Kismayo, Somalia, August 2021 – As part of a multi-pronged approach to build community resiliency and support recovery efforts, residents of hardest-hit communities in western Kismayo, Jubaland, received have cash transfers through a UN-Habitat administered programme to mitigate against the economic impacts of COVID-19.

The global COVID-19 has led to a notable increase in the number of people affected by the pandemic in Kismayo, Jubaland and the health system in its current structure and capacity cannot cope with a large-scale spread of the disease. The resilience of communities has been further affected by the cascading impacts of climate change on the food security of the most vulnerable communities. 

UN-Habitat’s COVID-19 response initiative is part of the USD 4.6 million Youth and Urban Regeneration Project (YOURS) funded by the Government of Sweden. The cash transfers targeted 250 families to alleviate their vulnerability, with each household receiving USD 70 from May to July 2021. 

The cash transfer component of the programme leverages UN-Habitat’s experience working with local communities to identify their priorities and needs. The multi-pronged approach also includes the construction of handwashing facilities that are accessible to families in the informal settlements of Kismayo, as well as in selected crowded public points across urban settings, thus contributing to a collaborative response strategy led by the local authorities in Kismayo. 

“Recognising the double impact of COVID-19 and climate change on the resilience of communities, the aim of our targeted support was to mitigate the magnitude of the economic and social consequences faced by the communities as a result of these factors. The cash transfer sought to cushion the poor and the most vulnerable from these extremes,” said Falastin Omar, UN-Habitat Project Manager.

For his part, Steffan Tillander, Sweden’s ambassador to Somalia added: “We are happy to see our support helping people make ends meet, and are happy to work together with the UN, the Jubaland Administration and the local communities to contribute to sustainable development efforts in Kismayo.”

The positive weight of the cash transfers was felt immediately by the community. Amino Gurey whose husband lost his job following the pandemic said that “the USD 70 has helped my family of seven afford basic items such as sugar, cooking oil, rice and vegetables whose prices drastically increased during the pandemic,” thus reducing the extreme vulnerabilities she faced. 

Batulo Haji Maney , 55, noted that due to poor rains, most of her goats perished.  She said, “Because of little rains, my maize crop wilted even before flowering; meaning I will not be able to harvest any maize where I had intercropped with beans, hoping to get some for consumption and the surplus for sale.”