IOM Global Solar Lantern Initiative Targets Displaced Families in Somalia

IOM distributes solar lanterns to displaced people in Somali camps. ©IOM 2015

Somalia - IOM has distributed solar lanterns to some 347 internally displaced people (IDPs) living in camps in Bossaso, Galkayo and Garowe, Somalia. The lanterns provide essential light at night in “off-the-grid” locations with little or no access to electricity.

To date, IOM Somalia has distributed over 7,000 solar lanterns mostly in IDP settlements. The programme, which helps some 42,000 people, has been supported by individuals, corporate partners and the Government of Japan.

IOM’s Solar Lantern Initiative eventually aims to help over 57,000 vulnerable families in camps and communities across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The lanterns will improve their health and safety, and support their children’s education.

“This is a small, but important step as we seek to help young people to study, eliminate the hazards associated with toxic kerosene lamp fumes, and make women who are vulnerable to attack at night feel safer,” says IOM Somalia health programme coordinator Dr. Chaiki Ito.

In Garowe, Galkayo and Bossaso families also often live in makeshift shelters constructed from worn out clothing, boxes, straw, tree trunks and vegetable oil tins. Many of these materials are flammable, putting IDPs at risk when they use fire as their main source of light. 

People are also at risk of gender-based violence, particularly at night. The country’s gender-based violence prevalence is one of the highest in the world and often goes under-reported. IDP settlements have limited security, poor living conditions, and limited clan protection. Women and girls from minority clans and female headed households are at particular risk.

Hamidah*, 40, has lived with her five daughters in a makeshift shelter at the Kosaar IDP settlement in Burao, Somaliland for 12 years. “I lived here for many years before these lanterns came and I wish they had come earlier. We feel much safer and we get more work done at night with these lanterns,” she says.

IDPs have been living in camps in Somalia since the collapse of the central government and the establishment of the Puntland State in 1998. They have settled there because they feel more secure than in their places of origin in Somalia’s South Central Zone.

Following previous distributions of solar lanterns in the Philippines and Ghana, last week’s distributions in Somalia mark another milestone as the Global Solar Lanterns Initiative seeks to raise USD 2 million for vulnerable migrants across the globe.

*Name changed.

For more information and to contribute to IOM’s Global Solar Lanterns Initiative please go to or email For further information please contact Ruth Mbugua at IOM Somalia, Tel. +254 710 366 128/708 985 810, Email: