Water reservoirs come with extra rewards

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The Employment Generation for Early Recovery Project (EGER) has changed the lives of a couple in Galoole, Sallahley District, Somaliland. Bashir Isman Ali* and his wife Fadhumo Amin Ali* can today talk of how proceeds from the project helped them to set up a small restaurant. The couple lived a life of poverty when they lost all their livestock to drought. But things changed for the better when they were recruited by the EGER project as unskilled labourers in the construction of a concrete surface water reservoir. They saved part of their daily earnings, which they later used to start a tea shop. The business thrived and within a short time they expanded, turning it into a small restaurant. They sell food to community workers at the project site, and the results have been rewarding.

Today Bashir and Fadhumo can comfortably afford to take care of their family. They have also set up a livestock farming project. They use part of the earnings from the food business to buy hay and water for the livestock.

An additional bonus of the project is that they no longer have to walk many miles to fetch water. They now plan to send their children to school.

A beneficiary from Sayla Bari village expresses her excitement at how the EGER project has changed lives at the household level.

“Most of the water for drinking was contaminated. The construction of a central communal berkad that is hygienic has greatly changed our lifestyle. Our young children are no longer affected by diarrhoea or waterborne diseases,” she says.

Nassir Abdi Omar*, another beneficiary, explains that there are even more benefits ─ farmers are optimistic about improving their crop production by using skills gained through the project.

“We gained new knowledge and skills on how to construct soil bunds that reduce rainwater runoff and increase rainwater infiltration deep into the soil, thus improving farm productivity. We are pleased with this new, long-lasting innovation and will continue to make more soil bunds of this type in future.”

EGER also tackles important gender issues. Traditional Somali society believes that women should not do any work beyond their domestic chores. However, the implementation of the project has helped to challenge this belief by giving opportunities to many unemployed women in Somaliland.

Forty-year-old Amina*, a widow and mother of three, is a beneficiary of the EGER project in Korjiga. She appreciates the change in attitude within the community that the project has brought.

“Women and men being given equal opportunity in employment, especially with equal pay, was unheard of within Somali society. This is also the first time women have been contracted to do manual work in our village. It’s a complete behaviour change for our society,” she says.

For some beneficiaries, being involved at all stages of the project is very rewarding, not only for women but for the entire community.

“This is a unique project. It responds to needs identified by us at an earlier date. Agencies used to come to us with projects identified by them and carried out by them. Now we are doing everything ourselves,” explains Abdirahim Musa*, Chairman of Makhayada Inanta Village Development Committee.  

The UNDP’s Employment Generation for Early Recovery Project seeks to create income and jobs for vulnerable groups such as women, youth, and IDPs and their host communities in South Central Somalia and Somaliland. This project is implemented under the Watershed Management and Flood Protection programme, which helps communities protect themselves against the threat and effect of floods and harvest water for agriculture and livestock.

*name has been changed

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