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A woman sits in a camp surrounded by several young childrenA woman sits in a camp surrounded by several young childrenA woman sits in a camp surrounded by several young children

'I now have dignity' - restoring hope to families amid Somalia's devastating drought and conflict

'I now have dignity' - restoring hope to families amid Somalia's devastating drought and conflict

Having to flee home amid conflict with your young children and just the essentials you can carry is unimaginable for many of us. This is the reality for many families in Somalia, who are also living through the country's worst drought in seven decades.

Khuresha Ali Hussein had to leave her home in Qoryooley in the Lower Shabelle region last September, due to the continuing conflict.

They had to flee with just the clothes on their back and whatever they could carry. She now lives with her nine children in Mareeg IDP Camp in the Kahda District, in the capital Moghadishu.

'We didn't have hope'

Khuresha and her family had previously depended on farming as their source of income but their livelihoods were destroyed by the drought.

Khuresha says the drought displaced her and the majority of the families living in the IDP camp: "The prolonged drought reduced our income and livelihoods, we couldn’t even afford to pay for our transport fare. Therefore, we could not have reached Mogadishu without the support of relatives who paid our travel expenses.

When we were coming to Mogadishu, life was so difficult for us and we didn’t have hope.

Khuresha Ali Hussein

Khuresha is a single mother and when the family eventually made it to Mogadishu, she looked for work to support her children.

She started to work as a housemaid; washing clothes for families outside of the area. This work was hard to find on a regular basis because of low demand. It also did not pay well - between 50,000 and 100,000 Somali Shilling per week (equivalent to 30 USD). She said it was not enough to feed her children.

'Hunger is enemy'

In January 2023, Concern received additional humanitarian funding from the European union to provide emergency cash transfers to struggling families.

Working with our local partner YouthLink, Concern went to the Mareeg camp and briefed the community on the programme and the targeting criteria.

Khuresha explains the experience, “I was one of the selected households for the programme, and the Concern team told me that I would receive 180 USD a month for three months. We received the first transfer on 26 January 2023.”

Khuresha says that her family’s life is better now compared to how it was before.

Now we have something to eat while previously there were times that we only ate one meal per day and sometimes nothing at all.

Khuresha Ali Hussein

Khuresha received $180 USD per month for three months under the programme to help her family buy food and other essentials. She says she is thankful for the support but with the drought forecast to continue, she is fearful about what the future holds for her and her children. 

"When we received the first cash transfer notification message, I went immediately to the market to buy food; 25kgs of rice, 25kgs of sugar, five litres of oil, 15kgs of wheat flour, vegetables and other non-food items that we extremely needed.

"That is the first thing we think about, as we say in our language, 'Gaajo Waa Caadow' - meaning that 'hunger is enemy'."

Reflecting on how life has changed since she received the cash transfers, she added: "I now have dignity, I feel better and I am no longer begging."

A woman holds her granddaughter's hand as they walk through a village in Kenya

Horn of Africa Appeal

  • Millions on the brink of starvation

  • No rainfall in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia since 2019

  • One person dying from hunger every 36 seconds

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