Turning Batula’s Life for the Better
Published May 22, 2018 by Kiman Noor Mohamed
Welcome to Al Amin shop in Kowad village of Afmadow district in Lower Juba region, Somalia. When you enter you will be greeted with a warm welcoming smile from Batula, an active member of the Al Amin income generation activity (IGA) group that set up the shop. Whether you want to buy food, vegetables, household utensil, or want to check the colorful scarves and dresses that adorn one side of the shop, Batula will be more than happy assist you.
Not too long ago, Batula was a happy mother and housewife and her husband took care of the providing for the family. The family’s life took a turn for the worse in 2015 when Batula’s husband fell ill and died. Soon, Batula had to take on the dual responsibility of a homemaker and a breadwinner. Batula supported her family by cleaning houses and washing clothes but this was time-consuming and barely made her enough to buy food or send the children to school.
“When I was a stay at home mother, my husband who had a few herds of cattle provided for us. He was very supportive. When he died I had to take over the responsibility of putting food on the table, and it’s been very difficult,” she recalls.
Providing for 12 children with no skills, education or an asset was challenging for Batula. However, fending for her children gave Batula a purpose to live for. Batula decided to move from Afmadow to Dhobley where her family lives. With the help of her brother and other family members she opened a grocery shop in a room in her house, this way she was able to make a small income while keeping an eye on her children. However, the income she was making was so small, Batula still couldn’t afford basic services such as healthcare and education for the children.
When Adeso started providing predictable, unconditional cash transfers under the EC-funded Building Resilience through Social Safety Nets project Batula’s household was one of the families that qualified for a monthly cash assistance of $40 a period of 11 months. This helped Batula complemented the family’s meager income from the shop for some months, but the need for a steadier income source was critical if the family was to break the vicious cycle of poverty they lived in.
In November 2017, Batula became a member of IGAs group Al Amin in Dhobley. The group which is consist of 15 members (80% of which are female) started a blended commodity based business with a support grant of $1000 from the project, in addition to the $750 contributed by members as an entry fee. The group also saves a monthly revolving fund or ‘Ayuto’ of $10 per member which they invested back in the shop for stocking up merchandise and running costs. This increases the capacity of the business and improves the livelihood of the group members.
Today, Al Amin shop sells a variety of food and non-food goods such as sugar, soap, raw food such as rice and pasta and maize, tea leaves, oil, food and tea spices, milk, and other small items. To respond to the community’s demand, the group continues to expand their supply, some of which they sell as both retail and wholesale. So far the shop made its owners a total profit of $650 and they are hopeful that it will make even more, judging from the level of demand it receives.
The Building Resilience through Social Safety Nets project is currently helping 5,000 households, including Batula’s, in Afmadow and Dhobley districts in Lower Juba. This European Commission funded project is being implemented by the STREAM Consortium, (consisting of Adeso, ACTED and SADO) and aims to build the resilience of poor vulnerable communities in the face of recurrent climatic shocks and extreme weather events and their impact on people’s lives and properties.