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UNV Volunteer Leads WFP Efforts To Build Capacity Of Somali Minorities
This is a 'Food for Training' project where the World Food Programme (WFP), with support from UNV, NGOs and other partners, is providing education in tradable skills. In simple rooms lined with wooden benches, local tutors provide classes in reading, writing and arithmetic, and practical lessons in cooking, sewing and dying cloth.
'This is one of 21 'food for training' and 'food for assets' operations in and around Hargeysa,' says Wilfred Tokpah, a UNV volunteer and the Officer in Charge of WFP's sub-office for Somaliland, the semi-autonomous North Western region of Somalia. 'This programme builds confidence among minorities and enables them to generate an income,' Tokpah says. Large numbers of refugees have poured into the Somaliland region from southern Somalia as a result of continued civil disruption. Due to Somalia's clan-based politics, these displaced people are minorities and, as such, have fewer rights than most locals. They thus become particularly vulnerable to poverty, starvation and exploitation.
WFP Field Monitor Ms. Asha Osman, a native of Somaliland, says the most vulnerable women are provided with sewing machines so they can earn an income. 'They are given food at the end of the month to encourage them to attend the lessons,' she says.
Tokpah explains that many of the women also have children attending lessons nearby under the WFP's 'School Feeding' programme, which is helping to ensure that the children receive a basic education and freeing the mothers to pursue income-generating skills.
Tokpah is one of two international UNV volunteers engaged by the WFP in Somaliland, among 40 staff, mostly locals. Tokpah is responsible for the efficient functioning of 94 operations across Somaliland, including support to orphanages, street children, the disabled and people living with HIV/AIDS. He explained that the food for assets programme is helping to conserve valuable arable soil and to restore roads, dams and farms by providing food in return for conservation work.
His Hargeisa assignment is the first international role for Topkah, a Liberian who worked for the WFP throughout Liberia's 12-year civil war. 'I am really enjoying my assignment in Somalia,' he said. 'I have responsibility for the whole sub-office programme in this area, and I am working with highly motivated local staff and some wonderful UNV volunteers.'
Source: United Nations Volunteers