Income brings hope to Somali families facing famine

Income brings hope to Somali families facing famine
Haredo Ali and fellow workers moving soil for water catchment rehabilitation in Somalia's southern Bakool region.

With her two children losing weight fast and family income drying up, 26-year-old Haredo Ali, from Somalia’s southern Bakool region, was stuck at the centre of the country’s worst drought in 60 years.

Her husband lost his honey-harvesting business when his bees abandoned their hive in search of nectar and water. But without money, transport or food, Ali’s family couldn’t escape to find help elsewhere.

“We had no option,” she said. “We were facing starvation but I wasn’t sure we’d make it alive to the relief camp in Mogadishu.”

Instead Ali found work repairing 18 water catchments in Bakool which, alongside neighbouring Gedo, is home to 218,000 people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.


  • There are currently seven ongoing community projects in the Gedo and Bakool Regions
  • 6,400 workers were employed, working a total of 216,120 workdays in the Gedo and Bakool regions
  • 79 km of roads (access and feeder roads) rehabilitated in Gedo and Bakool
  • 16 canals rehabilitated with a total length of 25 km in the Gedo region

The catchment project, set up by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), aims to restore essential infrastructure to help spur local livelihoods.

In addition to the catchments, the project works on boreholes, roads, market facilities and grain storage, along with rehabilitation of agricultural land.

It provides short-term jobs and much-needed cash enabling those in communities hit hard by the drought to afford food and meet basic needs.

Some 18,000 people in 3,000 households currently benefit from this project, particularly female heads of households, young people, those forced from their homes, disabled and other marginalized people.

Into the second week of building embankments, Ali used her first week’s earnings, equivalent to US$18, to provide her family a full meal and buy sugar for the bees remaining in her husband’s hives.

Overseeing Ali’s work is Aragti Relief and Development Organization, one of a number of non-governmental groups running the project with US$1 million from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund.

“In South Central Somalia, where humanitarian access is very limited, we maintain close planning, supervision, monitoring and reporting relations with our civil society partners,” said Abdallah Al-Laham, manager of UNDP Somalia’s Recovery and Sustainable Livelihoods Programme.

“We’ve learned from our wealth of experience and actions in responding to other crisis and post-crisis situations, in such devastating settings as the tsunami in Aceh, the Gaza conflict, and the Haiti earthquake.”

UNDP has already allocated US$6 million for immediate scaling up of critical programmes in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

The programmes are intended to reach up to 3.6 million people across the Horn of Africa, including some of the worst affected and displaced communities.

These include communities in southern Somalia and close to Mogadishu; conflict-prone border regions in Garissa and Turkana in Kenya; and those affected by drought in Ethiopia and Djibouti.

With recurrent drought an ongoing feature in the region, UNDP is operating multi-year efforts to ensure sustainable food security and offer alternatives to families affected by severe food shortages.

Ali continues to work hard with 850 other men and women, the first recruits to the Bakool cash-for-work programme.

With their small earnings from the project, they hope to restore their assets, avoid leaving their homes and build some resilience for their communities.

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