Drop the gun, pick up the coffee

 

Libah-Har village stands alone in the desert, speckled with tiny huts made from sticks, mud and plant fibre. Goats, camels and sheep graze on dry, brown grass. Life in Libah-Har is confined and entirely dependent on livestock. It does not have a secondary school, healthcare center and other basic human needs to educate nor heal its more than 500 residents. Resources are scarce and conflict over land, water and charcoal continues to destabilize the entire region. 

Over 60% of Libah-Har’s population are youths desperate for education and opportunity. Unemployed youths affected by the protracted violent conflict often fall into a life of crime, and those that don’t get involved in crime stay hopeless at home. 

Abdiweli was armed as a child. After finishing primary school he turned to crime, working as a foot soldier at illegal checkpoints in Qardho district, northeast Puntland. Recognising an urgent need to give disconnected Somali youth economic opportunities, just over 1,000 youth were engaged through local partner. Of these, more than 800 have received vocational training, with the top performing students receiving small grants to start micro-enterprises and a further 400 participating in an internship programme with small businesses in Puntland.

Abdiweli was one of the recipients, he was offered a grant to start a coffee and confectionary shop. Over 60 people buy coffee from his shop each evening. He is now focused on making his business a success, where he has now enrolled in school to learn business management skills.  With the youth unemployment rate in Somalia amongst the highest in the world, what the youth here lack are investment, resources and opportunity. As Abdiweli proves, an investment targeting youths can go a long way in supporting peace and stability in Somalia. 

The Stability Fund, working with CESVI, appreciates the opportunity given by the residents of Libah-Har to work with the youth in the local area to create jobs and businesses. The initiative was recently extended to support additional follow-up activities to help translate skills development into real employment.