IOM Somalia Rebuilds Women Livelihoods in the Gedo region of Somalia

The nearly over two decades of conflict in Somalia destroyed infrastructure and social systems leading to shocks such as price fluctuations, poor rainfall, potential eruption of resourced-based conflicts and loss of valuable community assets and livelihood sources. Despite efforts and interventions by the international community to improve the situation, pastoral, agro-pastoral and agricultural communities continue to experience numerous challenges that have left thousands of people in need of assistance and support. Garbahaarey district in the Gedo region of Somalia is one of the areas that continue to experience such and other livelihood-related challenges.

The challenge in the search for durable solutions for affected populations is huge but is attainable with real political and economic commitment by the national authorities and the humanitarian and development actors. IOM is committed to facilitating transition of displaced populations towards durable solutions and addressing the issues of youth, unemployment and irregular migration. IOM Somalia programmes aims at contributing towards increasing household income levels through short-term income generating activities such as cash for work and vocational skill training for IDPs and other vulnerable populations, providing humanitarian assistance to affected communities, and to engage in community based recovery programming for longer-term support.

As part of IOM’s global objective of advancing the socio-economic well-being of migrants and society and keeping in mind priorities of respective national authorities, IOM Somalia supported the project titled: “Increasing stability and human security of migrants and mobile populations in Somalia”. With financial support from the Government of Japan, IOM implemented the project in collaboration with regional authorities of Somaliland, Puntland state of Somalia and the Federal Government of Somalia between March 2014 and March 2016.

One of the key aspects of this project was providing new sources of income to migrants and mobile populations (MMPs) and migration affected communities. As a measure to increase stability and address multi-faceted needs among these target groups, IOM implemented several activities aimed at improving access to short-term income in Gedo region of Somalia.

The activities were implemented with support of local implementing partners including the Gedo Women Development Organization (GEWDO) including training and provision of grants to women and youth, agricultural support for both cash for work and seeds and tools, provision of 100 carts to pastoral and agro-pastoral community in rural villages and rehabilitation of two feeder roads through cash for work.

Barrey Abdulla, a 51 year old woman from Garbaaharey village of the Gedo region talks of her experience with the project. “I got an opportunity to join and be involved in activities supported in our village and thanks to IOM for the initiative. When I joined, I was not able to count money and keep record of my stock. Today look at me I am able to know goods I have in my shop.”

Barrey is a mother of 7 children (3 boys and 4 girls) and has been doing menial jobs to earn a living. She used to go to people’s homes to do house chores such as cleaning the house, washing clothes and fetching water and was being paid 880,000 Somali shilling (appro.40 USD) on monthly basis. After almost 12 months doing such jobs, Barrey felt that she should get better terms and perhaps be paid more frequently on a daily basis as she considered this an immediate way of meeting her immediate family basic needs.

From the paltry earnings Barrey used to get from doing menial jobs, she managed to save approximately 1,914,000 Somali shillings (approx. 87 USD), an amount which she considered enough to move into business as she saw the need to be self-reliant. She started a small teashop in her village that was mainly serving tea to residents.

During the start of the Government of Japan funded - IOM project in March 2014, Barrey was among the over 80 individuals (7 males and 73 females) selected to participate in the business skills and training activities in Garbaharey village. She, just like other participants, was nominated by the village committee in collaboration with IOM project staff.

Participants were trained for 5 days on small business management and further supported with $200 (approx. 4,400,000 Somali shillings) business start-up grant. Among the topics covered include basic small business management skills, basic book keeping, profits and loss management, proper use of mobile money transfer system locally called Electronic Voucher Cash (EVC  plus), customer/client relations and basic hygiene practices.

“I could not get enough money from the tea shop to meet basic needs of the family and sometimes we found ourselves in debts at the end of the month because of borrowing money from neighbors” says Barrey.

“I was lucky to have been part of the training. Look at me now! I can record all the credit I offer to customers and later follow them up. I also know how to estimate the materials I require in my tea shop and have a budget with prices of everything I need for the week” adds Barrey.

Besides being able to record her business operations and following up credits with her clients, Barrey was able to grow her business to a level that made it necessary to register with a local mobile money transfer company that enabled her clients to pay her through EVC Plus. Because of the bulky nature and the risks of carrying around a lot of local currency notes, most suppliers in the locality encouraged their clients to utilize mobile money transfer services. Barrey was also able to buy goods from these stores using EVC system, thanks to the skills acquired during the training.

“I used the money I was given to buy good chairs, tables and utensils I need in my tea shop. I have since got more customers and my daily earnings have since increased. Sometimes I remain with around 154,000 Somali shillings a day (approx. 7 USD) after removing all expenses. At least I can now send my 3 children to school and take them to the clinic” adds Barrey.

IOM continues to facilitate access to livelihood opportunities for vulnerable members of society.

For further information, please contact Yahye SHIRE at IOM Somalia, Tel: +252615949473, Email: ashire@mcops.org