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Donated fishing gear helps poor Sanag families to make a new living

File Photo/ Ergo

(ERGO) – Grants of fishing equipment to impoverished local families in Somaliland’s Sanag region have given destitute former pastoralists a new form of stable income.

Amina Salad Shirwac, a mother of eight in Erigabo, set up a stall in the newly built market, selling the fish caught by her eldest son.

After years of destitution and hardship as an IDP, her family now enjoys all three meal after being boosted the government’s donation of a boat and fishing nets.

“It has changed our lives. There was unemployment in the area and people weren’t consuming fish, but we are now making good sales. It has been beneficial because we can now pay our rent and all other expenses,” she said.

Amina’s eldest son, aged 19, goes out along the Maydh coastal area with the small boat and fishing net that they received from the Somaliland Development Fund.

“Sometime we get fish and sometimes we don’t. When there is fish we get a lot of fish and when there is less, we catch whatever God gives us. There are times when we don’t get any fish and the boats get pulled from the water as the winds are too strong,” she said.

Amina has been making $500 a month for the past four months from fish sales, which beats that small earnings she used to make from cleaning jobs. The family has been able to relocate from their makeshift shelter to a three-room iron sheet house where they pay $120 rent. She has enrolled five of her children in school for the first time, paying $40 for their fees at Daallo school.

This family were pastoralists living in Gaid district, 45 km from Erigabo, until losing their 20 camels and 120 goats to the severe drought in 2011. This forced them to migrate to the town.

Amina says she had always hoped to start a sustainable business, although she struggled to raise the capital to kick-start it.

The chairman of the Somaliland Development fund in Sanag region, Said Ahmed Salah, said 200 women from displaced and very poor families in Erigabo had been supported with equipment, capacity building training skills, and access to the new market and fish storage facilities.

Most were pastoralists who had been dispossessed of their livestock.

“The people who have been struggling with livelihoods have now got a stable income. If it is food, they can get fish and they can also sell it at a profit,” he said.

He noted that $280,000 worth of equipment was disbursed to these local women and their families. Most of them are fishing in Maydh and Hiis coastal areas and selling in the Erigabo markets.

For some of the women, like Suad Said Arale, this is the first time they are working as principal family income providers. Suad also set up a fish stall that now supports her family including her 13 children and husband.

They had been living as IDPs for eight years and have now been able to move to a four-room house.

“We have covered most of our needs. We used to miss out on meals, eating only once or twice a day,” she said.

Two of her children were studying at the local Jeembar school and as her income improved she has enrolled four more children as well.

Suad was displaced from Yufle area, 90 km from Erigabo, where they lived as pastoralists until drought wiped out their herd of 150 goats.

Source: Radio Ergo

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