Transnational Durable Solutions for Urban Migratory Challenges: Fostering Connections and Commonalities with Internally Displaced Youth Youth

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Transnational Durable Solutions for Urban Migratory Challenges: Fostering Connections and Commonalities with Internally Displaced Youth Youth

  • March 12, 2024
  • By Admin: Osman
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Abdirahman Ahmed Mohamed
Program Manager for Early Recovery (IOM Nigeria) and Livelihood/CBI)


Abdi Aadam
Consultant based in Nairobi

Corresponding mail:


Displaced youth in Somalia not just suffer and struggle in challenging humanitarian circumstances, but as humans also have own priorities and aspirations. Some of them might succeed achieving own stated plans and ambitions. Often, most of them struggle to overcome numerous societal obstacles. Authorities in collaboration with diverse UN agencies, transnational NGOs and civic communities often partially engage and support the specific needs of the young people (who represent most of the society). However much of these initiatives and engagements depart from around and beyond the youth themselves. Few transnational efforts directly engage and include the youth from the start. Such initiatives could provide durable sustainable solutions- that eventually might foster the creation of connections and commonalities among and in relation with the internally displaced youth.

This brief commentary therefore proposes a complementary bottom-up approach that emphasize the priorities and aspirations of the youth horizontally- overtime connecting them to the policies and priorities of local and national authorities, the UN transnational agencies and NGOs. Inspired by the idea of durable solutions and environmental recycling, this briefing suggests a dynamic youth-centric approach to the Social Dialogue and Sustainable Recycling for the efforts and ideas of the Displaced Youth.



This briefing explores the complex issues confronted by internally displaced youth in Somalia, particularly within urban settings. Unlike in the past where the main causes related to raging conflicts, ore recently this displacement owes to factors such as climate change as well as prolonged continuing conflicts. Research shows that urbanization and governance challenges contribute to the dynamics of migration pattern, with climate change increasingly emerging as a primary driving force. Climate-related issues, including droughts and flooding often coerce rural populations to seek refuge in urban areas, where authorities and international organization periodically provide support. But at the same people also confront numerous adjustment challenges in the social, political as well as cultural aspects.

In attempting to address these overlapping and complicated challenges, this briefing calls for a comprehensive bottom-up sustainable solutions. A solution that advocates for empowering communities, particularly youth. Through a bottom-up, community-driven development approaches, the strategy additionally seeks to instill local ownership and vision. Overtime this will require external partners, such the various UN agencies and NGOs, facilitating horizontally cultivated community-based processes. This will in return hopefully foster a feeling of confident and self-reliance among community members, particularly among the youth, eventually making them independent.

The briefing therefore proposes practical initiatives, such as direct engagement with internally displaced youth. Initially, the aim is to listen and comprehend youth-based stated priorities and aspirations. The overall goal is to eventually align these aspirations with the objectives of local and national authorities as well as that of external organizations. The expectation is to bridge existing gaps between the needs of displaced youth and existing support structures, fostering a genuine dialogue for sustainable urban development.

According to UN estimates, most of the global population currently resides in urban environments (Kosovac et al, 2020). Situations expected to increase in the coming years. Many of these city dwellers endure challenging living conditions, including overcrowded neighborhoods, inadequate access to clean water, electricity, sanitation, welfare, schooling, and health systems (United Nations Report, 2021). Despite these hardships, migration to cities continues unabated, driven by the pursuit of opportunities, jobs, and livelihoods. Africa is experiencing a rapid urbanization trend, influenced by historical legacies, governance issues, and limited opportunities in rural areas (Kanos and Heitzig, 2020). Societies, like the Somalis, recovering from prolonged civil strife, face additional challenge so climate change overtaking direct conflicts as the primary driver of migration patterns and internal displacement (

Prioritizing Social Dialogue and Sustainable Recycling of benefitable ideas and activities for Displaced Youth


Displaced Youth at Urban environments in Somalia; Authorities (both at Federal, Regional, and local levels; and UN agencies (IOM, UN- Habitat, UNHCR, OHCHR) NGOs should engage a practical dialogical process in at least six interlinked concrete stages: The first the concrete empirical gathering and writing of the priorities and aspirations of the displaced youth in urban environments. Second is discussing and proposing inputs and modifications. Third is the alignments of the priorities and aspirations of the involved actors. Fourth is the implementation of approved priorities and aspirations. Fifth is the evaluating and recycling of best practices. Finally assessing and reporting and building upon recycled best practices.

 In the pursuing of inclusive employment sectors in Somalia, the imperative is to cultivate sustainable entrepreneurship solutions that provide access to goods, services, and livelihood viable opportunities. The essence rests on innovative collaboration with critical economic sectors, transnational diaspora communities as well as relevant political and economic institutions, in the process fostering dialogic approaches and co-creation. This entails the creation of employment, affordable products and if possible, concrete welfare services. The aim is to accelerate local economic development, while particularly paying specific attention to vulnerable opportunity seekers among internally displaced youth, into existing and emerging employment opportunity platforms.

In addition, focus on people’s wishes and priorities highlights the importance of concrete living conditions representing a major driving force in overcoming existing community as well as in the long-term policy challenges. This is also in accordance with the priorities and plans of both local and federal authorities, as well as the priorities of external partners.

Such comprehensive bottom-up approach, taking the positions of all relevant actors into consideration and adding it into the equation ensures durable solutions not just for the displaced, but also the wider communities. Not addressing protracted urban displacement challenges, might eventually lead to the consolidation of inequality and even extreme poverty, sanitation challenges and other social mobility obstacles. Furthermore, political and security deteriorations impact the wider wellbeing of the whole society.

The proposed developments and durable solutions seek and imagine the promotion of transformative impact on displaced communities, particularly the youth. This will happen through the empowerment of such communities with the strengthening of local authorities and well the creation of positive collaborations between all relevant actors and stakeholders. Key focus areas include the authorities together with the private sector insisting on collaborative partnerships that generate confidence and self-reliance. Such approach helps to reintegrate and provide durable solutions to the numerous challenges that these vulnerable communities, particularly the youth, often confront.

Social Sustainability

Societal challenges including the efforts of introducing and pursuing social entrepreneurship development, so far representing significant hurdles for sustained social progress. This briefing identifies concrete challenges and recommends strategies for promoting social entrepreneurship. Research shows that such comprehensive approaches could have greater impact if parties, both the public and the private sectors, adopt specific legislation emphasizing joint social entrepreneurships and sustainability combined bottom-up local initiatives (Hora, Kalinin and Lebedev, 2023).

Currently, internally displaced Somalis confront numerous downturn challenges, spanning from displacement, social and mental health, discrimination, and transformation in cultural identities. The protracted displacement situation therefore requires both policy and practical approaches addressing the challenges internally displaced people in urban environments confront (United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, 2024).

On the ground there are already existing humanitarian and developmental actions and strategies by among others the UNHCR. Such strategies managing displacement, focusing on basic needs of the refugees within and beyond Somalia (UNHCR, Global Trends, Forced Displacement, 2022). Regardless of where these displaced people flee, they often confront discrimination, adaptation as well as overall well-being of particularly the Somali young adults, often struggling with social integration in prevailing culturally sensitive interventions and segregations.

Regarding environmental efforts, there are successful cases of creating green spaces for the displaced people, and for the wider Somali context (UNSOS, 2023). Departing from earlier initiatives and engagements, we herewith propose complements to these efforts. This includes the dialogical community oriented/centered social sustainability imitative. The youth depart from where they are to recycle and rehabilitate.


Practical Engagement

In the contextual landscape of Somalia, the plight of internally displaced youth reflects the intricate interplay between human existence, environmental challenges, and geopolitical upheavals. As humanity increasingly inhabits desolate and resource-scarce urban spaces, the persistent surge in migration attests to the unwavering pursuit of opportunities amidst existential adversity.

In the African context, urbanization is a prevailing force influenced by historical colonial legacies, governance gaps, and limited welfare in rural areas. The shift from rural to urban migration, once fueled by direct conflicts, now finds its momentum in the force of climate change. The global impact of climate challenges disrupts traditional coping mechanisms, eroding Indigenous knowledge passed down through generations.

Climate change, now a predominant factor, subjects vulnerable societies like the Somalis to incessant droughts and flooding, displacing agrarian communities and impacting societal structures. Urban environments, with their semblance of authority, international aid agencies, and NGOs, become havens for those seeking refuge from ecological turmoil.

Over four decades of conflict have shaped the displacement narrative in Somalia. Initially driven by security concerns, the movement shifted from urban to rural areas during the civil war. However, the current trajectory witnesses an increased displacement from rural landscapes to urban centers, driven by the cyclical onslaught of climate-induced environmental transformations. This demographic shift concentrates internally displaced individuals, including the young, women, and children, in major urban centers in their pursuit of sustenance and opportunities.

In the pursuit of sustainable solutions, empowerment of communities, particularly marginalized youth, and women, is imperative through a bottom-up, community-driven development paradigm. By fostering local ownership and vision, external entities become facilitators of indigenous processes, relinquishing the role of passive benefactors.

Practical engagements must therefore transcend discourse, initiating a dialogue that addresses the existential reality of displaced youth. Direct interaction becomes the method for understanding their aspirations and priorities within urban environments. This engagement, rooted in the lived experiences of the displaced, seeks to harmonize their visions with the objectives of authorities and external organizations. Through this constructive collaboration, policy makers and practitioners point to and   scrutinize identified gaps and paving the way for a modified implementation model that aligns with the genuine needs and dreams of the displaced youth.

The essence lies in the sincere dialogue between external entities and the internally displaced youth, focusing on expanding practical engagements to envision a collaborative effort that transcends conventional aiding models. By situating displaced youth as active participants in shaping their urban aspirations and destinies, this approach aims to address the multitude of challenges posed by urbanization, migration, and climate change.


This briefing focuses on the multilayered challenges confronted by internally displaced youth in Somalia, particularly within urban contexts. Under such contexts often climate change, prolonged conflicts, and governance issues contributes to a complex dynamic of migration patterns. The briefing proposes a comprehensive and sustainable bottom-up approach. The approach emphasizes among others the empowerment of communities, especially the youth, through community-driven development strategies.

Furthermore, the proposed strategy seeks to introduce local ownership and visionary actions, also relying on external partners like UN agencies and NGOs to join and facilitate community-based processes. By engaging directly with internally displaced youth, the aim is to understand and address their stated priorities and aspirations, fostering self-reliance and confidence among community members, particularly among the youth. The briefing underscores the need for practical initiatives that bridge the gap between the needs of displaced youth and existing support structures, promoting a genuine dialogue for sustainable urban development.

The briefing further emphasizes the role of social entrepreneurship and sustainability in addressing societal challenges, proposing legislative emphasis on joint social entrepreneurship initiatives.

The plight of displaced Somalis involves not only physical displacement but also social as well as identity transformation challenges. This makes necessity both policy and practical approaches to address the multifaceted challenges confronted by internally displaced people in urban environments. This also requires acknowledging existing actions and strategies, such as those by UNHCR, in the process proposing complementary efforts where internally displaced people engage in dialogical social sustainability initiatives, in not just protecting the environment but also expressing and pursuing innovative and transformative socio-economic and socio-cultural ideas and initiatives.



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Hora, A., Kalinin, A. and Lebedev, O. (2023) Economic legal and psychological aspects of the introduction of social entrepreneurship in Ukraine. Адреса редакції, 16.

Hyndman, J. (1997) Managing and containing displacement after the cold war: UNHCR and Somali refugees in Kenya. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees/Refuge, 16(5), 6-10.

Kanos, D and Heitzig, C. (2020) Figures of the Week: Africa’s Urbanization Dynamics. Accessed 26 August 2022,

Kosovac, A., Acuto, M. and Jones, T. L. (2020) Acknowledging urbanization: A survey of the role of cities in UN frameworks. Global policy, 11(3), 293-304.

Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (2022), accessed 4th February 2024.

Stark, L., Plosky, W. D., Horn, R. and Canavera, M. (2015) ‘He always thinks he is nothing’: the psychosocial impact of discrimination on adolescent refugees in urban Uganda. Social Science & Medicine, 146, 173-181.

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UNSOS (2023) Partners unveil campaign to green Somalia during World Environment Day,, accessed the 4th February 2024