As a response to COVID-19 pandemic prevention and containment, SODEN in partnership with ABILIS Foundation – Finland, implemented a two month period Emergency Food Distribution Project to People With Disabilities’ (PWDs) Households in IDP camps of Mogadishu, Somalia who are mostly at risk due to ongoing lockdown.
The intervention was undertaken between April – May 2020 by SODEN through a consultative and participatory established work plan of delivering emergency health awareness against COVID-19 to PWDs through appropriate messages and good hygiene practices and food distribution support.
The project’s main activities included, Food distribution, Advocacy and awareness-raising, and Capacity building of PWDs and DPOs. During the intervention, SODEN distributed food and hygiene kits to over 80 Households located in IDP camps within Mogadishu. Our team facilitated the process of every home of the targeted beneficiaries to avoid public gathering and practicing social distancing.
Being aware to the fact that, PWDs among other vulnerable groups have a barrier to access to information as they are often excluded from decision-making spaces and have unequal access to information on outbreaks and availability of services as they are socially and economically isolated, SODEN also carried out media awareness-raising campaigns on COVID – 19 risks and Prevention measures where a total of 3 radio stations and 2 television stations were used to air developed 2D animation awareness messages to over 15 million population across Somalia.
The project was designed in such a way to ensure that PLWDs have access to information, the physical environment, and other personal accessibility. These were realized by ensuring that everyone with/out disability participated fully in every planned intervention. SODEN also ensured that project venues had accessibility for physically disabling participants. We also hired a sign language interpreter during the project interventions.
Gender equality was prioritized in our project activity as it is intrinsically linked to sustainable development and is vital to the realization of human rights for all. We, therefore, ensured that the number of men and women who participated in the project was gender-balanced. The participants included persons with physical disabilities, deaf persons, persons with partial hearing loss, blind persons, persons with visual disabilities, persons with mental disabilities, persons with intellectual disabilities, deaf blind persons, women with disabilities, youth with disabilities, Children (under 18 years of age) with disabilities and parents and children with disabilities.
During the project intervention, SODEN collaborated and worked with other actors and stakeholders such as Ministry of Health of Federal government of Somalia, Ministry of Human Rights and women of the federal government of Somalia, Pan of African Human Rights Defenders Network, Disabled People International (DPI) and Community Elders towards raising advocacy to eliminate disability stigma in various communities.
In the long-term, its SODEN’s wish to empower PWDs through capacity building pieces of training and initiation of income generation activities to socially and economically make them independent and self-reliance in respect to livelihood and opportunities and being able to defend for themselves from risks posed pandemics such as COVID-19 and other shocks.
From the project intervention, we observed that there is a need for continuous assistance and support to PLWDs more so during COVID-19 pandemic like now as most if not all have no access to food and health services.
In conclusion, we continue to appeal to partners to come forward with any available kind of support for the PLWDs and other vulnerable groups across Somalia at this hard economic time.