Spatial segregation in Hargeysa: clan as a constraining influence in land markets
Michael Walls (UCL)
Paper short abstract:
Somali cities are strongly spatially segmented along clan lines. Although Hargeysa has seen rapid growth over 30 years, this segregation remains in place. This paper argues that the informal networks that guide land transactions will likely maintain this situation in the foreseeable future.
Paper long abstract:
Superficially, Somali cities are open and dynamic environments in which the cost of land is the primary determinant as to where an individual or household chooses to live. In practice, though, urban areas are strongly segmented along clan lines, with trust mechanisms effectively based on clan networks, and preventing this segmentary system from changing as might be expected. As the capital city and commercial centre of the internationally unrecognised state of Somaliland, Hargeysa has grown rapidly in the years since its near-total destruction in 1988. Yet, as with other Somali cities, Hargeysa neighbourhoods remain strongly associated with specific clan groups. This paper outlines the situation and argues that the informal networks that guide land transactions remain so strong that there is little sign of this situation changing quickly. This has wide implications, not just for planners, but in political and social spheres also, with service provision in given areas of the city equated with clan and therefore political privilege or the reverse. In the past, it has fuelled conflict over key resources such as the airport, which is seen as a 'clan asset' by dint of its location, and similarly with respect to the provision of water and other infrastructure services. In spite of the importance of the phenomenon it is largely discussed only in oblique terms, and this paper seeks to outline the terms of a discussion that might inform urban development efforts.
- Cities and social justice