More than Half of Somaliland’s population is under 18 years old, with the majority born after the overthrow of Siad Barre in 1991- a pivotal era where most of health services came to standstill.
The current generation of young people in Somaliland, therefore, has known health problems and hardships for most of their lives. Health issues have been most demanding in their lives.Humanitarian assistance has typically focused on meeting the survival needs of young children, while the youth population has been overlooked. Yet youth are arguably at the greatest risk in dire health situations in Somaliland.
They are frequently isolated and get minimal access to health care. Youth Vs Health
Stories about health issues became a great alarm among Somaliland youth. Many times you hear about the plight of young girls suffering from Gender Based Violence (GBV)! In Somaliland, particularly Sahil Region, rape is getting momentum which in turn increases the high risks of HIV/AIDS.
“.. People should have a keen eye on the recent changes on our values that we used to hold dear to ourselves…Women are raped every now and then, nobody cares!” Sheik Suleiman, a well-known sheikh in Berbera, told us with low fretfulness voice.
Yet despite of the overwhelming odds, these same young people have often demonstrated enormous resilience to survive. With adequate support, guidance and skills, they can provide the foundation for increasing public awareness on health issues.
Their participation in health issues is of a huge priority and can empower them to be agents of positive change in their society.
…Being generous to Youth!
The generous help from European Commission (EC) through Health Poverty Action (HPA) on a project called Non-State Actors (NSA), has helped the youth in Sahil Region in many ways. HPA gave the youth a platform to get-to-gather and debate about their health-related problems- particularly FGM practices, Child spacing, Sexual Reproductive Rights and HIV/AIDS. In this way, Sahil youth are fast becoming leaders in their distressed society, using youth groups to give voice to the concerns of their generation.
Health Poverty Action has established four girls clubs in Berbera and Sheikh high schools to mobilize school girls to disseminate
knowledge of SGBV, FGM, FP, HIV/AIDS and SRH among themselves. This has gradually increased their public awareness and education about health vices. HPA conducted regular training workshops through participatory-based learning principles. This was aimed to build the capacity of peer educators and provide better understanding of the concepts of skills-based peer-led health education.
Nonetheless, Sahil Girls Clubs are unique in their focus on community mobilization particularly youth. They are promoting greater public awareness about issues such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) and HIV/AIDS. The youth in Sahil are moving forward and becoming leaders in one of the most challenging environments in the world that is in Somaliland.
Sahil Girls Clubs are now equipped with skills and knowledge, as a result of peer-education, to conduct future life-skills for the youth in schools.
The HPA Non State Actor’s project offered capacity support to the trained youth who in turn reached more than 500 youth in various schools. Certain schools have continued to sustain peer education activities. This remarkably supported youth to exchange their views on issues they consider of holding much water for them! It further helped them develop action plan for mass mobilization and awareness-rising among youth.
So then hope is taking on the surface again!