Livelihoods and protection in Kismaayo, Somalia

by Simon Narbeth and Calum McLeanFebruary 2004

Population displacement is a feature of many conflicts: people may flee violence or human rights abuse, or they may become displaced because the minimal requirements for life are unmet. The displaced often face special difficulties not shared by other groups touched by conflict or disaster. The displaced are often disadvantaged in terms of their access to public facilities, compared to a host or indigenous community. Their location may influence their access to humanitarian assistance, and their ability to survive and regain their economic security. The humanitarian challenge is to deliver assistance and protection in what are often unfavourable environments, especially when the authorities are unable or unwilling to act.

This paper is one of the first attempts to put livelihoods and protection into practice as a thoroughly integrated framework. Many of the problems facing internally-displaced people (IDPs) are related to the protective environment. In such circumstances, assistance must be designed in such a way that it will promote the protection of vulnerable groups without adding to their existing burden.

This paper is based on the findings of field research on livelihoods, protection and IDPs conducted in Kismaayo and the Lower Juba Valley in May 2003, under the auspices of OCHA-Somalia.

The research had three main aims:

  • to obtain a clear understanding of the situation of IDPs and other vulnerable communities in Kismaayo, and the issues that they faced;
  • to obtain a clear understanding of the operating environment in Kismaayo and the areas from which the displaced originated; and
  • to develop an operational plan to better protect and assist the internally displaced and other vulnerable groups.

This paper begins with a brief description of the livelihoods and protection framework that informed the research, and the methodology the research employed. It then provides a brief overview of the findings and describes the concept of a phased operational plan.