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

KITCHEN GARDENS DIVERSIFY DIETS FOR PASTORALISTS IN ABUDWAK

Abudwak, Galmudug state being arid and water scarce, there is a common perception that it is not suitable for farming.  Farming is the least thing discussed in many households in this remote part of the country. That notion is slowly fading away for many households after NAPAD introduced kitchen garden farming for pastoralist communities in Abudwak.

It’s 6.00 am; mama Fatuma is watering her small kitchen garden in her plot, a routine she has religiously observed for the last three months since she was introduced to kitchen gardening by NAPAD. Mama Fatuma’s 10M by 5M kitchen garden looks promising. Within a month of planting her seeds and seedlings, the plants have begun to bear fruits, first Capsicum, Tomatoes, kales, and watermelon. The excited mother of 8 can’t believe her progress and can’t help but admire her work.  Her farm will produce enough vegetables for her family use and sell them in the local market.

Now Abudwak comes to us

MAMA FATUMA
Mama Fatuma in a discussion with NAPAD agronomist

“We no longer travel to Abudwak town to get vegetables. I have plenty in my compound. We get it anytime we want. Now Abudwak comes to us’’, Reports the new farmer.  In addition to growing food for her family, Fatuma can sell some of the vegetables she grows. For example, she sells each capsicum at 10 cents Dollar. “This morning I sold two Kgs of tomatoes and 1kg of capsicum to a grocery in Abduwak town’’ says delighted Fatuma.

NAPAD, in partnership with Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF), is implementing a project that promotes diversification into kitchen gardens by the pastoralist community for a sustainable supply of nutritious fresh vegetables and fruits. Water for this farming is supplied by the village boreholes in Dalsan and Hulkujur villages in Abudwak district.

NAPAD through SHF funding has solarized water pumping in these boreholes, increasing their water output, reducing the cost of pumping the water, and employing sustainable renewable energy to pump the water.  The increased water output ensures that the community has enough water for domestic use, livestock use, and now for their kitchen gardening. “Before the kitchen garden farming, we used to have this belief that farming does well only where rivers flow. We have realized you can farm anywhere when water is available” says Mama Fatuma

Mama Fatuma assesses her capsicums

NAPAD, with the support of the community elders, identified 100 women from Dalsan and Hulkujur villages in Abudwak who were trained in kitchen farming.  The women were provided with farm inputs which include vegetable seeds and farm tools. Fatuma is among 100 beneficiaries of this project.  The approach seeks to diversify sources and quality of food and nutrients for vulnerable persons such as women and children. This is the first time Mama Fatuma and the other women were introduced into farming as this pastoralist community relies more on livestock production for food.

Mama Fatuma’s spinach grown in a gunny sack

Now that these women farmers have registered success in kitchen garden farming, many other women are willing to learn, so that they too can venture and replicate the success story in kitchen garden farming.   Mama Fatuma dreams to have a big farm that will supply the whole of Abudwak town. She appreciates NAPAD and their staff for introducing them to vegetable farming. “We say thank you to NAPAD and the donors for giving us this knowledge we didn’t have. May Allah bless you”.  

YOUTH AND WOMEN IN MANDERA BENEFIT FROM TRAININGS

In 2014, Fatuma Sheikh, a 30-year-old mother of four and a passionate entrepreneur, witnessed the high demand for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) – relatively low-cost products and sold quickly. After seeing this unmet need, Fatuma decided to start her own small business, a small shop.

Fatuma started her business with a $150 investment from her savings but quickly ran into substantial challenges. Like many other micro-retailers lacking formal business training, Fatuma was operating her business based on intuition rather than well-established business management practices. This led to poor financial management consequently leading to losses.

Fatuma’s experience is common across Mandera County, Kenya, where women and youth, in particular, have limited access to formal employment opportunities, and entrepreneurship presents a path toward economic independence. However, like Fatuma, many of these entrepreneurs lack basic business skills and knowledge, which prevents them from maximizing their business’s economic potential. Existing enterprises of women and youth operate with minimal knowledge of business management.

Entrepreneurship training held in Lafey Mandera county for 50 women and youth.

To strengthen households’ livelihoods and resilience against external shocks through diversification of income, NAPAD, together with Terre des homes and Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (Germany) – BMZ, trained 50 women and youth on entrepreneurship skills. The ten-day training took place in Lafey sub-county Mandera County and covered the modules on business management, value addition and marketing  as well financial management  and  knowledge on how to improve  their saving  culture to improve their  business capital.

Fatuma Sheikh, a 30-year-old budding entrepreneur attending the entrepreneurship training.

Before the training, I was just in the business because I wanted to be called a businesswoman. I didn’t know how to run the business professionally. I was doing things I wanted without much consideration. I have now been taught how to balance books, marketing, saving, borrowing, and planning.” Said Fatuma . “With this new knowledge and skills, I look forward to realizing my dream of owning a supermarket.

The women and youth divided into five groups will then be supported through in-kind support to establish profitable, sustainable business enterprises. The five groups were able to select their preferred enterprises and then be supported with all the requirements needed to ensure they would thrive.

Suleiman Hirsi a 26 year old youth who wants to start the entrepreneurship journey attending the training.

26-year-old Suleiman Hirsi attended the training. “I have enjoyed and learned a lot in these ten days. I even identified business opportunities in the area that I can pursue. Our group chose to pursue a car wash business as there is none in the locality at current. NAPAD has promised to support our business idea, and we are very excited to start this entrepreneurship journey.

A class session during the ten-day training.

This training is under the Building Resilience at Community Level Project, contributing to the sustainable strengthening of the livelihood and resilience to droughts in Gedo (Somalia) and Mandera County (Kenya).

SAFETY PACKAGING SAVES LIVES: BEHAVIOUR CHANGE CAMPAIGN FOR FOOD VENDORS IN KISMAYU

Every day hundreds of traders and consumers flock into markets in Kismayu to purchase various commodities, especially food items. Bread and meat are a staple and typical food in Kismayu. Currently, meat and bread in Kismayu and broader Somalia is sold in the market while being openly displayed and unwrapped. The consumers/customers will pick their preferred product and carry it with whichever means they deem fit: including out in the open. The concept of packaging for these two products is practically nonexistent.

Somalia has a high AWD/cholera prevalence recording of 78,560 cases and 1,160 deaths from January to August 2020. Hygienic handling of food plays a vital role in preventing outbreaks of cholera and other hygiene-related diseases.

Awliyo Sankus is a 48-year-old IDP beneficiary of the NAPAD-GIZ KWEEP phase 2.

Awliyo Sankus is a 48-year-old beneficiary of the NAPAD-GIZ KWEEP phase 2, and an IDP living in Fanole IDP camp. She is a camel meat vendor at the Shaqalaha Mini market in Kismayo, where she fends for her entire eight family members.

Kismayu food vendors attending a campaign in food hygiene and safety packaging.

Hygienically packaging food and ensuring food was handled safely, were relatively new skills for Awliyo. In June 2020, she participated in a behavior change campaign funded by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), working in collaboration with Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD). The campaign sought to address two issues in Kismayu; proper food hygiene and safe packaging. 100 vendors of meat, fish, bread-processing enterprises, and retailed vegetable vendors from the five main Kismayo Villages, attended the two-day campaign.

A trainer facilitating a session on food hygiene and safety packaging

The campaign was Awliyo’s first food hygiene and safety packaging awareness.

It has taught us a lot because we learned hygiene practices on how to store our products in the shops and to ensure we package them accordingly, and with that, we avoid many diseases,” she continues. “Good packaging and maintaining hygiene will also attract more customers to our shops.”

The women also learned simple tips that can have a significant impact on food safety. “We learned that one could spread bacteria to food through touching your nose, mouth, hair, handling garbage and even handling animals and then handling the food,” Awliyo Sankuus said.

Safe packaging protects one’s product/food from physical damage, dust, as well as microbiological and chemical contamination. Proper food packaging should facilitate the transport of the product, prevent disease or loss, and protect it against damage or degradation.

She was thrilled to participate in a food hygiene and safety packaging campaign through behavior change. Awliyo believes that she will now be able to take care of herself and her customers after learning what food hygiene means to human well-being.

I am now an advocate of safety packaging, saves lives,” she excitedly says.

SECURING LIVELIHOODS OF IDP WOMEN: RAHMO’S STORY

Rahmo Mohamed Qalinle a beneficiary of the KWEEP project in her fully stocked shop.

Dalxis, Kismayo town in Somalia, has been the home of 32-year-old Rahmo Mohamed Qalinle for the past seven years. “After being voluntarily repatriated from Kenya’s Daadab refugee camp in 2013, I came back to Dalxis, Somalia with no money and no family“, recalls Rahmo, “I got married to be able to support myself, but my husband who was a struggling farmer had challenges in growing enough food for our family that would last beyond two months each year.”

Rahmo, now a mother of four children, has struggled to fend for her family trying her luck in various entrepreneurial ventures that gave little to no profits. Without the money or support to back her entrepreneurial spirit, Rahmo was losing interest in earning an income. In 2017, Rahmo started selling household items such as foodstuff and utensils in one of the rooms in her house.

The $50 to $100 monthly profits I made was not enough to sustain all my family’s needs, and on many occasions, I was forced to get aid from family through fundraising money to support my children’s education. It was very frustrating seeing my children suffer, and I had no means to assist them,” says a distressed Rahmo.

She was among the 80 women selected to be part of the GIZ funded Kismayu Women Economic Empowerment Project 1 (KWEEP 1). Through the project, the women were taken through rigorous training on entrepreneurship, business skills, financial management practices, and Voluntary Savings and Loans (VSL).

 “When I was selected to be part of NAPAD’s KWEEP project, I knew it was the chance I had been waiting for to transform my family’s lives, “says the mother of four, “after attending the KWEEP training, I was equipped with business and finance skills to run my business well, I am now in a better position to operate and manage my business. Learning how to create and maintain financial books has enabled me to keep track of my cash flow, and I can now earn up to $300 in monthly profits.”

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) funded project focused on IDPs and returnees in Kismayu with little to no access to any formal training to grow or sustain their enterprises. The project purposed to provide economic opportunities to these women with a view of improving their living standards and that of their households. The women also received business startup kits that would give them a head start to growing successful ventures through the project.

I received a fridge and stock for my shop from NAPAD. I have diversified my business and now also sell all types of juices, ice creams, and groceries while using the fridge for preservation. I am no longer poor. I can now support my family. My children go to school, and we have enough to eat. I have NAPAD to thank for my good fortune,” says an overjoyed Rahmo.

In the future, she hopes to expand her business and help to empower more women.

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.