(ERGO) – Ahmed Mohamud Barre has enrolled four of his 12 children in primary school for the first time thanks to the boost his business received after the building of a new road connecting his small town in Sanag, northern Somalia.
Profits from his shop live in Baragaha-qol town have increased to $10-13 from about $3 a day since the opening in mid-November of the new tarmac road connecting Dhahar, Sheerbi and Hingalol districts in Puntland.
“This road has really improved the life of my family because it’s fostered the movement of people between the urban and rural areas. Trade is now easier and we get things faster,” he explained.
Ahmed’s children are going to school in Dhahar, 16km away. They stay with their relatives in Dhahar whilst they are at school. He pays $48 for their school fees.
Before the road opened, local transporters charged $6 to move one sack of goods between the three districts. This cost has now reduced to $2 per sack. Customers can also reach Ahmed’s shop easily, even when it rains as the road is good.
“People are now moving between rural and urban areas with ease. We have benefited from the road one hundred percent,” said Ahmed, whose had been struggling with poor turnover and consumable goods even going stale on the shelves.
Now he can raise money to pay rent, food and school fees easily and is working on clearing a $1,200 debt that he took to help them through the drought and hard economic times.
Pastoralists have also benefited from the new road infrastructure, which has put formerly remote towns and village on the map.
Hussein Abdi Isse, a pastoralist who owns 200 goats, transported 10 of his goats by road and sold them off in local livestock markets.
He made $510 from the livestock sales that he’s using to support his family of two wives and 16 children.
Previously, it was hard for pastoralists like Hussein to reach livestock markets in Qardo, Bosaso and Garowe to sell their animals. It would take them two days or more. Now, it takes just hours on the new road.
“Road access has become very easy. During the drought seasons everyone used to worry about using the murram road,” he said.
Hussein has recently become a livestock broker in his local livestock market in Sheerbi, where people now come using the new road to buy and sell animals. On a normal day he sells between 10-15 goats, making $1 from each.
He uses his income to support his family and also provide education for eight of his children, who are studying Somali, Arabic, and maths in a local tuition centre.
Sick and pregnant mothers, who used to dread the rough dirt road if they needed to go to a hospital, are also better served by the infrastructure.
“Patients had to be transported to Qardo and Dhahar. We still use the same route although we have a better road now and we reach there easily, so both the children and mothers survive,” Hussein said.
This 55km road is part of the African Development Bank drought resilience and sustainable livelihoods programme.
The project head, Daahir Abdi Mohamed, said the road aimed at enabling pastoralists to access markets, water and other necessities without travelling for hours. Growth of businesses near the road was also part of the objectives.
“This road was initially aimed at getting the livestock a path for them to travel, but we later decided to expand the road and that came through consultations and people working together. This project is part of a bigger vision to get roads across the country,” he said.
Dahir said the road has proved to be even more beneficial than initially envisioned and they plan to expand it across the region.