The ECHO-Multi-Purpose Cash Transfer revived the small-scale businesses and enhanced the livelihood of the drought-stricken villagers in Ogorale Location.
Salat Ahmed Muhumed is a young entrepreneur who has been successful in his small-scale business dealing with assorted food items and non-food items like gum and resins in Ogorale village of Wajir County. As a local businessman, Salat offers credit facilities to the mobile pastoralists with the promise to pay back once it rains. Theirs is a culture of mutual trust amongst the traders and the community members. A trader like Salat offers goods on credit and the community members faithfully pay him once it has rained and the animals are well fed and sold. This has been the norm amongst the pastoral communities for decades.
In the last one year, the drought situation in Northern Kenya has intensified and this has negatively impacted the pastoralists’ livelihoods and consequently the local economy. The rains have failed for three consecutive seasons. The pastoralist communities have waited with hope, season after season for the rains to fall at least for the sake of their livestock. This has created uncertainty and much despair that has shadowed the main livelihood of the pastoralist community in Northern Kenya. The drought has intensified, and the grip of its fangs has been felt by every person of all walks of life in Wajir County. Milk and meat availability have plunged downward, the animals’ body condition worsened and eventually started dying in huge numbers. When one walks around the villages in the county, all they are met with are the decaying livestock carcasses that were once the livelihood of the community.
In this dire situation, the community members were unable to pay back the accumulating debts owed to Salat. The profit margin of his business dropped steeply as he watched helplessly. They continued to purchase, on credit, his remaining stock and eventually it was obvious that he had to indefinitely close his shop. By January 2022 his shop was partially closed, and new world of trauma started engulfing his life.
Despair set in. Salat’s mind was preoccupied with fear and anxiety emanating from his brokenness and emptiness. He lost vision to fight back the ropes of poverty; he was financially incapacitated and unable to fend for his family anymore, he was at the verge of running away from his family and was staring at hunger and poverty.
Salat represents many other traders in the area whose businesses and sources of livelihood have closed indefinitely. These businessmen also had dependents (children and old parents) who looked up to them for their basic needs. All this happened courtesy of a common uninvited visitor by the name drought, which has blood lineage of famine. Sequential drought devastated the key livelihood of the Wajir County pastoralist community. The impact of recurrent drought in Wajir County has affected the vulnerable population resulting food insecurity and malnutrition.
Situation before intervention The main source of income for the people of Wajir County is mainly livestock, including goats, camels, cows; others practice small scale entrepreneurship and farming, which is very minimal and unproductive due to the dry nature of Wajir County. Many households have lost all or most of their livestock due to the prolonged drought. The remaining livestock are so thin and weak, and their prices have gone so low; it is even harder to see the livestock market operating.
When ALDEF Kenya received funding from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operation (ECHO), through Oxfam, on March 2022, it was a timely opportunity to respond to the drought by assisting the most affected population in Wajir County. In this regard, for the purpose of coordination and objectivity, ALDEF Kenya convened a meeting for Wajir cash working group which is a branch of Wajir County Steering Committee (CSG) to deliberate on which area of Wajir was most affected by the drought. With the then latest report, it was agreed that Tarbaj Sub County was most affected. Through the sub county CSG and Key Informant Interviews (KII) it was noted that Elben Ward of Tarbaj Sub County was most affected, especially the Ogorale Village.
Through this prospect, ALDEF Kenya visited Ogorale Village for the physical survey and ultimate community mobilization for the registration of 225 households which would receive KES. 9255 for five cycles. The selection criteria for the cash beneficiaries was announced in public gathering where diverse community members attended. In the same meeting the community members were asked to identify a reliable community member to lead as a community mobiliser. It is at this point that the Ogorale village members identified Salat Ahmed Muhumed as their community mobiliser. ALDEF Kenya informed him of his role and engagement as the chosen community mobiliser.
“That’s the day my destiny took another direction of hope from the direction of despair and anguish”, Salat, responded, when asked about how the cash transfer program benefitted him.
“Not only the small earning helped me re-ignite my business, but everybody who owed me money was able to pay me back when they received the cash transfer disbursement. Besides this, the people now have more purchasing power which means my customers can buy goods and services using hard cash” he said in a promising wide smile.
Salat’s shop, as well as other shops in the village, sprang back to life. The cash transfer initiative was timely and God-sent. Salat was not the only beneficiary of the cash transfer. The other small-scale traders have tasted the fresh air and hope to regain power to fight poverty. Most of the ECHO cash beneficiaries used the cash to buy food, water, medications, offset bad debts, pay fees and few of them started small scale business with small amount accrued in the five months of the cash transfer project.
Humanity is the fountain that emanates the energy that keeps the donors support to the most vulnerable in the community to save lives and trigger livelihood. The ECHO funding in this case has been a fountain that instilled resilience and hope in the pastoralist village of Ogolare during a devastating drought.
Story compiled by Mohamed Turane, ALDEF
Edited by ASAL Humanitarian Network
“Not only the small earning helped me re-ignite my business, but everybody who owed me money was able to pay me back when they received the cash transfer disbursement. Besides this, the people now have more purchasing power''”