Somalia. Ali's journey from despair to prosperity
29-10-2021 | di COOPI

Somalia. Ali's journey from despair to prosperity

Ali is a sorghum farmer in Shibelow, a village in Baidoa district. Due to the impact of the 2020 drought on agro-pastoral households, he and his family fled in search of safety and assistance to Baidoa town, the capital of the Bay region. Since moving to Donderow IDP camp in Baidoa town, opportunities for income generation have been limited, given his caregiver role for his wife, who is physically impaired. “Seeing failed crops across farms’ fields due to drought is every farmer’s worst nightmare” Ali says  by remaining positive and never lost hope, because for him “Protecting my family has always been a priority”.

In the framework of this environmental crisis, since March, the flexibility and unconditional cash of the project “Coordinated Implementation of Multipurpose Cash Assistance to Support Somali Households Affected by Crisis” funded by Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) enables families, like Ali’s, to increase food consumption, reduce poverty while encouraging families to keep children in school and providing them with the needed health care.

Thanks to Cash Transfer program, he has been receiving unconditional cash assistance of USD 60 for the past 4 months and now he, his wife and their six children “no longer have to resort to negative coping mechanisms, such as paying on credit, selling our few remaining assets or reducing the number of meals we have on a daily basis.". This support is vital for families like Ali’s in order to have access to livelihoods resources.

Through community-based targeting, Ali was among the 76 vulnerable families in Donderow IDP camp in Baidoa selected to benefit from six rounds of unconditional cash assistance at USD 60 a month, disbursed via mobile money.

“Receiving the monthly USD 60 cash has brought huge relief. Determined to free myself from poverty, I divided the cash into two halves. I used one to pay accumulated debts, while I spent the other half to purchase food and water and household items such as utensils and medication for my wife. Given the eased pressure on finances after the third round of cash received, I have prioritized saving at least a fifth of the cash received. My family’s situation has improved over the past few months.” he states.

In addition, Ali’s wife praises the women within the camp are included in the cash transfer actions: “This program is beneficial because it mostly targets women, who are an important pillar in any household.[…] Take the camp we live in for instance, we have witnessed the empowerment of women and the improvement in their quality of life because families are free to use the cash on what they deem most essential. The cash has been a blessing in our community and we thank COOPI and the European Union for their support” she concludes.

The impact of recurrent shocks in Somalia has left nearly 3.5 million people food insecure, having lost all or part of their livelihoods, as the country continues to experience extreme levels of food insecurity amid recurrent droughts, insecurity, political instability, rising global commodity prices and the COVID-19 pandemic effects.

The Cash Transfer program is implemented by COOPI and other six international non-governmental organizations (ACTED, Concern Worldwide, DRC, NRC, Save the Children and IMPACT Initiative) with Concern Worldwide, through the Somali cash consortium (SCC), as the lead agency. It aims to address the basic needs of the most vulnerable shock-affected households and result in improved food security outcomes. Liban Abdulrahman Mohamed, the Emergency Program Manager managing the project confirms: “Cash transfer programming provides good value for money, given its lower implementation costs and its proven ability to positively impact on household’s food security indicators. Through this network of organizations, we have the ability to operate anywhere accessible in Somalia and scale up operations as needs arise.”.

Following the successful completion of four rounds of cash transfers, COOPI will disburse the fifth and sixth tranche of cash to 892 and 725 displaced families in Bay and Banadir regions of Somalia respectively in November and December, 2021.