Building hope, one home at a time.
The situation is heartbreaking. To return to their homeland, after years, even decades, of displacement, they must walk. Many over 100 miles. Carrying everything they own on their back. Often, watching others suffer or even die during the journey. And once they arrive in Kismayo, Somalia, there’s literally nothing there. Nearly two decades of conflict have destroyed much of Somalia’s infrastructure. There are few roads. Unlivable structures. No jobs.
Fortunately, the American Refugee Committee (ARC) is there. With three durable, livable, scalable home options designed by RSP for the thousands of families in dire need. The third project since we began our strategic partnership with ARC, the homes may have the biggest impact and hold the most meaning.
Previous base shelters were made of plywood and provided little ventilation, a critical element in Kismayo’s exceedingly hot, dry, windy climate. Within just days, our team learned all they could about the geography, existing conditions and available building materials. We considered the continuing conflict, the emotional weight returning refugees are carrying, and the fact that most are children. We sought input from local Somalis regarding our design to understand what home means in their community, what is valued, how they live.
The homes we designed are safe, easily built using local materials, customizable, and support entrepreneurial initiatives. Each option starts with a flexible 2×2 meter module made of interlocking bricks, made on site of rammed earth, with a corrugated steel roof. The roof is pitched precisely to gain passive cooling while the bricks can be configured to allow ventilation. Each home features a front porch which can be personalized and used for retail or other entrepreneurial ventures. We introduced the idea of a loft, unfamiliar to most native Somalis, to provide additional living space or storage. Modular components such as solar panels or stove chimneys can be easily incorporated. Each base module can be expanded in increments of 4×4 meters.
ARC staff are training returning Somalis on how to build the homes. Each homeowner is encouraged to participate in the process, building empowerment and equity. Our shared vision is to build a community. To go beyond just providing basic shelter. To co-create thriving neighborhoods.