Alternative Livelihoods for Greater Community Resilience
Adan Mohammed experienced first hand the effects of drought when he lost his animals to the 2011-2012 drought, leaving his family devastated and unable to cope up with the effects of the drought in Wajir. Adan, aged 40, a husband and a father to six children, four girls and two boys is a pastoralist, a businessman and also the chairman of the Ajawa Community Disaster Management Committee (CDMC).
In 2012 before the establishment of the committee, Mohammed, the sole breadwinner of his household was fully dependent on pastoralism for his family’s needs such as food, healthcare and education for his children. He owned 150 goats and 20 camels. He would sell his animals in the Wajir and Moyale livestock markets in order to get money to support his family, but he realized the animals were not fetching him enough money especially during droughts when the sale of the animals dropped to very low prices due to the deteriorated animal body condition. For instance, when the market is good, a male mature camel would fetch him KES 100,000 (Euros 935) but during the drought season, the same male mature camel would fetch him about KES 30,000 (Euros 280) leading to significantly high losses in his income level.
Adan diversified his livelihood from the traditional pastoralism to include a business to help shield his family from the effects of disasters such as drought, which has currently hit his community. This shift in mindset happened after the EU humanitarian aid funded Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR) training in 2012 targeting the whole community. The community then selected the committee to represent them. The training as well as the formation of the CDMCs was aimed at building the capacities of vulnerable communities such as his to prepare and quickly respond to localized disasters such as drought. The consortium partners are currently working with the 64 committees (42 in Marsabit, 10 in Wajir and 12 in Turkana) to continue strengthening their capacities to cope and respond to disasters through community led action by conducting refresher training on CMDRR. In addition, the consortium seeks to foster and strengthen linkages between the CDMCs and the County government planning and resource allocation process, private sector and other stakeholders to enable them to mobilize resources for the implementation of prioritized activities from the communities disaster management plans (CDMPs).
After the CMDRR training in 2012 by WASDA and Oxfam through financial support from EU humanitarian aid, Mohammed was inspired to consider an alternative livelihood to supplement his income levels. This resulted in him starting a shop in his town centre of Ajawa. To start off his business in 2013, he sold 70 goats and five camels, which he personally took to the Wajir market at a logistical cost of KES 17,500 (euros 164). He made KES 170,000 (Euros 1,588) in profit from the sale of 70 goats and KES 200,000 (Euros 1869) from the sale of 5 camels. With the money he made, Mohammed started a shop in Ajawa town at an initial capital of KES 120,000 (Euros 1121) selling foodstuff, groceries, clothes and paraffin. With the rest of money, he paid school fees for his four children currently in primary school (one is still a toddler), his two brothers in secondary school and his one other brother in a technical college.
Mohammed says his shop business has picked up and he is now relaxed knowing that he has an alternative livelihood to support this family incase of drought that is currently affecting his community or any other emergency. He says that he makes an average KES15, 000 (Euros 140) per month in profits after deducting his capital expenses.
“Before joining the Community Disaster Management committee, I never imagined or considered running a business like a shop, but this group has empowered me with skills and life changing information. It has also instilled confidence in me to try out other things besides pastoralism.” says Adan Mohammed.
He says he can now confidently run a successful business and support his family needs, he now feels more relaxed and prepared in case of a disaster, his family will cope with the situation. Mohammed hopes to see his community consider alternative livelihoods. He is happy that through the community, he is learning how to manage his business better and access wider markets for his goods.
The project has not only focused on diversification of livelihoods but has included training on Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction which has also allowed communities to take proactive measures with their available resources against different disasters including conflict, wild fires, and livestock diseases. In light of the current dry spell (October – November 2016), which has affected the livestock market, Adan and other community members are committing resources towards water trucking to ensure their remaining animals survive the current situation. Adan says selling his livestock now will not be ideal because of the bad market prices.
In the current Phase (6) 2016/2017, Oxfam through WASDA and ALDEF, local partner organizations are working with the communities helping them improve their capacities to prepare, cope and recover from emergencies through community led initiatives, one among them is the diversification of livelihoods from the traditional pastoralism. The partners, through the CMDRR approach, are working to ensure communities are at the forefront in managing disasters and fostering resilience through close collaboration with state and non-state actors. This approach has helped strengthen the capacities through which vulnerable communities living in the arid and semi arid lands prepare, mitigate, prevent, react and respond to disasters. The Consortium partners therefore also seek to have the CMDRR approach adopted by the government as a protocol for community level disaster management
“We cannot depend on one source of income. Like now that we are faced with drought and our livestock are dying, an alternative livelihood can help us save the lives of our people and our livestock. If you have two sources of income, when one is not productive, the second one can help us.” Says Mohammed
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 Concern Worldwide and Oxfam in Kenya. Transparency International is the accountability partner using the Uwajibikaji Platform and does not work directly with communities.