Abdifatah Mohamed Hussein, a construction worker in Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region, has been out of work for two months because the supply of building stones has been cut off by conflict in the area.
His family of 11 children have had to fall back on handouts from relatives and their life has become precarious.
“Our lives are falling apart. Sometimes we get food and sometimes we don’t. I have to call my friends and relatives just to get something for my family,” Abdifatah said.
Relatives working in Saudi Arabia sent him $30 to keep paying the electricity and to buy water.
Abdifatah was earning 260,000 shillings a day ($9) on building sites. His income fed the family and paid fees for two children in secondary school. He has asked the school to allow them to stay in class despite his lapse in payment.
His job was good enough to put his eldest daughter through nursing school at Banadir university in 2021, although she is yet to find work. He even managed to buy a three-room house from his savings.
He is at a loss now and wonders about opening a small stall, although he lacks the finances to start off.
“My biggest hope is to get to the market to start a business. If this door closes, I have to make another door open, even if I will be hawking bananas and mangoes, so I can continue to support my children,” he said.
Construction stones came from an area of Jowhar under Al-Shabab control, 50 kilometres away, using a supply route that the militia closed off in October. Many living off building site jobs have been affected.
Abdikadir Isse Aweys, a father of two, was earning 130,000 shilling ($4.5), enough to afford two meals a day for the family. They are now down to just one meal and had to move in with relatives in Jowhar as he could not pay the $40 rent for his two-room house.
“Our work was dependent on stones being available, now we are not seeing any. The trucks transporting them are not moving now, and just like that we have become jobless!” Abdikadir exclaimed.
Mohamed Omar Mohamed, whose elderly mother depends on him, said they have been thrown into uncertainty.
“Unemployment has hit us. I don’t know any other skills than building. Maybe I can get work at a garage or somewhere just to earn a little income,” he said.
Source: Radio Ergo