By Minaz Kerawala, Communications and Public Relations Advisor
He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.Philippians 3:21
Somalia has been ravaged by years of civil conflict and unfavourable weather. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that these adversities have driven 2.9 million Somalis from their homes, 520,000 of whom were displaced in the first 10 months of 2021 alone. Moreover, 1.2 million Somali children are malnourished, and 3.5 million people are facing acute food insecurity.
But for a near-miraculous turnaround, Halima Mohamed Arab and her family would been among those making up these grim statistics.
Many mouths to feed
Like many in rural Somalia, 48-year-old Halima earned a living from her livestock. When recurrent drought wiped out her herd, she was forced leave her home in Yurkud village in the Gedo Region. She and her family settled, with thousands of others, in the Jazira camp for internally displaced persons in the town of Luuq.
With few assets and fewer prospects, Halima had to support an extended family of 20, including her husband, their nine children, her ailing and visually impaired mother, and eight other relatives. “My family had no income, and we were struggling to meet basic needs,” Halima recalled. “We could not afford three meals a day, and most of my children were malnourished.” She could not send the children to school, either.
From poverty to productivity
Halima’s fortunes turned in 2020, when she began participating in a project run by the Centre for Research and Integrated Development (CeRID) in partnership with Trócaire and with the support of Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada.
CeRID trained Halima in agroecological food production techniques and gave her access to communal farmland and farming inputs. She also received two goats and joined a women’s savings group.
In the first year, Halima planted tomatoes, squash, green pepper, cowpeas, sorghum and maize. She sold much of her two harvests and even some of their residue as fodder, earning a life changing US$310. She reported using the money “to pay school fees, buy clothes and food, and start a small kiosk.”
From strength to strength
In the second year, a single harvest netted Halima US$570, allowing her to buy six additional goats. Along with the old stock and new kids born over the year, this has taken her herd strength to 15 goats. Halima’s children now enjoy milk in their diet. She also intends to fatten four of the goats for a more lucrative bulk sale.
Halima has also restocked her kiosk with popular merchandise like candies, detergents and food items.
Meanwhile, Halima’s daughter, Qali, has been taking agribusiness and entrepreneurship classes at CeRID’s Agricultural Training Centre for youths. She helps her mother run a kitchen garden that grows tomatoes, peppers and lettuce that the family regularly uses to supplement its breakfasts. There is even enough to often share with neighbours.
Young Qali is also deploying her new skills on Halima’s communal farm plot, using manure and organic pesticides to improve yields.
Halima’s growing income has substantially improved her family’s lot. One indicator of just how much better things are is that Halima could spend US$210 on her mother’s eye treatment (in a country whose per capita gross domestic product is US$310). ‘‘Thanks to Allah, my mother is no longer in need of someone guiding her all the time,” Halima said. “Her vision is as good as anyone’s after the surgery.”
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