Suleekha’s story is an inspiring one of resilience: the 34-year-old mother of six has gone from being unable to feed her children to owning a small shop, thanks to the support of ActionAid in Somaliland.

Somaliland has been experiencing a severe drought for the last four years. The drought has depleted livelihoods, dried up water sources, and forced people to leave their homes in search of food and water. Traditionally, during times of drought, the men migrate with livestock, leaving women behind to care for their children and weak animals that cannot walk.

For Suleekha, this was not the case. She already lives in a camp for internally displaced people (IDP). She could not travel to find water or food for her livestock when the drought struck because she is the primary income earner and caregiver for her children and husband, who is paralyzed. She lost all her livestock, her family’s only source of income, and struggled to feed her family and care for their basic needs. Securing work has been difficult, so she borrowed from relatives to make ends meet.

Suleekha outside her shop with her family. Photo: Farhan Omar/ActionAid Somaliland.

She shared with us:

“For the last six months, life has been hard, and my children have not had three meals per day.”

But despite facing numerous challenges, Suleekha did not give up. Her situation changed when she started receiving cash transfers from ActionAid in Somaliland. With this support, she was able to buy food for her family, pay the school tuition fees for her children, pay off loans she owed, and open a small shop in the IDP camp. Today, because of the support she received from ActionAid, Suleekha is now self-sufficient. Her small shop is thriving, and she can now take care of her family and provide for their basic needs.

“I am very happy that my small business is growing. I am grateful right now because the small shop provides some food to my children and enables me to live better because of the cash assistance I received from ActionAid. I felt desperate and stressed to see my children crying because of no food.”

Suleekha with her children in her shop. Photo: ActionAid.

Women are often left with the burden of caring for their families in difficult situations; therefore, they need more support to cope with crises. Suleekha’s story is a powerful reminder that traditional aid alone is insufficient for achieving lasting change. The support she received from ActionAid empowered her to take control of her life, start her small business, and provide for her family. When an emergency or disaster strikes, ActionAid leverages our existing partnerships in the affected areas to support the people’s long- and short-term needs. In addition to providing emergency aid, we support their recovery and partner with them to build resilience and assert their autonomy over their lives. Thank you to our supporters for making this possible!

Support families on the brink of famine in East Africa

East Africa is facing one of the worst droughts on record with more than 40 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somaliland, and Somalia facing severe hunger and water shortages. Global food prices had already reached record highs when the war on Ukraine began, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, climate disasters, and rising energy costs. Now, communities have reported soaring food and fuel prices. Drought, displacement, and rising hunger are also putting women and girls at increased risk of gender-based violence.

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