Village and Saving Loans Association Changing the Narrative of Rural Women in Somaliland

Traditionally, most Somali women stayed at home taking care of their families, with the husband as the sole breadwinner. However, this narrative is changing with the introduction of Village Saving and Loan Associations (VSLAs), where women are encouraged to save and learn new ways of generating an income.

“As most women do, my husband struggled alone to bring money for our daily use. I was at home taking care of the children with the little that he brought home,” recalls Zeyanab.

The 52-year-old mother of 5 boys and 6 girls would do what everyone else in the community did.

“As women in the community, this is what we saw happening and we spent time at home, at times we would visit each other in the homes doing nothing.”

When ADRA through SomReP approached Waqderi village South West of Lasanod district for the women to come together and establish groups to promote a saving culture among the community, Zaynab and the women who heard about it were pessimistic about the whole idea.

“At first we were all sceptical about the whole process. It was something new to us and we were not ready for it. We opposed it without listening how we could benefit from it,” she states.

“The team patiently explained to us what the whole system was about.”
The more they learnt about it, the more they saw how beneficial it was to them

“We were given training about the whole system, how it is formed, how it works and we were convinced of its benefit to us as women and the society as a whole,” she declares.

Tawakal group was then formed. This is one of the two groups in Waqdari village that consists of 25 members where they save and give out loans to facilitate income-generating activities. The Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) is a simple program of saving, borrowing and lending of money between established groups in the communities. The system is designed in a very simple way that even illiterate members of the community can easily understand how it works.

“We conduct regular meetings once a month and each person saves a specified amount of share, together with a small amount of money called social fund.”

The savings we share at the end of a cycle while the social fund we use it for emergency needs that arise from the community. We also get loans, once your proposal of what you intend to do with the money is approved by the leadership.”

ADRA under SOMREP program, have implemented SDC project in Waqdari village, in Lasanod, Somaliland. The project had a VSLA component in it, whereby various groups were established to promote a saving culture among the community.

As a farmer, Zaynab saw an opportunity to help her husband so that they could have more yields.

“I have taken a loan twice with the group. The first loan, I bought fuel to irrigate the farm and the second loan I bought manure. My husband was very happy,” she says.

“The project has made us realise that as women we can reach to greater heights. From the farm, we now have enough food to cater for our family,” she observes.

Story by: Fahad Abdinor Mohamed.
Project Officer, Lascanod