Reclaiming public land

Hargeisa, capital of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, has been the site of dramatic shifts in urban property relations over the past two decades. The Hargeisa municipality is currently in the process of reclaiming land. In one sense it is about improving the city’s land management capacities, to deal with and resolve land conflicts in order to prevent violence and maintain public order. On the other hand the municipality tries to reclaim land that used to be property of the former Siyad Barre government, now occupied by private land users.  

– As a result of war and unplanned land use there is no public space in the city. No parks, no recreational areas – nothing. Everything is privately owned. Therefore, the city needs to reclaim and re-create public land, says Tobias Hagman, researcher at Roskilde University.

There is a particular clan distribution in Hargeisa, neighbourhoods are often associated with a certain clan. However, the commodification of land means that anybody with sufficient money can buy land independently of clan affiliation.

– Still, clans are important. If you belong to a clan it will be more difficult for others to snatch away your plot of land. Clan membership helps to protect your property, says Tobias Hagman.

Watch a filmed lecture at NAI with Tobias Hagman.

To the top