Cash for Work: Panacea to changing lives

Cash for Work Program is a temporary employment given to the most vulnerable crisis-affected population – by assistance organizations. Its aim is to ensure that households are able to meet their food requirements, as well as daily subsistence. This program by NoFYL commenced on July, 2019 and went on consecutively for two months, in all the 8 Camps in Kaxda and Deynille Districts and was completed at the end of August, 2019. It was funded by Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF). A total number of 200 beneficiaries were targeted (120 women and 80 men).

Majority of the people involved in the cash for work program were women as a lot of them were the sole providers in their family. The Cash for Work supremely impacted the IDPs colossally. Before the site maintenance, their camp looked overtly different. After the site maintenance, the changes were immensely visible.

Habiba Hassan, 55, from Ceel Hareeri camp in Kaxda was not always fond of her camp and this was due to many things. “Before, the drainage was very poor.” She started, “There was stagnant water everywhere when it rained, but now after the site maintenance, the drainage has improved to a great extent.” She adds, pointing to different areas in the camp where there were small pool of filthy water, painting a stark picture of how different it was before the activities.

Beneficiaries taking part in cash for work program in Kaxda District, Banadir Region.

We also came across Abdullahi Adan, 37, in Osingow camp. A tall, meagre looking man. He had a bushy head, dented cheeks chiseled by the unyielding elements, scabrous skin and sunken eyes. He stopped us as we were wallowing about in the camp and thanked us for the good work, a tad too many times, actually. “I would like to first thank you for giving us work. I also thank you for the changes you made in our camp.” He said, this time holding my hand and my shoulder, albeit in a surprising way. It had a cathartic feeling to it “Do you see any waste around?” He asked, this time circumambulating across the camp. His face was radiant all this time, may be beaming with pride at the good work they have done. “We used to leave waste around, and it piled up but now we not only collect them regularly but we know how to do away with them.”  He says they dig open holes on the ground and bury the waste. Other times they burn it.

He then continues to say how the waste was blithely ignored and dumped with reckless abandon and how the huge deluge of waste hindered accessibility and movements. “Roads in the camp were blocked due to the large waste in many areas and it was not easy to access my house easily, the way to the mosque was filled with waste as well.” He added. “Now after the activities the distance has reduced and this has eased movement.” He finished, this time letting go of my hand and shoulder.

The air was replete with fresh sentiments in all the 8 camps that we implemented the Cash for Work program. All of the different beneficiaries we talked to exuded happiness and painted a complete better picture after the site maintenance activities. The infant steps has started.  The changes was quite ubiquitous. But despite the polished facade, more work needs to be done. They said the activities were planned very well and carried out smoothly. Also, the payments were made on time.

In Dayax camp, we met Fadhumo Mohamud, 36. Never loquacious, Fadhumo was now totally lost for words. “I have a lot to say but I just want to thank you for giving work to me. I paid my debt with the money. I always take foodstuffs from a shop here and pay by the end of the month.” She sighed with relief before continuing, “This two months I did not have any worry about making payments to the shop on time.”

In Al Hidaya camp, we were stopped by Farah Hassan, 35. He was shouting from inside his shop before greeting us with raillery. He said that after receiving his incentives, he saved and opened up the shop, albeit a small one. He didn’t want to spend the money on frivolous wants. “I started by selling fruits and vegetables, but as you can see I have added foodstuffs and am planning to grow it.” He then pointed to a fledgling structure that was under construction. “This has changed my life.” He said before the shop, he would do manual job to support his young family.

In Kun Deeq camp, Amina Samow, 50, says that as much as the cash for work has helped her, she still has comments to make. “All my needs are not covered, and I am requesting for extension of the program the next time.” She says the extension could mean more work and that would mean more money for her. She has 6 children who solely depend on her. For some inexplicable reason, we felt sorry for her.

In Degan Bille camp, Ali Mohamud, 42, decried the infinitesimal amount of incentives given to him. “I have a big family, and I must say the money has helped me in some way but it is not enough to cover everything.” He paused, then continued, “I wish the next time this program comes, the amount of money will be increased.”

In Samawade camp, Mustaf Hassan, 55, said that before the site maintenance, every household used to dump waste in front of their house. It was grotesque to say the least.  “Everyone just threw domestic waste outside sometimes through their windows, it was ugly here but now we have a cleaning routine in the camp and a common place to dump our waste.”

In the same camp, Mama Amina Omar, who was not in the program, wanted to add a comment and show her unreserved appreciation for the stellar work done in her camp. Like many in her camp, she was listening in to our conversation. “We are grateful for the work you have done here, we are breathing fresh air and there is no more bad smell around. All the holes has been filled and I am requesting you to consider me in your program next time.” She finished, smiling and looking away, probably feeling shy from the horde that had gathered around.

We lastly ended at Alan Futow camp, where we met Ikran Abdinasir, 38. She started by thanking us for the program and saying that she used her incentive to buy medicine for her 6-year old child. “The money came at a good time because my boy was sick and I needed it. The rest I used to buy foodstuff.”

Falhad Sheikh Omar, 37, told us that at first her husband did not want her going to work but as the money started sprinkling in, he was okay with it. Her husband, Hussein Mohamed, 45, who is disabled, responded that he didn’t know the money would come in at first but allowed her to go half-heartedly. He also thanked us for the work done in his camp and requested we consider his wife next time.

Cash transfer was the modality used for this intervention and NoFYL provided direct cash transfer via mobile phones to beneficiaries, securing them with the opportunity to spend cash on their prioritized needs to cater the immediate lifesaving necessities.

We left all the tools at their disposal after we extensively agreed with the camp committee that all camps will carry out cleanliness every Thursday going forward. This will be on a voluntary basis.

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