Cash aid helps rebuild lives in Somaliland

Families have lost everything in the aftermath of Cyclone Sagar. Cash aid is the fastest way to help them.

“I am 80 years old, and I have never seen a storm like this in my lifetime,” says Habane Abdi. He is a longtime resident of Somaliland´s Awdal region. He lives in one of over 50 villages in the region that were severely hit by the tropical cyclone Sagar between the 16th and 19th of May this year.  

This past May set monthly records for rain and extreme weather all across Somalia. Cyclone Sagar – the country´s first ever storm of such magnitude – dropped a year’s worth of rain on the country in just a few days, and added a new dimension to the pre-existing humanitarian response actions taking place in the country. 

Borama and the surrounding towns are known for its beautiful hills and incredibly green environment. In this picture are two farmers who show some of the destruction that was caused by cyclone Sagar. Shakur Ali/NRC

First drought, then a cyclone

“After two years of severe drought, the cyclone has crippled the livelihoods of people who were recovering from the droughts,” says Ibrahim Omar, who leads the Norwegian Refugee Council´s (NRC) operation in Somaliland.

“Sagar has destroyed crops and livestock. Lives were lost, and due to the flooding it has been difficult to reach out to people in need.”

The National Disaster Management Authority, NADFOR, estimated that 49 people have been killed, and over 70 are still missing. Nearly 168,000 people were directly affected by the cyclone and around 277 hectares of land have been destroyed. More than 10,000 people had to flee their homes to save their lives.

Thousands of people are in dire need of support to rebuild their livelihoods.

Cash is smart aid

NRC has been a long-time advocate for cash aid in humanitarian crises. It has proven to be one of the most efficient and dignified ways to support people in need.

Sagar has ruined livelihoods, destroyed homes, and contaminated waters, long term issues that compound existing hardships. With cash, families have been able to buy what they need right away.

Sahra Cige (41) rebuilds after the cyclone swept away her home and all of her belongings. Sahra is a recipient of our cash programming. When the storm hit, that cash became her sole form of income as she lost all of her livelihood means. Photo: Hamse Ali/NRC

Sahra Cige, 41, and her family of six have been among those worst hit in region.
The storm ruined our home and all of our belongings. For the first few days after the storm, all of us and our neighbours had to sleep in a school nearby,” she says.

Sahra has been receiving cash assistance for two months as part of our emergency drought response funded by the Somali Humanitarian Fund (SHF). When the storm hit, the cash became their only way to access food.

The fear of waterborne diseases

The humanitarian need is great in Somaliland. In addition to destroying what’s left of peoples’ livelihoods, Sagar has piled cases of illness upon a population that is still struggling to cope after the country´s worst drought in 20 years. Several cases of diarrhea have been reported in the area.

Rahma Abdi (39) lost all of her sheep and small farm due to the storm. With an already limited access to clean water, cyclone Sagar further contaminated the water in Rahma’s village. Four of her children were hit with diarrhea and there is a growing fear of other waterborne diseases to affect these communities. Photo: Hamse Ali/NRC

“These communities already lack access to clean water and proper latrines. This is worsened by the dead livestock that is likely to contaminate the water streams,” says Omar.

Cash, like any other form of aid, is most efficient when combined with other kinds of humanitarian assistance. In Somaliland, we provide people with cash along with hygiene kits, life-saving aid like shelter, and aqua tabs to purify water.

This is one step towards working to prevent waterborne disease and helping people rebuild their lives.