Somalia

AU-UN IST Photo/Tobin Jones

In Somalia, years of civil war, famine, piracy and attacks by extremist groups have destroyed much of the economy, and forced millions to flee. In this fragile situation, militant group al-Shabaab recruits marginalised people, promising money and shelter.

In the city of Kismayo, we work with local organisation, SADO, to provide skills training in mechanics, electronics and tailoring. This supports local young people to build livelihoods, get jobs and earn an income, providing a practical alternative to militant groups or the treacherous boat journey across the Mediterranean.

Somalia: Country overview

Over 3.5 million people in Somalia have been affected by war and famine in the past 20 years. Fighting between rival warlords has destroyed the infrastructure and forced over one million people to flee their homes for the safety of neighbouring Kenya.

There was no functioning national government for nearly two decades from 1991 to 2012, and the activities of Islamic militants like al-Shabaab have complicated the situation further.

The city of Kismayo in the south-east, is home to more than 30 rival clans and 2000 militia members, all competing for political and economic power. Al-Shabaab remain approximately 30 km outside the city, their threat ever-present.

Political, economic and social tensions threaten a hard won sense of stability. Marginalisation coupled with large scale population displacement and ineffective state security contribute to an unpredictable and potentially flammable situation.

 

Creating jobs as an alternative to militant groups

In Kismayo, southeastern Somalia, we work with local partner SADO to train young men and women at risk of militia recruitment to become mechanics, electricians and tailors  – providing a practical alternative to a life of violence.

SAMSUNG CSC

Growing up in Somalia, extremist recruitment is a constant threat. For many, joining a militia group or attempting the treacherous boat journeys across the Mediterraean can seem like the only option for survival.

Our three year project funded by the EU supports young people away from militant groups and into jobs. 1460 young men and women will receive vocational skills training and have the opportuntiy to join apprenticeships, so that they have solid job skills to earn a living. Many are from areas most devastated by conflict, or are refugees in their own country, and are extremely vulnerable to militia recruitment. Half the trainees are women, which ensures inclusion and promotes equality and respect in many male dominated trades.

Some will also be given micro-loans to set up their own small businesses once they graduate. This helps reduce poverty and alienation so that young people do not turn to the black market or are tempted to join a militia for their living or their sense of identity.

A second part of the project focuses on building peace between previoulsy warring communities. We work with the Kismayo Peace Committee to unite youth groups, women’s groups, local authority figures, clan leaders and local government together. So far, there have been some major breakthroughs in bringing together rival clan representatives.

 

Before I joined SADO’s vocational training, my ambition was to join the boat migration to Europe. How to migrate and reach Europe was my biggest worry. Today such worries have vanished. I am a skilled person and can create my own business.

– Abdifatah, young trainee in Somalia.

 

In their words: Nimo's Story

My name is Nimo and I am 20 years old. I was born in Kismayo. I went to school and reached intermediate level, but then I could not go any longer. I stayed at home without hope of a good future. My father is unemployed and my mother supports the family from a small fruit and vegetable business in Kismayo market. We feel miserable when we fail to cover all our expenses.

One day last October I heard about a skills training project in Kismayo and I inquired how to get the opportunity. I applied and was admitted to the tailoring class. I joined because I was looking for a life-saving skill which I was very keen to find in order to build my future.

Since I joined a great change has taken place in my life because I was not only learning a skill, but also receive a small amount of money – $60 per month. For the first time I coupled money and skills together. The life of my family has also changed and even in the community my respect is growing. They consider me a professional female that can deal with the male dominated activity of tailoring.

I acquired the $300 after graduation that helped me to buy a tailoring machine and gave me the opportunity of creating my own business. If I hadn’t found this opportunity I would be sitting idle in the house without hope. I would not be anything except an uneducated and unemployed person.

 

News from the field

Blogs, stories, reports and opinion

"I do not have to rely on humanitarian help any more"

Two years ago, Fartun made the decision to flee her beautiful home. If she stayed, she risked being killed by armed extremists. Read more »

Askiro’s story: building a new life after war

With the help of a local organisation offering skills training and business management support, Askiro has turned the life of her family around. Read more »

Fight or flight? The difficulties young people face in Somalia

Against a backdrop of bomb blasts by militant group al-Shabaab, 116 young people in Somalia recently overcame a past torn apart by conflict & clan violence. Read more »

Research and in-depth analysis

From our website Insight on Conflict