Rental subsidies for Internally Displaced People in Somalia

UNHabitat and partners assist internally displaced people in Somalia to obtain security and stability by combining support in livelihoods and tenure security. 

Contact details

Submitted by: Christophe Lalande, Leader, Housing Unit

Email: [email protected]



Introduction to the project 


Federal Republic of Somalia




This Good Practice is a rental scheme combined with a livelihood intervention as well as Housing, Land and Property (HLP) services.

A total of eighty households were provided with integrated assistance comprising of rental coverage for a 12-month period, Income Generating Activities (IGA) grants, and business skills development.

The rental subsidy and livelihood services were complemented with provision of information, specialized counselling, and legal assistance services to enable beneficiaries to exercise their HLP rights.

The Mogadishu Rental Subsidy Component is a pilot project and the first of its kind ever conducted in Somalia. The pilot has creatively and successfully addressed the central challenge to protracted displacement. It answers how to secure tenure for displacement-affected communities in Mogadishu.

Main activities of the Good Practice 

According to the Mogadishu Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) profiling of 2016, IDPs most at risk of forced evictions are evicted every six months. This pilot had three central aims:

  • to increase tenure security of IDPs by 100% (12 months);
  • to ensure sustainability using livelihoods injection (Income Generating Activities) for the households; and
  • analysing if combining livelihoods and tenure security results in reducing inhibiting factors to local integration and reduces the influence of external debilitating factors such as the role of gatekeepers.

The goal of these innovative solutions is to address forced evictions and tenure insecurity through the piloting of the first rental subsidy scheme in Somalia. Households were targeted with a rental subsidy of up to 80USD per month for 1 year, an income generating activity instalment of 1,000USD (500USD in two instalments) as well as a seven month food basket.

The rental subsidy programme is comprised of four components:

  • Community participation and awareness
  • Improved access to housing and land rights through rental subsidies
  • Access to livelihoods
  • Access to justice for violations of HLP rights


  • Banaadir Regional Authority
  • The European Union
  • UNDP

How challenges were overcome

The pilot identified that rental subsidy and livelihood schemes are not suited to the most vulnerable households; those with disabilities and chronic illnesses, young single mothers and those with distinct needs. Rental subsidies work better when the family has a range and diverse composition of mixed education levels and abilities. Paramount in the design of any rental scheme is a thorough assessment and profiling of the people in the households.

A significant challenge was the phase out of the project. Although 89% of households will successfully continue to locally integrate, what are the solutions for the 11% that will not?

Safety nets need to be built in for households that default on projects such as this one in order to protect households when their livelihoods fail and they are unable to sustain rent or face external shocks.

The rental markets in Mogadishu are understudied, underdeveloped and not regulated. What this pilot has managed to do is outline the potential for the rental sector. There is ample demand for rental housing at all socio-economic levels, particularly for low cost housing. However, the government-led approach to the engagement of the private sector and the development of the legal and policy frameworks that protect IDPs and low-income families is paramount in safeguarding the most vulnerable.

Results of the Good Practice

After a year of renting

  • Housing:

    • 89% of the households stated that once the project has ended they will be able to continue paying their rents.
    • Only 3/80 households have faced an eviction threat since the establishment of the project and the threat was resolved through mediation.
    • 10/80 disputes between landlords or neighbours. Prior to the commencement of the project all of the households had been evicted at least once before.


  • Livelihoods:
    • 100% of households identified an increase in household income by the end of the project.
    • Household income levels at the end of the project were significant: 19 households were in the 50-100USD per month range; 23 in the 100-150USD range; 8 in the 150-200, 11 in the 250-300 range and 2 households had an income of over 300USD per month. 55% of the households at end of the project had an income above 100USD per month.
    • At the beginning of the project 55/80 households stated that they had one source of income and 25/80 had two. At the end of the project 41/80 had one source of income, 38/80 had two sources of income. This is a 16% improvement.