The unemployment rate for Somali youth is among the highest in the world with majority of youth actively looking for work. In line with the Federal Government’s priorities articulated in PSG 4 of the Somali Compact, and the Interim Jubbaland Administration’s desire to see their burgeoning youth population productively engaged in the post-conflict reconstruction of their State, the Somalia Stability Fund began six youth Employment-Intensive Works programs in August, 2015. These investments seek to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the demand for the renovation and construction of new critical infrastructure by selecting a construction approach that is more heavily dependent on labor, rather than capital machinery to complete.
In Kismayo, SSF embarked on a pilot project with Dhasheeg Construction and Trading Company (DCTC) to provide short-term employment opportunity for Kismayo’s youth. Dhasheeg selected and trained 200 youth (140 M; 60 F) to rehabilitate a 2.5 km road. This road, one of two major roads in Kismayo, connects the Farjano and Faanooles residents to Kismayo’s main market, hospital and schools. Pot-hole riddled and practically impassable during the rains, the rehabilitation of this road was seen as a crucial task by DCTC’s steering committee, comprised of the IJA Ministry of Public Works, various local government agencies, the Jubbaland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, youth groups and community members.
Today, Dhasheeg has completed the rehabilitation of the 2.5 km gravel road with proper drainage and pavement. 200 youth have been provided with employment and the opportunity to develop skills that are highly valued by Somalia’s booming construction industry. DCTC also provided roads maintenance training to Ministry of Public Works officials and Kismayo District Authority council members to enhance their capacity to maintain the roads and ensure routine repairs are done in a timely manner.
The rehabilitation of the road improved local residents access to economic and social services. In a recent interview with one of the young construction workers, Abdi Mohamed Farah spoke of how this program impacted not only his life, but his family. ‘My daily wages helped pay my family’s bills and also enabled me attend English classes in the afternoon.’ With the completion of the road, Abdi plans to take full advantage of his newly acquired skills and seek employment in the construction sector.
In an interview Muhubo Haji explains how employment of her son Abdi Mohamed Farah has changed her son’s life, ‘I am proud of my son, him working has improved his morale and has had a great impact to our life’. Abdi’s income has helped alleviate Muhubo’s struggle to make ends meet.
The rehabilitation of the feeder road also had an impact on road users. Hassan Guled Ibrahim, is a mini- van owner and driver. He frequently uses the road to transport the general public from the Sinai section of Kismayo to the busy city centre. Before the rehabilitation, he was forced to use other routes because of the poor condition of the road. I used to pay at least 100 USD in repairs and maintenance works on my mini-van, due to the rough nature of the road during rainy season. The road improvement has saved Guled almost 60% on vehicle repair expenses.
The Fund sees the Employment-Intensive Works methodology as an innovative approach to incentivizing participatory engagement in Somalia’s reconstruction. DCTC’s work in Kismayo, where a private sector business is actively engaging government and civil society, offers an opportunity for all Kismayo residents to contribute to the development of the community is an economically productive manner. Another example of this methodology at work in Afmadow and Dhobley can be found here.