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Self-reliant communities

Since 2012, we have worked with UNHCR and the Ethiopian authorities to help refugee and host families in Ethiopia’s remote Somali region become more independent after suffering from civil war and years of droughts.

We have funded a wide range of projects—from improving livelihoods and education to creating access to renewable energy—all of which are helping families move away from aid and toward self-reliance.

The programme has built irrigation canals to cultivate 1,000 hectares near Dollo Ado’s refugee camps. Now local families and families who fled Somalia are working the land together to grow their incomes through farming. The farmers’ products are sold in markets across the country.

© UNHCR/Walter Kigali

My wish is to be the first female President of Somalia.

Iqra, student

Not only are families becoming self-reliant, but they are also supporting and understanding each other better, no matter whether they are a refugee or part of the host community.They have formed agricultural and energy co-ops together and are finding new ways to support their entire community.

Since their families are earning a better income, more children—especially girls—are staying in school and getting a better education while they’re there, thanks to the programme. Some, such as Iqra Bedel Hassan, are even going to university. “I am the first one who is going to join university from my family,” she says. “I want to learn management to solve the continuing problems in my country.

“And my wish is to be the first female President of Somalia.”

We’re now investing more in the programme, so we can create a model for other governments and organisations to adopt. In turn, they can help their communities become more integrated, self-reliant and cohesive.