Savvy women use cash aid to propel families out of Baidoa IDP camps

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Thanks to her hard work and careful management of cash aid they received in a displacement camp in Baidoa, southern Somalia, Hawo Mohamed Hussein has saved up to move her family to a new home in the city.

They joined Barodi IDP camp in November 2019 and began receiving $180 a month in cash aid in September 2020. She saved $100 in the first three months and initially set up a small table selling various items.

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Now she sells clothes, dry food and fresh vegetables from her shop inside the camp. Eight of her nine children have been enrolled in school and she pays $40 a month in fees. She also opened a butchery that her husband runs.

“Before I started my business we were struggling, we even considered going back to our villages. But we persevered, I even collected firewood so we could get one meal a day. We thank God now that we’ve been working,” she said.

Hawo and her family migrated from Dhanbalka, 37 kilometres east of Baidoa, when most of their 27 goats and 15 cows died during the drought leaving them destitute. They sold off the last 11 weak animals for $275 and used the money to travel to Baidoa.

They stopped receiving the cash aid from World Vision in March. Hawo and her husband have already bought a small plot of land for $4,300 outside the camp and have begun building their own house.

“Thanks to God, we cook three times a week. We are no longer in our previous life, we plan to change our lives and move away from the IDP camps. We don’t plan to go back to the village,” she said.

“One of my sons completed his secondary school education and we want to send him to university. We work day and night, sometimes until midnight. I tell myself that I need to serve the customer.”

Another camp resident, Fadumo Hassan Ibrahim, a single mother of seven, also made good use of her cash aid. She used $100 in savings to start a butchery that now brings in 40,000 shillings ($1.5) a day.

“Our children were struggling with hunger,” she said. “Now we’re eating three meals every day. My children didn’t have any education but now they’re learning maths. Four of the children are in school,” she said.

Fadumo was displaced from Buulo-lir, 90 kilometres south of Baidoa, where drought ruined her one-hectare farm. When she arrived in the IDP camp she first tried collecting and selling firewood for a pittance.

“I saw some of my women neighbours working and thought to myself that I should also start working, and that is how I got into business. I started with vegetables, then I got into meat. Now I plan to widen my business and get out of the camps,” Fadumo said.

For those families who were unable to invest to set up their own businesses, life is much harder in the camps and future prospects are less bright.

Haredo Mohamed, a mother of eight living in Bul-doy camp in Baidoa, was displaced from Aliyow Mumin village, about 40 kilometres from Baidoa.

She noted that since she stopped receiving cash aid, she has been faced with hardships. Her children were in Koranic school but are now at home as she failed to pay the fees.

“My husband doesn’t get regular income, he’s a construction worker and gets work sometimes but most of the time has no job. Some days we don’t get food and finding food can be hard. Sometimes I go to the market and work on building sites or wash clothes so we can get food,” she said.

Haredo, who has been living in Bul-doy camp for about a year, hoped to find a better life in the camp but has been faced with new difficulties. The family left behind their farmland that dried up during the drought. She said she had to use some of the cash aid she got to support her parents who stayed back in the village.

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