Natural disasters, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, social instability – the Somaliland region is facing multiple crises at the same time. Improving Disaster Risk Management and Food Security to Strengthen Resilience in Somaliland, a transitional development assistance project implemented on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), is addressing them. It is also working to increase economic, political and social participation for women and young people.
The wonder of refrigeration
The amazing story of a successful dairywoman, helpful cooling and an enthusiastic community. Out and about in the Somaliland region.
Milk pays for medical studies
Food is precious, and difficult to store. This is why the refrigerators are so important for Mohamoud and the success of her small business. She now earns enough from selling milk to be able to send her eight children to school, and can even pay for her oldest son to study medicine.
Mohamoud herself has never sat in a classroom. ‘There was no school in the village where I grew up,’ she says. But she has not let her lack of formal education hold her back. ‘I learned arithmetic and a little writing in Somali in my everyday life,’ the small business owner explains. And her business sense is plainly something she was born with.
It is not left to her alone to generate the family’s income as her husband works in the business too. Ifrah Mohamoud used the first profits she earned from selling milk to buy a minibus, and employs her husband as a driver. Every morning he travels round the surrounding villages to collect the milk.
The part that refrigerators can play in this is demonstrated in Karasharka. Here, a group of 19 women and one man are gaining directly from the cooling hubs, but essentially they benefit all 250 households in the village. This is because the village development committee collects money for joint projects from all the residents. As individuals become wealthier, the community is better off as a result. The committee has now gathered enough to start building a health centre.
According to Ali Hirsi, who heads the committee, this would have been impossible without the refrigerators: ‘The milk traders contributed most of the money for it.’ The shell of the health centre building is already up, and GIZ will finance its completion. ‘We think this initiative that the village launched is admirable and want to support it,’ says Carola von Morstein. Until September 2023, she was responsible for coordinating GIZ projects in Somaliland, and knows Karasharka very well. The government has already agreed to cover the cost of the health care staff’s salaries once the building is finished.
There are even more people who benefit indirectly, namely those who buy the milk. Many of them are passing through the village, as Karasharka lies on an important road connecting the interior of the region with the port city of Berbera. Since Karasharka now has a reputation as a ‘milk village’, many travellers plan a brief stop there to pick some up for themselves. Camel milk, goat milk and cow milk are all available.
Abdirashid Ali has just pulled up in his truck outside the cooling hub. He plies this transit route daily, carrying goods. Every day he picks up 20 milk containers in Karasharka, each one holding 28 litres. He sells them in Berbera on commission, a handy source of extra income for him. Ali himself likes camel milk best, praising it as being ‘particularly nutritious’. And then he’s off on his way again. With the milk that can change lives here.