Haawo Isaaq Mohamed, 49, is a mother of four children in the village of Mada Warabe, southwestern Somalia, where most people rely on livestock and crops to survive.
Haawo and her husband, Nur, made a livelihood on their small family farm. However, in 2019, desert locusts swept through most farms in northern and southern regions of Somalia. Haawo’s family farm was among those who were affected – the insects devoured their crops and forced them to borrow food from their neighbors.
The borrowed food was barely sufficient, so Haawo and her husband had to send their children to live with their relatives in a nearby town, where they had a better chance of getting something to eat. At the time, one of their children was being treated for malnutrition, and still recovering after being discharged from Action Against Hunger’s nutrition program.
Then, last year, the COVID-19 made the family’s already-precarious situation even worse. The government of Somalia put disease prevention measures in place, which included a lockdown and movement restrictions. Many families who lacked other means of survival were teetering on the edge.
To help vulnerable families, Action Against Hunger, with support from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP), implemented an integrated health, nutrition, and food security project to support affected communities, help people meet basic needs, and provide families with a safety net.
In collaboration with village committees, who helped to identify the most vulnerable families, we began a four-month cash transfer project. Haawo’s family was one of the 250 households who were selected to receive $60 monthly cash transfers to their mobile phones.
For Haawo, the cash transfers came at a crucial time to cover her family’s immediate needs, including food and debt repayment. She saved the small amount she had leftover. Through her local savings group, Haawo maintained and grew her savings, drew up a business plan, and set up a small shop to sell vegetables and other foods.
“The cash transfers we received came at a crucial time to cover immediate household needs such as purchasing of food and debt payment. With the money I received from the transfers, I was able to save a portion that I used to start a shop in the village after consulting with my husband. From the shop, I make some money, which I am now using for food and other household needs. The savings also helped us continue with crop production to recover from the recent shocks, since I am even able to buy seeds,” said Haawo.
After the first two cycles of cash assistance, Action Against Hunger conducted post distribution monitoring to assess the impact of the transfers. Overall, food consumption scores (FCS) improved among the program participants who were interviewed. In cycle one, our monitoring and analysis found that 64% of households were within the acceptable FCS range, 33% had borderline FCS, and 3% were within poor FCS. In cycle two, 83% were within acceptable FCS, and just 16% were within borderline FCS and 1% were within poor FCS.
In addition to cash support, Haawo’s husband, Nur, belongs to one of the dozens of farmers groups Action Against Hunger trained on good agricultural practices and provided with seeds and tools. Nur received maize seeds, sorghum, bean seeds, groundnut seeds, tinned tomatoes, and sesame seeds. This significantly helped to boost the family’s income and secure an additional livelihood option beyond the cash assistance.
Haawo and her husband bought 10 goats and are committed to continue saving and to produce crops to recover from recent shocks. Haawo and her husband are now, once again, living with their four children and are able to support them.
“I am grateful for the timely response that Action Against Hunger and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy gave us, which helped me and my family adapt to the shocks and overcome the hard times. We no longer beg for food from our relatives as we did before,” said Nur.