migration to cities further increases pressures on the urban and rural environment. The research focus is on the capacities of IDPs to cope with the effects of violence and displacement and to mitigate vulnerability. The study is conducted in four cities in Southern Somalia (Mogadishu, Baidoa), Puntland (Bosasso) and Somaliland (Hargeisa), which have quite different histories pertaining to in-migration and violence. While IDPs in Hargeysa and Mogadishu have started to gain attention from international organisations, very little is known about IDPs living in secondary or smaller cities such as Bosasso or Baidoa. This project will conduct interviews and compare IDPs perceptions and practices of security on the move and when settling into the city. The concern with IDPs and cities links the project to the emerging global urban agenda and the need to develop new approaches to urban sustainability, democratic governance and livelihood in cities. With the choice to study this from the viewpoints and experiences of IDPs, people who are most vulnerable are placed at the core of the knowledge production. This informs the choice of research methods, which, in addition to narrative interviews, also includes a photo-voice methodology. Photo-voice is a highly innovative research tool that gives 'voice' to people who are usually not heard or silenced. It does not merely rely on verbal capacities, but uses images to communicate peoples' perceptions of securities and insecurities in Somali cities. Selected IDPs will receive cameras and produce photographs illustrating (in-)security and (in-)secure places and experiences.

Main impact beneficiaries of the research project "Security on the Move" are identified within three broad areas: First, beneficiaries that need updated and differentiated insights on the vulnerabilities of urban populations in Somalia, with a particular emphasis on forcefully displaced populations. These include governance institutions in Somalia and their international partners. In this project UN-Habitat is a partner and main beneficiary who will ensure the communication of results through its networks. Second, 'representatives' of urban IDPs in the four cities will benefit directly from the research, as they will be enabled to communicate their concerns and these will be made visible in the planned exhibition. The third, more indirect beneficiaries, are organisations, researchers, and interest groups focusing on the promotion of urban sustainability and city development in fragile contexts and on wider questions of forced mobility. 

The organisation of the photo-voice exhibition is a cornerstone in the impact strategy. The exhibition is a tool to communicate research findings to a broader public, to empower vulnerable populations to express their views and to provide a platform for these populations to interact with city authorities and international organisations. The innovative research design ensures that the project is grounded in the local context in an unusual way. Since this approach transforms informants into researchers, local participants have a strong voice and become co-producers of knowledge. To achieve this result, the research process is organised in close collaboration with a local network organisation that has access and already established trust with mobile and vulnerable populations. 

The stakeholder workshop in the initiation phase of the project will bring the main researchers, research partners and key international stakeholders in sustainable city development, state-building and conflict prevention in dialogue with each other.

Further Resources:

Primary theme: 
Grant Reference: 
Project Status: 
Grant Category: 
Research Grant
Fund Start Date: 
October 1st, 2017
Fund End Date: 
March 31st, 2019
Fund Currency Code: 
Fund Value: 
peace studies
urban geography