Eight-year-old Fatima breaks rocks to help her drought-displaced family in southern SomaliaPhoto | Fatima Daud, 8, hard at work breaking rocks in a Baidoa IDP camp/Muxyadiin Xusni/Ergo
(ERGO) - Fatima Daud Ibrahim, eight, takes turns with her mother to smash rocks with the hammer into gravel. It is tiring and often painful work but for the past two months it has enabled Fidey Ali Hassan to buy food to cook for Fatima and her other five children.
Fidey, 50, a widow from a pastoralist community in Barbare village in Qansadhere, moved to Baidoa in the southern Somali Bay region three months ago after losing her livestock in the drought. She settled in 11 January IDP camp in Baidoa and had to find a way of making ends meet.
“This is a difficult job and your hands often get injured doing the work. It requires so much physical strength and endurance,” Fidey told Radio Ergo’s reporter, as she passed some more rocks to her daughter to smash.
They are sitting in an open area in the camp with 30 other people doing the same work. The gravel is sold for use in building.
When a construction lorry came to the camp this week, Fidey sold the gravel she had prepared for 85,000 Somali shillings ($3.6). The truck bought up gravel worth 600,000 Somali shilling from different people in the camp. Each bucket of gravel sells for 3,000 Somali shillings.
Without any relatives in Baidoa to help her, Fidey says she prefers manual work to begging food from other people in the camp. She is happy that with the money she makes she can at least afford three meals for the children.
The large rocks are brought from a quarry on the outskirts of town. Some people bring them on donkey carts to the camp, but Fidey has to ask some youth to help her carry them as it is a 30 minute walk away and she cannot manage alone.
As for Fatima, she has never had the opportunity to go to school, and nor have her siblings.
Demand for gravel, meanwhile, has gone up in the rainy season, as people use it to lay rainwater catchments and to put up flood barriers, as well as for regular construction activities.
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