Solar Lanterns Empower Female Migrants in the Puntland State of Somalia

Puntland State of Somalia (June 2016)

Decades of conflict, insecurity, and consequent displacements put women and girls in Somalia at high risk of gender-based violence (GBV) including domestic violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage.

This is particularly true for migrants such as internally displaced persons (IDPs) in IDP settlements due to limited security environment, the requirement to undertake risky livelihood practices to survive, and limited clan protection.

In this context, since 2012, IOM, in close partnerships with key stakeholders, has been building the capacity of community leaders, raising awareness on GBV, and providing a range of services including psychosocial support, medical assistance, legal assistance and alternative source of livelihood, through its multi-sectoral integrated health and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programme.

Since 2014, IOM, with generous financial support from the European Commission (EC) and Government of Japan, has been implementing a project entitled “Prevention of Child Trafficking and Gender-based Violence (GBV) as well as Protection and Care for Victims in Somalia”. Through this project, as a GBV prevention measure, IOM has distributed a total of 872 solar lanterns to vulnerable migrants and host communities in Garowe, Bossaso and Galkayo where there is a large number of IDPs.

Recently, IOM Somalia’s monitoring team visited Rukia Ainab Aden, a 40 year old business woman who benefited from IOM’s solar lantern distribution and is now operating a small shop in her IDP settlement. She narrated her story to the team:

“I am a single mother of three children and also live with three family relatives. I have been operating this shop business for more than eight months now and this is where we all get our daily bread,” explains Rukia.

“I sell these items (pointing at the consumer goods and groceries in her shop) to the people living in this area (the IDP settlement). People also come and charge their telephones (cell phones) in my shop and pay me about five hundred Somali shilling (approximately US$ 0.75). However, electricity is switched on at 7:00 p.m. and switched off 11:00 p.m. Before receiving the lantern, I used to go home early as it would get dark before 7:00 pm when the lights are switched on.”  

The solar lantern provides enough light for beneficiaries like Rukia to carry out activities at home and at business premises without incurring additional electricity costs. Rukia uses the sun to charge her solar lantern during the day, which she then uses to light her kiosk and home at night. She also earns additional income from charging mobile phones for other community members.

“My business has improved. Ever since I was given this solar lantern, I close my business late in the night and also walk home in the evening without fear,” says Rukia.

The support provided to Rukia and other women has reduced costs incurred when paying for electricity, improved business, and enhanced livelihood opportunities through additional sources of income and minimized chances of exposure to risks such as GBV.

IOM interventions will continue supporting women and providing opportunities that help reduce GBV cases.

For further information contact Ruth Mbugua at IOM Somalia, Tel: +254 708 985 810, Email: rmbugua@iom.int