By BERTHA KANG’ONG’OI Special Correspondent
Somalilandsun – In Ainabo, about 400km from the Somaliland capital Hargeisa, half of the population is comprised of internal refugees displaced by conflict and drought.
Hassan Sa’ed, the mayor of Oog, a small town within Ainabo, says the resources in the area have been strained by the influx of the IDPs.
“Our main needs are water and pasture,” he said. “But we, the host community, and the IDPs are also in dire need of health and educational facilities, and a means of earning a livelihood.
“We know the government has an obligation to provide for its people,” the mayor added, “but it is weak. Without international recognition, it is hard to predict how long it will take the government to provide basic needs to the citizens.”
There are about 84,000 IDPs in Somaliland. Foreign aid agencies are not only offering assistance to them but also making a little contribution to the economy.
Mark Bradbury, in his book Becoming Somaliland, writes: “In terms of direct contributions to the economy of Somaliland, foreign aid comes fourth after livestock trade, remittances and trade.”
Bradbury says Somaliland has been relying on foreign aid to support social services such as health and education, rehabilitation of water supplies and other infrastructure.
In Ainabo, aid agencies have designed food-for-work and cash-for-work programmes to support both the IDPs and the host community. Some 190 households are benefiting from the project. Eighty-six of these families are IDPs.
Halimo Ibrahim Ahmed, a 50-year-old IDP, makes $5 a day digging trenches in one of the projects, which has enabled her to feed her family of eight, including two grandchildren.
“This is a man’s job,” said Halimo, whose husband left her for another woman. “It is hard labour, but I am glad to even have the opportunity. From the income, I buy food for my children.”
The three-month project, funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (Echo) and run by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) involves digging wells, toilets and construction of a market and a school.
The agencies are also funding women to start small businesses to support their families.
“The idea is to have long-term programmes for vulnerable communities,” said Heather Amstutz, DRC’s country director for the programme.
“Working as a consortium of NGOs, we have formed the Somalia Resilience Programme (SOMReP), a five-year project which will work in strengthening communities and institutions to prepare and deal with shocks in Somalia, Somaliland and Puntland.”
The aid agencies are working with the administration to help the community access information on changing weather conditions in order to prepare accordingly.