Monthly Archives: March 2018

Pressing for progress in Hargeisa

Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) joined the world in marking the International Women’s Day on March 8. The event was held at the Peaceful Coexistence Center in Hargeisa, Somaliland. 154 people participated in the event, ranging from Somali returnees, refugees from Yemen, Ethiopia and Eritrea, as well as members of the host community. Government officials from National Displacement & Refugee Agency (ND&RA), the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, UNHCR staff and partners and refugee committees also attended the event.

The theme this year is ‘Time is now: Rural and Urban Activists transforming Women’s Lives’. During the event, Fartum Abdalla, a Somali returnee spoke about the role AAH-I has played in transforming her life. Looking at her bright smile and resolve in her walk, it is hard to imagine what she has had to go through. “I was completely broken and in despair when I fled Yemen in 2015 with my seven children. We arrived at the Berbera Reception center with hardly any clothes on our backs, but counted ourselves lucky to be alive. For two years we lived in hard conditions without support until I heard about the business grants offered by AAH-I. I attended an entrepreneurship training run by AAH-I in June 2017, after which I applied for and qualified to get a group business grant worth $5,000 with 3 other women. We opened a cosmetic shop and are now making a profit of about $300 per month, which is enough to meet our daily needs.”

“The grants we are providing through AAH-I are a form of cash-based interventions to provide positive coping mechanisms for those in need. UNHCR is committed to always being there as long as conflicts are affecting livelihoods,” said UNHCR Associate Eligibility Officer Vanessa Bordin during the event.

“We would not be able to support women like Fartum without the support of our funding and implementing partners. We are grateful for the support of UNHCR and the government of Somaliland who enable us to reach the vulnerable members of our community,” said AAH-I Hargeisa Project Manager Dr. Tharcisse Mulindwa. ND&RA Director Abdi Ali echoed his comments as he thanked AAH-I and UNHCR, and encouraged the women to empower themselves and continue their hard work and commitment.

“We have been always at the forefront in ensuring that women acquire appropriate skills which are essential to sustainably improve their livelihoods. At least 402 women were equipped with various vocational skills, languages and basic computer courses in 2017. This was done under the Self Reliance and Improved Livelihoods project that supports refugees, asylum seekers, returnees and members of the host community,” said AAH-I Project Field Assistant Sowsan Abdilahi in her remarks.

Ethiopian Refugee Community Leader Imana Hailu, Yemen Refugee Community Leader Mohamed Salim Hussein and Refugee Returnee Community Leader Luul Ahmed Omer spoke at the event and highlighted how the lives of many of the people they represent have been positively changed.

Facilitating Learning

40 youth from Narok County participating in training on entrepreneurship and life skills under Action Africa Help Kenya’s programme visited a farm shop (selling animal drugs, animal feed, etc) and a poultry farm in Kiambu County. The visits took place on 2 March 2018. The aim of the visits for the 38 male and 2 female is to give the youth an opportunity to interact with real-life work place examples of successful businesses they could learn from.

“The benefits of exposure visits like these are great for knowledge transfer and for facilitating learning. We are happy to show these young people the ropes in running a business,” said Salome while addressing the youth from her farm shop. Salome runs the business with the help of Paul Gachie who owns the franchise in addition to being a youth entrepreneurship mentor. Paul is also the founder of  Jirani Mwema Sacco that encourages group savings. On 1 March 2018, the youth from Narok spent time at the Jirani Mwema Sacco. “I use my background in microfinance to broaden the outlook of these young people. This is what inspires me,” said Paul.


Paul also highlighted the importance of understanding the different stakeholders as they have a direct impact on one’s business. It is important to understand and be able to manage them. “My advice to the youth is to learn together and explore business opportunities”. “One of the advantages that the younger generation has is the access to technology. Like access to information and services on mobile ( MPESA for example) that we didn’t have back then.”

Getting personal advice from Paul (centre) and Salome (second right)


David gets insights from Lilian (left), who works with Salome and Paul at the farm shop 


The trainees have various business interests in agrovet, livestock trading, grocery and boda boda operations (motorcycle taxis commonly found in East Africa). Action Africa Help International will continue to work with the youths to strengthen their skills in enterprise practices.


“Running a business anywhere in the world requires application of basic business principles. I believe that passion is a key asset in entrepreneurship. There were several challenges to overcome and many reasons to give up when starting a business. But I am passionate about this, and this is what has helped me to succeed and make a decent profit,” said Nelly as she tended to her poultry.

Nelly checking the day’s egg collection


Among the youth, some like Solomon Ketuta already had a natural entrepreneurial ability. Salomon is a proud owner of a phone charger and chicken livestock business. He noticed that the demand had no supply as most people had to travel long distances in order to buy phone chargers. Solomon saw an opportunity and seized it. Today, he wishes to increase his income by opening a tailoring shop for school uniforms.


Just like other youths present, Solomon was able to fully grasp the training’s objective: “The key to a successful business is a proper market research, passion, enthusiasm”.


According to the UN Capital Development Fund the majority of the world’s youth live and work in rural areas where they face obstacles to engage in productive activities. The younger generation of entrepreneurs often face challenges when setting up and developing their business due to the lack of access to capital, start-up funding, business development services and limited knowledge.


One of the goals of Action Africa Help International is to support livelihood challenged communities through empowerment and promotion of entrepreneurial competencies among the youth. This exposure trip was one of the activities under the ‘Mara Community Livelihoods Improvement’ project, funded by Bread for the World. The project is working with youths from Naikkara and Siana wards in  Narok West sub-county, Narok County.

AAH-I joins efforts to contain cholera outbreak in Uganda

Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) team in Uganda met with the UNHCR Director for Africa Bureau Velentin Tapshoba when he visited Kyangwali Refugee Settlement on 24 and 25 February 2018. He was accompanied by the UNHCR Uganda Country Representative Bornwell Kantande. Programme Director Basilio Okello, Kyangwali Programme Manager David Musaazi and Health Coordinator for Kyangwali Dr. Caroline Nalugwa joined the mission as the technical team from AAH-I.

AAH Uganda is the lead implementing partner of UNHCR, implementing projects in health, water, sanitation and hygiene, environment management, sustainable livelihoods and protection services.

Mr Tapshoba and Mr Kantande were on a mission to assess the situation in Kyangwali Settlement, which is currently experiencing an outbreak of cholera, with a crude fatality rate of 3.3%. Data from UNHCR indicates that escalating violence over land and fishing grounds in the north-eastern province of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of Congo has resulted in at least 42,000 refugees crossing into Uganda. This high refugee influx means that refugees are staying longer at the landing site which lacks latrines and adequate water supply. Kyangwali already had an old caseload of 35,791 refugees. A deadly cholera outbreak has hit these Congolese refugees – 1,000 cases have been reported and 29 confirmed dead.

Refugees fleeing conflict in DRC. Photo courtesy UNHCR

“To manage sanitation, we have built 75 temporary communal latrines and bath shelters. We continue to provide health care in 4 health centres and provide water trucking services. Our team has been joined by Medecins Sans Frontieres and Medical Teams International. Officials from Uganda Ministry of Health and World Health Organization are also on the ground. With these concerted efforts it is expected that the disease will soon be contained,” said David.

L to R: Basilio, Mr Kantande and Mr Tapshoba

“We appreciate the good work AAH-I is doing as a Lead Partner in Kyangwali in responding to the emergency. Their medical and WASH teams are working hard and this effort is commendable,” said Mr. Tapshoba and Mr. Kantande appreciated.

“We are committed to strengthening AAH-I’s representation and leading in the provision of health services in Kyangwali,” said Basilio when introducing Dr. Caroline Nalugwa as the new AAH-I Health Coordinator for Kyangwali.

AAH Uganda began operations in 1993, providing humanitarian assistance to more than 80,000 South Sudan refugees in the West Nile, and gradually evolved into a comprehensive multi-sectoral programme, benefiting multi-national refugees from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.

Youth in Mara benefit from entrepreneurship training

40 youth aged (38 male and 2 female) between 17 and 34 attended a three-day training on business skills. The event took place from 6 to 8 February 2018 at the Olderkesi African Gospel Church.

“The objective of the training was to equip youth with skills to help them run their businesses effectively and make a livelihood. The project’s goal of achieving 20% increase of income for 50% of 100 youth in Mara complements the target of reducing the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training of Sustainable Development Goal number 8,” says Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) Training Officer Eric Wakoli.

AAH Kenya
Taking time to put their business ideas on paper

The training covered modules on:

  • Generating, identifying and selecting business ideas (for the Mara area)
  • Exploring linkages between an entrepreneur and all the resources and services needed to successfully launch and sustain a small enterprise
  • Hands-on practical in preparing a business plan, tailored to each individual entrepreneurial needs
  • Understanding costing, pricing, record keeping and cash flow, savings and marketing concepts in a small business
  • Understanding how to increase business profits through diversification, tapping on new opportunities and reducing wastage and expenditures.

26-year-old Pirendu Kelele attended the training. “I have enjoyed and learnt a lot in these three days. I notice there are many motorbikes but hardly any service centres in Olderkesi. I want to open a shop to sell spares and repair motorbikes.”

For 20-year-old Josephine Mako, this is the second time she is attending a business training facilitated by AAH-I. “In the first training in 2016 which was delivered though digital phones, I learnt how to develop a business idea and to maximize profits. I used these lessons at my mother’s shop. I introduced new products – potatoes and cabbages. Our profit margins are improving. This time I have increased my skills in marketing strategies, which I want to use to open a poultry business. The younger Maasai generation eats eggs and chicken and few people rear them. I think I already have a ready market.”

Co-facilitator Nkaisery Willy explaining the importance of having a business plan


According to Project Officer Caroline Jepchumba, there is still a major need for entrepreneurship training for youth in Mara. “Most of them have limited formal education due to cultural issues such as early marriages and low prioritization of formal education. Due to their mobility in search of pasture we are closely following up and providing mentorship in their business journey. We plan to include use of plays and sounds and words training aids Maa language in future trainings.”

This training is under the Kenya programme of Action Africa Help International ‘Mara Community Livelihoods Improvement Project’, funded by Bread for the World. It targets Leshuta, Naikkara, Olderkesi, Osarara and Esoit sub-locations in Naikkara ward, Narok West sub-county, Narok County.

Fleeing conflict in Somalia and in Yemen: Muna Mohamed’s story

37-year-old Muna Mohamed Muse proudly attends to customers coming to her grocery store in Hargeisa, Somaliland. The cabbages, onions, tomatoes, carrots and lemons, fabric and confectionery she has spread out at her shop are sourced from the Borama region and some of the vegetables from Ethiopia.


AAH Somalia livelihoods
Muna unloading tomatoes at the shop


Muna, married with seven children, is a Somali Returnee. She fled Somaliland in 2007 during the conflict in her home country and lived in Yemen until 2015. “It feels like my family is always running away from conflict,” says Muna who left Yemen when the conflict broke out in that country as well. Her family left Aden and came by ship through the port of Berbera and spent their first night at Geedi Hotel in Hargeisa.

“I had a successful sweet and bakery business in Yemen. We were able to make some profit and make some good income. Settling down in Hargeisa was difficult as I had been away for 8 years.”


Muna unpacking new stock fabric

Through UNHCR, Muna heard about support from Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) for potential business owners. She applied to receive a grant and received USD $1,320. She used this money as capital for the grocery shop that she has now set up in Hargeisa. Muna received the grant after a 3-day entrepreneurship training conducted by AAH-I, with support from UNHCR, held at Peaceful Coexistence Center in February 2017.

“I am happy that I can now support myself and my family. I am earning an average of USD $300 per month, and saving about USD $3 every day. This comfortably covers our rent, electricity and daily expenses,” says Muna.

According to data from UNHCR, 21.3 million of these displaced people are refugees, 29% of them hosted in Africa. The majority of people fleeing the crisis in Yemen have settled in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.

Muna showcases the benefits of this type of grants for refugees and returnees – building credit-worthiness, the creation of employment for fellow refugees and host community members and the stimulation of the local economy through expansion and diversification of businesses. For those refugees with entrepreneurial experience or talent, small business loans are one way of getting them integrated back into normal life.