Like many other regions in Somalia, Hobyo district is experimenting an ongoing critical situation. The constant threat of drought and desert locust infestations have destroyed the pasture and incredibly worsened the conditions of the livestock. As a consequence, many rural households living in the countryside have been forced to displace into the main villages in search of a better life. Furthermore, lockdowns put in place to control the COVID-19 outbreaks and political and security instabilities caused by a new wave of Al-Shabaab attacks have had serious effects on the local communities further deteriorating their livelihood opportunities.
In this difficult context, we would like to tell you a story of hope and rebirth that features has protagonist Hibaaq, a 30-year-old woman living in the small village of Galbarwaago. Her family used to live in the rural areas near the village but were displaced by the 2017 drought. Previously, her family had 52 goats and 8 camels. The drought took all their livestock which was the backbone of their family. In fact, they used to milk their goats and camels to feed their children and could sell the remaining in the local market. Unfortunately, they faced 2 very bad years. “It brings floods of tears to my eyes to remember the loss of our livestock, going one by one. It was not a mere loss of property, they were truly part of our family. My husband was the most affected by the situation, he almost went crazy. He was depressed for about a year and I could not obtain the daily sustenance for my family. Since then, my husband was demoralised and became sick, bedridden”. Now, she is the only breadwinner of her family of 9, including 6 children and her old mother.
Through the project Multisectoral humanitarian assistance in response to floods and consequences of prolonged drought in Somalia funded by AICS – the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development – Cesvi has developed multiple Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) groups to support 40 women with scale-up grants which allowed them to establish small businesses. Thanks to Cesvi’s intervention, Hibaaq has managed to carry on her business, a small shop where she sells clothes and other items, which represents the only source of income for her whole family. As part of the project she has received multiple cash grants, business equipment and trainings to help her manage her business. “I cannot imagine my shop surviving alone without the support and the help from Cesvi”. With the cash injections she has been able to repay her debt and to buy more items and equipment attracting more customers to her shop. “I feel joyful for the future” said Hibaaq. “I strongly believe that Cesvi’s intervention was the life-line of my business; we would not have survived without it. My shop is our only source of income, my lifesaver and that of my family. Cesvi became hope for us”, she continued.
Before participating to Cesvi’s project, Hibaaq and her family could only afford to eat one meal per day. Now, they finally have an income that allows them to eat regularly and they can focus on the education of their 6 children. Moreover, Hibaaq has big plans for the future of her shop. She is saving money to improve and expand her business and hopes that one day her children will take over the shop and continue what she has started for her family.