With a population growth of 4.5% and around 1.2 million people, Hargeisa is a fast growing city and the capital of Somaliland.
However, the speed and scale of urbanisation increasingly poses challenges, such as meeting the accelerated demand for affordable housing, sustainable infrastructure including transport systems, basic services and jobs. For this reason, poverty and high unemployment remain widespread, threatening the livelihood of families and the lives of thousands of children.
Since 2008, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Hargeisa.
In Somaliland, around 30% of people in urban areas, including Hargeisa, live in poverty. The majority have been forced to move to Hargeisa due to conflict and natural disasters. They arrived here in search of safety and ways to survive. Families living in poverty often suffer from malnutrition, as they do not have the means to grow or buy goods. They live in low quality housing with neither access to safe sanitation facilities nor clean water to drink. Living in such conditions makes them vulnerable to other illnesses and disease – meanwhile healthcare is likewise not readily available. Unless families receive the support they need, children will drop out of school, be forced to work or left to fend for themselves.
In Somaliland, recurrent clan conflicts and droughts have forced many families to leave their land and move to congested internally displaced persons (IDP) sites, which are often overcrowded and poorly maintained. In 2020, around 19% of the population were internally displaced.
The internal displacement of communities and families has a severe impact on children as many families are separated. In these situations, children are particularly vulnerable to abuse, violence and exploitation as social norms break down and protective services are not available. The consequences of displacement, if unaddressed, can last for a lifetime, especially when it interrupts education and limits future opportunities.