Lead Researcher: Study of Women’s Land Rights and Somali Minatory Territorial Rights

Research is a major theme in Nagaad Network’s strategic approach to programming. Nagaad Network recognizes that researches on women rights in Somaliland can make important contributions toidentify issues with women in economic development, political participation, women education and girls’ enrolment, women access to justice, and women’s’ reproductive health issues.


Majority of the population in Somaliland depends on livestock for their livelihood sustenance practicing nomadic pastoralism. This production system involves regular migration of people and livestock over time and space, according to the availability of water and pasture. Water sources (mainly streams, ponds and wells) are often communally used and accessed freely by clan members and their affiliates. Rangeland resources vary between well-endowed areas, which tend to be over used and less well-endowed areas, which tend to be disregarded. Contradictions between the state and the pastoralists over ownership of land persist: pastoralists usually exercise territorial right over land they occupy and the state which views pastoralists as having occupational rights which incur tax. Moreover, increase in population and environmental changes occasioned by climate changes have resulted in migration to urban areas and changing production system where more people have turned to farming – the livestock economy being supplemented by mixed farming.

New developments such as oil and natural gas exploration is claiming land, most of which is pastureland – inaccessibility to land marked for oil exploration/exploitation will add to existing pressure on pasture land.

The study is commissioned by FAO through Nagaad in order to have a comprehensive understanding of status land rights of women and minority groups in Somaliland

Land as a unit of production and livelihood

Land (especially farm, grazing and urban land) remains an important factor in the past, present and potentially future conflicts in Somalia. The majority of Somali people depend on pastoral production system where livestock rearing (camel, cattle, goats and sheep) form the foundation of their livelihoods. Hence land territory and its control are central to the sustenance of livelihoods.

Agrarian practice and urban lifestyles – new phenomena to the Somali people introduced by colonialism and which are substantially different lifestyles from their traditional nomadic pastoral background, have created demand for land for farming and urban settlements. The increased demands for land have often caused violent confrontations – which continue to happen to this day.

Historically, clans formulate and enforce their own, informal regulations for managing natural resources. In places where there is some level of authority, a combination of Xeer, Islamic Sharia law and the pre 1991 penal code have been used to decide control over specific uses of land and natural resources. This sense of organization was possible through traditional system with elders playing central role in community governance.

Increased population and rapid urbanization have compounded the situation of increased demands for land. An urban land market has rapidly evolved in Hargeisa and other towns in Somaliland. With no clear policy and regulations in place, the land market is uncontrolled with speculators taking advantage of the policy and regulatory vacuum to illegally grab land belonging to individuals’, communities (e.g. common grazing land) and public land for speculative purpose increasing the already tense situation.

The prospecting for oil has added to the tension on land ownership issue. This has resulted in confrontations between communities and oil companies on one hand and communities and the government on the other hand over control of territories where oil exploration is planned or taking place. 

It is not clear how women and minority groups are faring with respect to their land and territorial rights in terms of access, use and control of land resources. The study of women’s land rights and Somali minority group’s territorial rights is meant to shed light on these issues.


Research as a programming tool for Nagaad


Research is a major theme in Nagaad Network’s strategic approach to programming. Nagaad Network recognizes that researches on women rights in Somaliland can make important contributions toidentify issues with women in economic development, political participation, women education and girls’ enrolment, women access to justice, and women’s’ reproductive health issues. 


The findings are used to advocate for adopting gender responsive policies, legislations and systems in a way all social groups including minority, youth, women and people with disability are represented to find out a consensus based decisions on all matters.


Description of the assignment

Overall Objective

The overall objective of this assignment is to elaborate women’s and minority group’s land rights (access, use and control) in both urban and rural areas and how traditional practices and the ordinary laws support or undermine the land rights of women and minority groups.

Specific Objectives

  • To determine women land rights in terms of access to, use and control of land (in both urban and rural areas)
  • Assess extent to which traditional and religious principles and practices, civil laws and the Somaliland Constitution (Supreme Law of the Land) support or undermine women’s land rights
  • To determine the territorial right of minority clans (groups) and the extent to which these right have been respected or underminedby different institutions (traditional and government).


The lead researcher will conduct the following activities:

  1. Briefing with FAO land unit team in order to develop common understanding of the scope of the assignment and the key issues to be addressed.
  2. Informing and and raising awareness among relevent Government Authorities and CSO on the study and its purpose
  3. Conduct desk study/literature review to look women and minority group’s land right issue and access to land acquision and use, legal and policy issues with respect to the tenure and land disputes and preference to the land dispute resolution mechanisms
  4. Design study methodology and required tools for the study and update the assignment work plan.
  5. Train, deploy and supervise field reseachers/enumerators (mobile data collection may be used)
  6. Conduct field based assessment (key informant interviews, focus group discussion and questionnaires), analysing data and report synthesis
  7. Facilitate validation workshop on the findings of the study with stakholders;
  8. Finalize study report, debrief FAO land and deliver final synthesis report

Proposed geographical coverage of the study (See TOR pdf file below)


Expected outputs/Deliverables

  1. Developed data collection tools
  2. Draft technical report
  3. Validation process of the data collected from the field (Input collection from the workshop participants)
  4. Recommendations to enage with traditional leaders to enable them understand women’s land rights developed  as part of the report
  5. Submit Finalized technical report to Nagaad Network.
  6. At the end of the assaignment, the researcher will deliver all copies (Hard and Soft) of the data and data collection tools to Nagaad Network.

Qualifications, skills and professional experience:

  1. University degree in social sciences, law, land and natural resource management, development studies, conflict studies, public policy or other related field
  2. Minimum 7 years of relevant work experience in social development, legal researches, policy formulation, assessment or research works.  Field experience in conflict analysis, peace-building required.
  3. Knowledge of the Somali social, cultural, political, economic context is highly desired.
  4. Fluent in spoken and written English and Somali.
  5. Flexible and capable to interact with people and amenable to accept critiques and open to the opinion on the different opinions;

Proposed structure of the expected report

The Technical Report is to be structured as per outlined below.


Cover Page (to include report title, logos of FAO and Nagaad at the top of the page)



Table of Content

Executive summary

Section 1 - Background of the Study

Section 2 - History and geography setting of Somaliland (this will basically comprise of the literature review)

Section 3 - Methodology of the study

Section 4 - Exclusion of women from customary structure, and Minority groups from public institutions 

Section Status of women’sland rights

Section 6 - Mino Impact poor land rights ofwomen and Minority groups on households’ food and livelihood security

Section 8 - Conclusion and Recommendations

Annex 1 – Policy briefs and recommendations on women’s land rights and territorial rights of Somali minorities

Annex 2 – Lists of organizations and/or officials interviewed

Annex 3 – Profiles of study areas

Annex 4 – Assessment Tools

Annex 5 – References


The lead researcher may include additional chapters sections, sub sections and annexes as deemed necessary