How the town of Hudur is Pioneering Resilience in Somalia

UNDP Somalia
5 min readApr 28, 2024

“We are under siege, our roads are blocked, we want to support youth and women, but we need help.”

A year on from the start of stabilization and early recovery activities in Hudur to enhance the community’s resilience, Hudur’s Mayor Omar Atuu reflects on the achievements and shares his hopes for the future.

In the Southwest State of Somalia’s Bakool region, Hudur town is home to an estimated 11,000 people. Historically a hub of trade, it was liberated from the Al Shabaab (AS) control in 2014 when AMISOM pushed the insurgents out of the main town. As they withdrew, they left a trail of destroyed roads and other infrastructures in and out of the town, leaving its population in a state of acute vulnerability and in need of assistance. Despite losing control of the main town, the terrorist group-maintained control of the surrounding territories effectively cutting access to Hudur.

The roadblocks and controls remain effective as of today and have hindered access to the city and movements within the district, limiting the flow of food and other commodities to donkey carts and airlifted aid. With reduced supply and restricted access to local products, compounded by inflation in global food prices, and little external interaction, essential goods became less affordable, shaking the fragile local economy. Adding to the long-term security issues, constant climate shocks have led to an ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Elected Mayor Omar Atuu remembers life before the siege and blockades started in the area:

“Life in the community was quite good, but in 2014 AS started to lockdown the city. They blocked all roads that come into Hudur, which made people’s lives more difficult. The price of food is much higher; the availability of food products is not even guaranteed. It became extremely hard for people to get their daily food products.”

Mayor Atuu at his Office in Hudur.

When the 2022 government offensive against al-Shabaab yielded the most comprehensive territorial gains since the mid-2010s, it marked a breakthrough in a protracted crisis, as the government partnered with international partners, including UNDP, to deliver on a National Stabilization Strategy to help rebuild livelihoods in Hudur.

For UNDP, delivering tailored and effective assistance to communities in need became a priority, to tackle a range of development issues across many sectors. Following a consultative process with the community, Southwest state, and local government actors in Hudur, and in coordination with other stakeholders, an area-based integrated stabilization program (ABIP) was designed, to address priority needs. The ABIP strategy was crucial in responding to Somalia’s intricate socio-political landscape and dynamic environmental conditions, with Hudur, (and Barawe to a lesser degree) becoming the first stabilization intervention points. Speaking to UNDP, Mayor Atuu underlined the importance of the non-sectoral, whole-of-society impact of the area-based Stabilization efforts, in key areas for Hudur residents, namely the rebuilding of the market, the youth center, the police station, and the women’s center:

“The police officers can now work efficiently and comfortably; they can even work more motivated. It was a great support on the side of security. People who have small businesses in an open-air market in town are now getting their space in a building that offers good conditions, without fearing the rains, the sun, fire breakouts, and all these things. It is meant for small businesses, and around 90% of them are women, so this helps to increase the economic development women, and the town.”

Mayor Atuu adds that the youth centre will go a long way to push youth forward, as almost 75% of Hudur’s population belongs to this age range.

“I normally put more effort into the youth, so that they can have their chances in the governance system, in the district. These young men and women need to be supported. They have needs to be met and they need to be taught vocational skills because if they don’t get the job and the support they need, they will leave, or join AS or another group. So, we are very focused on the youth in every sector.”

Women also benefited from the rehabilitation of the women’s center with solar power lighting systems that encourage community engagement activities to take place at night. Additionally, generative dialogue sessions with the community and learning exchanges for alternative justice practitioners were conducted.

Implementing interventions as an integrated, coordinated response from UNDP, and applying adaptive management principles ensuring faster and better responsiveness to the context, has led to a significant impact on the perception of safety, security and empowerment, specifically for women and youth, laying the groundwork for long-term resilience and recovery, and fostering positive change.

However, the stabilization interventions did not come without its challenges. As Mayor Atuu underlines, there were several obstacles to overcome, including unexpected flooding that limited operations and the lack of specialized personnel to oversee construction sites. Moreover, the blockades represent the greatest obstacle:

“In Hudur, construction companies face daily challenges because the town is under siege and the roads are blocked, so getting the materials needed is very difficult.”

Nonetheless, challenges were surpassed through airplane deliveries and small-scale road transports to avoid being caught by the AS. Phase one of these initiatives is coming to its last days, with positive outcomes and feedback both from the Hudur community, and beyond.

Mayor Atuu kicks-off the road construction work in Hudur.

“I am getting questions from people in Baidoa, and all other locations. People are very happy to see the development that has been happening in Hudur and they are curious to know how we are getting these stabilization projects done. I always tell them that we make this happen because of the partnership we have with UNDP.”

Asked about his expectations for the future, Mayor Atuu does not deny that there is still a long way to go and remains positive about the possibility of continuing these initiatives with UNDP’s support.

“We are under siege, we are under blockades, and we cannot move outside unless it is by airplane. We want to support our women, and youth, but we need help to do that. I hope these projects go on because they are essential for our economic recovery. They push people to get motivated, they give them hope. Our hope is 100% positive!”

Story by Carolina Silva, under the guidance of the UNDP Stabilization Team in Somalia. Photo credits: Mayor Atuu. Read more about UNDP Somalia at



UNDP Somalia

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) works to achieve the eradication of poverty and the reduction of inequalities and exclusion.