Drought stress brings women into livestock market jobs in central Somalia


(ERGO) – Farhiya Mohamed Ali, a single mother of four children, quickly picked up the tough negotiating skills needed to broker sales in the livestock market in Abudwaq in central Somalia.

The market has traditionally been a place for men.  However, the drought has turned many things upside down. Since they were displaced by the drought from the rural areas, Farhiya has looked for any work she can do to earn a living.

After some hard bargaining by both sides, Farhiya brokers around four sales of goats in a day.  She takes a commission from both seller and buyer, earning $3-4 a day. She told Radio Ergo this is enough to cover the food and education needs for her children.  Her two oldest children attend a local primary school, where she pays $8 monthly fees for each.

Farhiya migrated from Galladi, on the border of Galgadud and Ethiopia’s Somali region, last December, after losing all her 200 goats in the drought. She has had to adapt to the new way of life and is prepared to do what it takes to support her family.

“I see this as normal work, who said it is set aside for men? For me, I am happy working here and earning a living for my family,” Farhiya told Radio Ergo.

“Everyday people inquire about my work just like you have. They ask me what makes you do this men’s job but I don’t see it that way, they ask us why we have not been able to look for a women’s job…I see their question as belittling, as work is work, there is no difference, we can do whatever men can do.”

Quite a number of drought-displaced women, who used to depend on their own animals, have been turning to similar work. Sixteen women from the IDP camps in Abudwaq have started operating in the last few months as brokers in the livestock market.

Shuriye Ahmed Hassan, one of the male brokers, said women in the livestock markets could soon outnumber the men.  Besides the brokers, there are other women buying animals to sell for meat in retail stalls. There are also some women bring livestock in from the rural outskirts to sell.

Livestock markets are doing more business now that the animals have recovered somewhat from seasonal deyr rain in parts of the country at the end of last year.

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