Improving security & trade through employment in Somalia
by Ahmed Khalif
For rural communities in Somalia, roads are vital to connecting people, goods, and services. This is very important for Bursalah, a rural village in the Mudug region of Somalia where one of the major problems hindering economic growth is the poor road infrastructure. “This road is the lifeline for our community,” remarked 57 year-old Said Abdi Nur.
Bursalah is among the 21 villages where Adeso implemented Cash-for-Work (CfW) micro-projects to rehabilitate community assets through the Livelihoods Emergency Assistance Project (LEAPS) funded by USAID/OFDA. The project, which ended in October of this year, aimed to help communities recover from the 2011-2012 drought and famine by rehabilitating community assets and providing farming supplies and small business grants.
Said is the secretary of the community development committee in Bursalah and is among the committee members responsible for the execution of CfW activities in the village. “We met with many different organizations,” said Said, “but Adeso truly stood out from the rest as the only one to actually help.”
At the start of the project, Adeso met with local leaders, like Said, and the local authorities to identify micro-projects that would help the communities rebuild essential public works such as roads and water systems. Adeso hired unskilled workers to provide labor, purchased raw materials from local suppliers, and provided technical assistance and oversight for selected projects. The local communities were involved in the selection of the 93 individuals who provided the unskilled labor. Each was paid USD $105 during the first month of CfW.
In Bursalah, community members chose to rehabilitate the major road linking the village to main market centers. The road used to be impassable during the wet season and motorists faced difficulties using it during the dry season due to the rough terrain.
Through Adeso’s CfW interventions, 15 kilometers of the road were rehabilitated over a period of 23 work days. In addition to benefits to trade, the road has also improved access to schools and hospitals, and improved security (by reducing isolation). The project has also strongly encouraged the participation of women and communities have reported empowerment through their earning of cash.
In Bursalah village alone, Adeso has disbursed over US $10,000 for CfW projects through a contracted money transfer company, locally known as a hawala. Community members are already reaping the benefits said Said, particularly at the household level. The CfW project in Bursalah has also provided employment for residents. “People feel the pride of working to earn a living, and most of the youth here do not have formal employment and at times they will be tempted to resort to criminal activities but Thank God we have created temporary employment,” remarked Said.
Ultimately the CfW project approach creates alternative employment options and reduces the use of negative coping mechanisms within a community.