Innovative Approaches: Social Safety Nets in Somalia

We understand that the most vulnerable households are often the first victims of a natural or manmade catastrophe. Drought is no exception.

Often forced to sell their meager assets, including livestock, these families have little resilience against future shocks. Even a relatively small event, such as the death of an animal, can plunge them into crisis, often forcing them to rely on humanitarian aid for survival.

Somalia, Badhan cash payout


Social Safety Nets (SSN) was a three-year project implemented by Adeso and Save the Children with funding from the European Union and the Government of Sweden to reduce community vulnerability to chronic food insecurity in two vulnerable regions of Puntland, Somalia: Sanaag and Karkaar. The project was implemented from 2010-2012.

The project targeted 2,200 households (reaching approximately 15,400 people) – women-headed households, labor-poor households and other vulnerable groups in the community were given top priority. Households who were unable to work were provided with a predictable cash transfer to help them deal with immediate crises, manage their limited resources and start to invest in the future. Others received training and a larger one-time grant so that they could start new livelihood activities.


A predictable income creates the safety net needed to restore assets and put money aside. Over time, these households are able to move towards financial independence and away from humanitarian assistance, regaining their dignity and self-respect along the way. It is also a less expensive way for donors and governments to cultivate resilience, removing the need to respond to shocks with a large-scale humanitarian response.

At the start of SSN, 34.1% of households did not have enough food to last the day. By May 2012, nearly 50% had enough food to last between one week and one month. External evaluation shows that the security of a regular, predictable cash safety net brought many other benefits.