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23 March 2023 - Story


"We lost our livestock in the droughts that hit the area in 2017." Says Hawa*, 56, a mother of nine. Hawa comes from a nomadic family that lived in the Galguduud region of central Somalia. Destitute and without any livelihood, she and her children arrived in an Internally Displaced Peoples camp in Dhusamareb during the height of the 2016-2017 drought that affected much of Somalia.

Five years later, Somalia is again in the midst of another one, the worst the nation has witnessed for over 40 years. The government and its partners are racing against time to respond to the worsening humanitarian situation inflicted by the severe food crisis and acute hunger that is threatening millions of people, including 1.8 million children who are acutely malnourished.

The situation in the camp that Hawa* and other families live remains dire, with the risk of the outbreak of infectious diseases such as watery diarrhea due to overcrowding and poor sanitation. These challenges are compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic which presents social and economic pressure to both the affected and host communities.

The SAGAL Social Transfers Project, a social safety net programme funded by the European Union and led by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in coordination with a consortium of international humanitarian organizations that include Concern Worldwide as the lead agency and its implementing partners Danish Refugee Council, Norwegian Refugee Council, and Save the ChildrenInternational is supporting. 44,221 families with a monthly social cash transfer to help recover from recent shocks and rebuild their lives across the country. Hawa is one of these families. She owns ten goats which she hoped would supplement the family's livelihood with their milk. Unfortunately, none currently produce milk due to the extent of the drought. This is where the cash grants become helpful.

"The cash transfer helps me provide for my children," Hawa says.

In 2020, the programme received funding from the European Union as part of long-term support to Somalia to help alleviate extreme poverty inflicted by droughts and conflicts.

Hibo*, 58, is also receiving Sagal programme support in the camp, and she echoes the remarks of her neighbour, Hawa*. She says: "The severe food shortage and lack of water coupled with the rain failure in my rural area forced me to come to this camp barehanded and without any source of income; the cash transfer, however, helped me sustain support, my family."

“The amount we received is not enough to sustain our family, but it helps get additional support and help my family. I used the money to buy basic food and I am happy that I can buy food at least.’’

For many families, these cash transfers are crucial social support to feed their children. It helps them provide meals to children and buy food from the local market. In addition to this, the cash support also help pregnant and lactating women buy nutritious food during pregnancy and breastfeed their babies.

“Since the first 1,000 days of a child's life are the most critical in preventing long term-term damage from undernutrition, including stunting, wasting, and reduced cognitive development, the project provides long-term (24 months) cash-based social transfer to pregnant and lactating women as well as through establishing direct linkages between communities and accessible health and nutrition service. These mothers receive $US20 per month and monthly awareness messages on health, nutrition and water and hygiene,” Says Mohamud Isse,  Save the Children SAGAL Programme Manager.

The programme also supports the Federal Government of Somalia and its Member States in building a decentralized, government-led and sustainable social protection system that reaches a regional and district level.