Somalia Humanitarian Fund transforms children’s lives
In Somalia, primary school enrollment ratio is among world’s lowest. A stunning 70 per cent school-age children are out of school. That is 3 million of 4.4 million children. The numbers are grimmer in rural areas or IDPs settlements, where only 17 per cent of children are enrolled in primary schools. According to the Somalia Education cluster, education gaps and needs are largely a consequence of lack of adequate learning facilities, teachers, basic emergency teaching and learning materials, but also insecurity, lack of food and water and limited sanitation facilities.
In Southwest State of Somalia, a recent assessment  has identified learning spaces, limited teachers support, limited learning kits and community education committees (CEC) structures as the most critical needs, and the biggest challenge as Baidoa faces large waves of internal displacement. While the new arrivals have translated into an increasing number of enrollements in school, this in fact this has put further strain on already weak infrastructures and limited resources available to IDPs and host communities. To address this, the Rural Education and Agriculture Development Organization (READO), with support from the Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF), has been improving access to education for children in four schools in Baidoa through an integrated and innovative approach. The SHF has allocated USD 483,266 to these projects.
Together with the Ministry of Education, READO has identified four community education facilities – Lowilay, Awdinle, Daryel, and Imamu-Malik community schools in Baidoa rural areas. It has trained members of the 34 CECs from the four targeted community education facilities for a period of 2 days, targeting educators’ skills to enable them to effectively participate in school management, while helping them understand their roles and responsibilities, how to mobilize resources for the schools, ways to increase school enrollment and how to involve the community in actively supporting the schools.
READO is not new to this work. Since 2008, the organization has been responding to the multiple shocks facing Somalia, through the implementation of emergency response and resilience building programmes, targeting mainly destitute agro-pastoral, riverine and IDP communities in southern regions with funding from various international partners. The Somalia Humanitarian Fund has been critical in supporting a number of vital activities carried out by READO to address food security needs of IDPs and provide clean water to drought-affected populations.
“We lacked integrated projects focused on crucial community needs, and this was our biggest concern as regional states line ministry,” stated Southwest State Education Minister, Hon Minister Mohamed Abukar. “We appreciate READO and SHF initiatives for this integrated response (…). This project has come the right time to help crisis affected populations in South West State of Somalia”.
READO has distributed learning materials/kits (books, pencils, pens, sharpeners, erasers, geometrical sets, rulers and school bags) to 1,266 children in four community education facilities.It is also providing weekly water trucking (10,000 liters) to four community schools. The water trucking is ongoing and will continue for eight months. Additioanlly, READO has identified suitable sites where to build 13 school latrines in Lowilay, Aawdiinle, and Imamu-Malik Primary school, while providing critical financial support to 10 teachers whle the project is being implemented.
An important part of READO’s work is advocating for the importance of education for children, which has resulted in increased new enrollments in all the rural schools where READO is working. Particular attention is being given to the number of girls enrolling into school. To date, 45 per cent of the population supported were young girls – a big improvement looking at the number of girls now attending rural educational centers.
“Education transforms societies. We are very much indebted to have access to these free services,” said Abdullahi Adan Imaamu Malik, school principal.