Where are you from in Somalia? How long have you worked for HIRDO?
I am from Mogadishu and have been working with Horn International Relief and Development Organisation (HIRDO) for the last six months.
How does the current situation compare to previous droughts in Somalia?
The current drought is different from the previous ones, because of the crop failure, limited cereal supply from neighbouring countries, and global price shocks stemming from the Russia-Ukraine war driving up the price of food commodities by more than 200 percent. This exceeds the price hikes during the 2011-2012 famine.
What do you do and how do you like your job?
I manage the project supported by HelpAge. This involves supervising project activities; managing the team; reporting on progress; providing technical guidance; providing overall management and financial oversight and evaluating any potential problems and proposing solutions. I like my job; it is the only source of income for my family upkeep. My worry is the limited funding opportunity that could compromise my job security, otherwise, I’m passionate about humanitarian work.
How do you cope seeing so much suffering?
I meditate, take time with my family, go to the beach to have some fresh air and sometimes I seek counselling from a doctor to relieve myself from stress, anxiety and depression when it arises.
What is HIRDO going to do to help improve the situation?
HIRDO will make a concerted effort to voice the concerns of older people so that all relevant organisations will have them on their agenda and will empower them through constructive engagement which I hope will contribute towards positive changes in their lives and help strengthen their resilience.
What does the support of HelpAge mean to you?
HelpAge’s support is so crucial as we are on the brink of famine and food prices are skyrocketing and there are no organisations focussing on the needs of older people.
It’s a great opportunity to be able to respond to this emergency humanitarian crisis and to help those who are more vulnerable, including older people, the disabled and women-headed households.
HelpAge’s support has created not only a window of hope but has also helped me to enhance my career during a period of uncertainty in my home country.
What needs to be done by Government/NGOs
The federal government of Somalia must ensure security and stability in the country. The government should also fully engage the private sectors and harmonise efforts to alleviate poverty.
Donors and international partner should scale up their support to Somalia through robust fundraising to help Somalia stand on its feet.
The government and international donors must do what they can to combat climate change that is causing drought and famine.
Have you ever been personally affected by conflict and drought?
Yes, the civil war after the fall of the Somali government in the 90s and the current ongoing insecurity from the Alshabab terrorist groups have had their fair share of impact on me and my family.
After the civil war erupted in 1991, my family was forced to flee from our home in Baidoa to the hinterlands where there was no access to schooling and life was unbearable due to hardship. When the conflict spread to the rural villages, we were forced to run away again (separating me from some of my family members). Part of my family including my mother crossed the border into Kenya, while I fled with my father to Mogadishu.
The conflict remained tense even in Mogadishu and it was difficult to get by as we had lost all our assets. Two years later, my father decided to send me to Kenya to join my mother while he remained in Somalia. I was happy to be able to go to school following the series of displacements and childhood traumatising encounters.
The second part is the conflict by the terrorist group, Alshabab which has been ongoing in the country since 2007. Almost no single day passes without a terror incident…be it an explosive attack, targeted killings, threats and intimidations etc. which has left scars of endless fears in my mind because you never know what the next hour will hold.
One of the deep traumatising effects is the loss of friends, relatives and loved ones in the explosions. The impact is far worse than the conflict in the 90s because of the dozens of killings (which now seem to be the order of the day) and the limited chances of survival in Mogadishu.
Since my return to Mogadishu in 2013, there is not a minute that goes by when I am not worried about security. We are all hurting now, although I still have the courage that I will one day see a better Somalia. I live by the grace of God.
Do you have children? What are their names and how old are they?
Yes, I’m blessed with four daughters.
Munaza (11), Umulkheir (9.5), Maida (8) and Amira (1).
The first three go to school.
What are your hopes for the future? For yourself and your spouse? And for your children?
My hope for the future is to advance myself and my wife’s education and professional career so that we are able to contribute towards humanity and peace development, and make significant contribution to people’s lives. I also hope to see my children excel in education and become future doctors, lawyers, engineers and pilots, that also contribute to human development.
And for Somalia?
My hope for Somalia is to see a progressive and peaceful nation that values human life and dignity. A Somalia that is at peace with itself and the world.