Ilcawo, the Eye of the Night


Somalilandsun – In Ethiopia pastoralist concern supports women groups promoting their sustainable livelihoods, giving them more freedom and opportunities for income generation.

Ilcawo, which means the eyes of the night, a term used by poor women who had so many hardships and difficulties to even meet some of the basic needs like food.

During 1992 when Somali government collapsed and civil war started, thousands of Somalis fled their country through Filtu road, the main route to Ethiopia. They used to travel with trucks arriving in Filtu at night.

These women started earning some money serving tea, spaghetti and other hot foods to all the passengers that stopped near their bonfire during nights, fleeing Somalia through Filtu road after the government collapsed during 1992 civil war.

At the beginning were small amounts of money that allowed them to start small income generating activities but after hearing that poor women could register to get loans, their lives are changing for the better with some even opening shops and sending their children to private colleges.

They work in groups and are free to choose the type of business to invest their loan in. They get advice from the cooperative that gave them the loans and even took some accounting classes and can return a loan and then take another.

Livestock business is one of the businesses they chose to do, a sector dominated by men. Men usually don’t like women competing with them in this sector but this didn’t stop the women as they even participate during livestock market days in the auction sale of animals fearlessly making the men to call them “mad women.”

They work hard day in day out to return the loans and take other ones continuing to improve their lives.

About 2500 women have transformed their lives and the community through this help.

By : Pendo Mwajuma.

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Ilcawo, the eye of the night

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