Meeting Adolescent Girls at their point of Need Amid COVID19

The COVID 19 pandemic as with any crisis in a fragile state such as Somalia, has affected the availability of hygiene essentials of the often overlooked adolescent girls. Most of these girls live among the IDP community of Mogadishu and rely on free sanitary pads distributed at their schools or IDP camps by NGOs. However, limitations or reprioritization of donor funding means that the girls no longer have consistent access to these essential items.

“I used to get sanitary towels from my school in Kaxda. Now that supply is not available, I have to use pieces of cloth, which is very uncomfortable…I feel sad as I can’t do things normally, like household chores or sit down as I am afraid of soiling my clothes” reports 16-year-old Nuurto

Reusable sanitary pads distribution

NAPAD in partnership with DKH targeted 200 adolescent girls in Kaxda and Garasbaley camps, with a pack of reusable sanitary pads.

With an increased challenge of accessing food items in the market, or even get causal labour, my parents cannot afford stocking up on food as well as supplies like sanitary towels. The majority of families in my area will not consider sanitary towels as they are a luxury. That’s why we always depend on partners like NAPAD to supply to us such critically needed support,” Nuurto explains.

For Hawo 17, her concern is on adolescent girls who have irregular periods.

“…A number of us go through menstruation twice a month. Imagine how difficult the situation is for us. Before the intervention from NAPAD, I had no sanitary towels, it happens to all of us in the IDP camps. We have no choice but to use pieces of cloth… I was also surprised during the distribution that even mothers of the adolescent girls were desperate for them.”

Distribution centre

There is a need for more sanitary towels, not just in Garasbaley IDPs camp but in other IDP settlements and even in rural areas“. Yurub Abdi, NAPAD’s protection officer

COVID 19: Breaking Barriers to Behavior Change among IDPs

House to house hygeine promotion

Somalia is grappling with the implications of 2.6 million persons being internally displaced, and a huge percentage are located in Mogadishu and its environs. The outbreak of COVID-19 compounds the already fragile situation characterized by overpopulated IDP camps and little access to adequate water for good hygiene practices leaving the population highly vulnerable to disease outbreaks. Limited access to basic services such as water, sanitation, and health education challenges the adherence to COVID-19 prevention measures such as frequent handwashing.

NAPAD in partnership with Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe Somalia is supporting the internally displaced households within the IDP camps of Kaxda and Grasbaley IDPs in Mogadishu, who are at heightened risk of coronavirus transmission to improve their hygiene practices through improved access to water and aggressive hygiene promotion outreaches

NAPAD has installed handwashing stations in various health centers, such as the   Bulsha Bilan health center, in Kaxda IDP Camp, and at the Community Centre in Garasbaley IDPs center.  NAPAD has also ensured that there is regular water and soap supply at the handwashing stations.  

Handwashing facilities established at  Bulsha Bilan health center

This handwashing facility is extremely useful to us. Everyone coming into the health facility washes their hands using this machine with ease unlike before when we were using a 3-liter water container for handwashing…. this center receives more than 25 patients each day. The handwashing installation has helped raise hygiene standards in the health facility”.  Reports Hamdi Ali, a community health worker in charge of the Bulsha Bilan health center facility.

COVID 19 Hygiene promotion in a Health Center

Appropriate COVID 19 IPC and hygiene information promotion is another approach by NAPAD through intensified household and community risk communication and social mobilization activities in the camps. Ten hygiene educators drawn from Kaxda and Grasbaley were trained and facilitated by NAPAD to engage households on Covid-19 infection prevention and control (IPC) measures in the local language. The team, equipped with local language Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials has reached 2032 households in 18 IDP cluster segments with appropriate Covid-19 IPC mitigation measures messages

Hygiene promotion in camps

The hygiene promoters also curbed local myths and misconceptions that promoted misinformation of the infectious COVID 19 among the camp populations by providing relevant information approved by WHO and Ministry of Health Covid-19 prevention guidelines.

Hygiene promoters during camp outreaches

IMPROVING IDP HOUSEHOLDS THROUGH UNCONDITIONAL CASH TRANSFERS

Qoran Abdi Mohamud an IDP in Dayaan IDP camp Abudwak district

Meet Qoran Abdi Mohamud, a mother of eight children who has lived in the Dayaan IDP camp Abudwak district for seven years. Qoran was primarily a pastoralist with herds of goats and sheep. The subsequent droughts and inter-clan conflicts in the region greatly affected and displaced her, and she lost the herd she had.

Life was desolate during periods of persistent drought when access to food was a big hurdle as food prices would shoot up. The only support my family had previously received but on an irregular basis, was food aid from humanitarian organizations,” She says.

Qoran worked causal jobs but struggled to make ends meet.  As the sole provider for her eight children, she found it challenging to balance the need to work and care for them.

As part of the livelihood interventions, Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD), with funding from Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF), is supporting 400HHS IDPs and vulnerable host communities in Abudwak district with unconditional cash transfers (UCTs). Each household is receiving 124 dollars per month for three months. The beneficiaries were fairly selected from their respective camps and settlements by their community leaders following the standard selection criteria set by NAPAD.

When I received the money there was no food in our house.

Qoran abdi

Qoran’s life took a positive turn when she was one of the vulnerable households selected to benefit from the cash transfer program.

Qoran prepares a meal with the foodstuff she brought after receiving the UCT

I received 124 dollars in July through my Mobile, and I was thrilled to get such support,” Said Qoran. “The money I received I used to clear some debt, purchase foodstuff, water, firewood, and some clothes for the family. When I received the cash, there was no food in our house,” she continues.

Qoran also informed us that she is awaiting two more cash transfers in the following months; this will improve her family’s well-being and relieve the burden and worry about how she would carter for her family for those two months.

Qoran is grateful that NAPAD, intervened with this initiative to assist the vulnerable families in Abudwak and encourages NAPAD and SHF to continue supporting all displaced families. She says:

The IDP camps here are where the poorest families live and providing such support at a time like this will enable the affected families to meet daily household needs.”

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IN THE COVID-19 CONTEXT

In recent years, climate-related shocks, mainly drought and flooding, have increased in frequency and intensity, intensifying humanitarian needs and undermining resilience at the household and community levels.

Jamac Xaashi Abdille, a 45-year-old father of seven children who lives in Barwaaqo Village in Abduwaak district Somalia slowly proceeds to the Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD) beneficiary registration centre. Like many families who are struggling to recover from recurrent calamities of drought over the past couple of years, life has not been easy for him and his family. His vulnerability has been heightened by his physical impairment which limits his ability to travel far and wide to access other forms of livelihoods.

Jamac Xaashi Abdille at the NAPAD UCT registration centre

A near-constant cycle of drought and conflict has forced my family to flee a number of times, surviving on the generosity of locals and support of relatives who offered food and other assistance. We barely have enough to live on. As a Person Living with Disabilities (PWD) this makes it even harder for me to carter for my family,” he continues.

To improve the food security of vulnerable communities in Abudwak, NAPAD with funding from Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF) is implementing an eight-month project that will increase immediate access to food, protection of livestock assets, and diversification of livelihoods by this majorly pastoralist community.

In Barwaaqo village Abduwak district, NAPAD is conducting registration of beneficiaries for unconditional cash transfers (UCT). As opposed to previous years, the beneficiaries are moving in queues to maintain physical distancing as they eagerly wait to be served. Previously these exercises would typically be characterized by people in small crowds or seated next to each other catching up waiting to be served.

Things can not remain business as usual.

Fatuma Abdullahi
Beneficiaries waiting to be served at the registration center

“Things cannot remain business as usual, the pandemic has remodeled our operations as a humanitarian organization working in a fragile context. We have put in place measures to ensure social distancing especially in our community engagements,” Says Fatuma Abdullahi, a project Manager in NAPAD.

As Jamac waits to be served, he is optimistic that the cash transfer will provide food for his family.

Thanks to Allah, I was included in the programme as one of the people who will receive 124 USD per month for three months through Mobile money transfer. This will improve our lives. I will be able to buy food for my children.” says Jamac.

The project will see 200 IDPs in Abudwak, and 200 vulnerable host communities receive 124 USD in unconditional cash transfer for three months. The UCT will help cushion the already heavy burden of these IDP communities that has been aggravated by the COVID 19 pandemic. NAPAD partnered with the local government to ensure the beneficiary selection process was inclusive to persons with disabilities like Jamac.

BRINGING HOPE IN THE MIDST OF A PANDEMIC

Since March 2020, when Somalia recorded its first COVID-19 case, NAPAD has supported the COVID-19 response in its areas of operation through awareness creation and provision of hygiene kits. Our staff are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, staying optimistic, and confident in the face of uncertainty. For the field staff, working from home is a privilege they could not undertake as the communities they serve still need immediate humanitarian interventions.

Abdiweli Hassan, one of NAPAD’s project managers’, shares his experience working in the field amid a pandemic.

Abdiweli Hassan, NAPAD’s Women Economic Empowerment Project Manager, demonstrating proper handwashing techniques.

I am Abdiweli Hassan, Women Economic Empowerment Project Manager in Kismayo, Somalia. I describe myself as a change agent dedicated to helping the less fortunate develop the capacity to transform their lives and their communities.

My work is driven by the fact that I can protect human dignity by providing basic needs to the most vulnerable people. I get a lot of satisfaction when I see people smile as they receive the basic things they used to have in their homes, but are deprived of in their current situation.

News of the COVID19 pandemic in Kismayu came as a big shock with a blend of emotions of mostly anxiety, confusion, and panic. I was mainly scared for the community I was working with as this was a foreign concept, and we were ill-prepared. For many of us, a pandemic was something we had never experienced in all our lives. There was barely any knowledge about the virus in the area. News of the disease immediately affected every sector of the community, from public movement, gatherings, travel, occupations, and even trust between people.

As a project, we immediately halted all types of engagements for the first week after the pandemic announcement in Kismayo. It was even a challenge to access any personal protective equipment (PPE). We then gradually planned how we would conduct our operations within the pandemic, ensuring we protect ourselves and our beneficiaries. We procured facemasks, sanitizers, soaps, and developed social distancing mechanisms for our training and offices. We then conducted several community awareness campaigns through local languages and sensitized the community on prevention measures. We also procured handwashing stations that would be used for our trainings and community engagements.

Once we felt confident that we had put up the required safety measures, we resumed our trainings (though now mini style meetings of 15 participants) while maintaining the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID 19 guidelines. The community received all the changes positively and willingly adopted the regular hand washing and wearing of facemasks as a new culture. This willingness to adapt motivates me to do more for the community.

One of the most inspiring moments during this pandemic was when one of the groups we had trained on shampoo and soap, making donated liquid handwashing soap to our beneficiaries during our training. It was a very motivating day for me that verified the resilience of these communities that despite the innumerable challenges they face, they still had a sense of togetherness.

By protecting ourselves, we are being our brothers’ keepers and protecting them, too; and this is the only way we will fight this disease.

Abdiweli Hassan

My advice to the community and other frontline workers is that we should first protect ourselves, ensuring we wash our hands regularly, wear facemasks, and maintain social distancing. By protecting ourselves, we are being our brothers’ keepers and protecting them, too; and this is the only way we will fight this disease.

LIVESTOCK FOR LIVELIHOODS: Increasing Household Income for Pastoralists in Gedo Somalia

Sahara Adan having her goat treated in Deka village Gedo

Deka Village, Elwak district in Gedo Somalia has been the home of 38-year-old Sahara Adan Dhicis for the past 8 years. A widow and the sole breadwinner for her 8 children, Sahara relies on her small herd as the only source of income for her household. For residents of Deka village, wealth has always been measured by the size of one’s herd, their livestock is a crucial source of food (milk) and a mobile bank that can be converted into cash for health expenses, school fees, etc.

A herd of goats in Deka village

For years drought and animal ailments have been the worst mishaps that could manifest to this community. “It was so distressing, watching as our animals die and there was nothing we could do about the diseases. We could barely get any milk for the children,“ Sahara reflects. Diseases not only claimed the lives of animals but also undermined their productivity, resulting in less milk and meat and also lowering their market prices.

“When our livestock got sick we would give them medicine by guessing the diseases they were suffering from and most times it would worsen the condition because we would give them wrong treatment or misuse the drug quantity, “Says Sahara

Lack of animal health services in the region has crippled the efforts of increasing productivity of pastoralists livestock and more so for the vulnerable households such as IDPs. To intervene in this dire situation,  NAPAD together with the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) and Medico International has trained and equipped 15 Community Health Workers with skills to diagnose and treat livestock diseases. The project seeks to reduce livestock morbidity, thereby improving productivity for household consumption and household income. This intervention has seen 450 households being provided with veterinary care of 28,000 animals.

Animal treatment activity with trained Community Health Workers

My children now drink more milk.

Sahara adan

“My animals were treated during the free treatment drive in our village. The animals were given treatment for worms, pneumonia, and parasites. Our animals are now healthy and thriving despite it being the rainy season when diseases are quite rampant. My children now drink more milk,” says a beaming Sahara. “I thank NAPAD for the support they have given our community”.