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Displaced Somali women utilize survival skills

Wednesday April 12, 2023

By Jamal Ahmed Osman

FILE - Somali women who fled drought-stricken areas start to build shelters at a makeshift camp on the outskirts of the capital Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 4, 2022.

Since the 1991 collapse of Somalia’s central government, many Somalis had fled the country, while thousands of others have been internally displaced. Many get help from aid organizations, and some make a living by utilizing skills for survival.

Despite being considered vulnerable, some internally displaced Somali women stood up to provide their families with daily food.

A large number of displaced women live in Bosaso, the capital of the Bari region, Puntland State of Somalia, and use skills to provide food for their families.

Many women wake up every morning to earn a living. Some of them reach the centers where recently-harvested crops, such as corn and sorghum, are sold.

Those women work for $3 to $5 a day, depending on how much work they do.

They separate the seeds of the crop from the chaff using a mortar, pestle and other locally made tools.

Zeynab Ali Ahmed is one of the displaced women in Bosaso. She is a mother who also works sorting husks from crops.

"They bring us the crops from the farms; we sort the crops from the chaff," she told VOA. "We separate the husks of corn or other seed by winnowing or threshing using locally made baskets."

Zeynab said they also work in the fields.

"We work the farms, removing unwanted plants from the [field] and leave the seeded crops," she said. "We take the chaff and sell them out to other pastoralists. We usually sell one bag of husk for 20 thousand Somali shillings ($0.90 cents USD)."

The women pass their skills to their children so that they can make money, too, and learn a skill.

Hawa Abdi Mohamud is one of the women who learned her job from her parents, whom she works alongside, making Somali traditional prayers mats and other artifacts.

"We inherited these skills from our parents and, thank God, and now we use them to earn a daily living."

The women believe that if their skills are developed or if they are given other professional training, many displaced people would be freed from relying on humanitarian aid agencies.

Fadumo Yasin Jama contributed to this report.


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