Somalia: Families in Baidoa go Hungry as Coronavirus Shrinks Labour Market

Baidoa families go hungry as Coronavirus shrinks labour market

Somalilandsun: Mohamed Abdi Ibrahim, a 37-year-old father of five, has been evicted from three different homes in Baidoa in the past few months for failing to make rent payments on time.

Like many casual labourers in this town in southern Somalia’s South West state, Mohamed has been unable to find work since the Coronavirus pandemic hit bringing with it a raft of restrictions and shutdowns, reports Radio Ergo

“Construction is the only work I’ve known and it was enough to cover our needs, including the school and madrasa fees for the children,” he told Radio Ergo. “I have never seen a worse situation in the 10 years I’ve worked in this job.”

He has not given up looking for work, but the stress is getting to him as he worries about being able to support his family.

“I still wake up early in the morning hoping that I’ll find work, it’s really depressing when you come prepared for work but there is no work for you”.

Abdirahman Ma’alin Abdi, a father of nine, is another construction worker. He used to make the equivalent of about $15 dollars a day, enough to cover the three daily meals and other things his family needed.

“I never imagined that we would not be able to afford food, that we would be lining up for food cards from humanitarian agencies!” Abdirahman exclaimed.

Women, who make up the bulk of Baidoa’s casual labour force, have been especially affected by the shrinking of the wage market.

Anbiya Abdi Isaq has worked as a stone cutter for the past six years, breaking big stones into small pieces for road and building works. She told Radio Ergo that both she and her husband, also a casual worker, have become idle and cannot provide for their children.

“Our children have been sleeping on empty stomachs since this dreaded disease came, we constantly worry about finding enough food for them,” she said.

Habibo Isaq Adan, who heads a household of seven, including her elderly mother, used to get laundry work three days a week earning five to eight dollars. But the work and the income have dried up.

“I was a strong woman, but that’s no longer the case. These days I’ve lost weight and my children are skeletal because we don’t have enough to eat,” she said.