Q&A: Gerard Waite on managing Somalia's displacement crisis

Gerard Waite, Somalia chief of mission at the International Organization for Migration. Photo by: ©IOM Somalia 2016

The humanitarian sector in Somalia is struggling to keep pace with an escalating food security crisis. Civilians fleeing famine-like conditions, including from areas controlled by militant group Al-Shabaab, face poor living conditions, disease outbreaks and uncertainty about their ability to return home.

About 2 million people are now internally displaced within Somalia, including those who fled before and after the current drought, according to the International Organization for Migration’s Somalia Chief of Mission Gerard Waite.

The IOM is following the movement of populations through its Displacement Tracking Matrix program, a system used to track and monitor human flight. The organization is also co-lead of the Camp Coordination and Camp Management cluster, together with the United Nations Refugee Agency. The group works with the Somali government to improve service delivery and living conditions in camps for internally displaced people.

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With just 16 percent of the funds IOM says it needs in 2017, the organization is prioritizing immediate needs such as improving shelter conditions. Waite spoke with Devex about his organization’s strategies for responding to the displacement crisis. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

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About the author

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    Sara Jerving

    Sara Jerving is Devex's East Africa Correspondent based in Nairobi. She is a reporter and producer, whose work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Vice News, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Nation magazine, among others. Sara holds a master's degree in business and economic reporting from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where she was a Lorana Sullivan fellow.