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Data-driven resilience programming with communities: Women’s empowerment and food security

Authored by: Program to Enhance Resilience in Somalia (PROGRESS)

Country: Somalia
Region: Africa
Year: 2017

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Executive Summary

The Program to Enhance Resilience in Somalia (PROGRESS) is a USAID-funded effort led by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to strengthen resilience among populations in Somalia. This report discusses activities and findings from qualitative and quantitative engagement efforts made by PROGRESS partners CRS, Benadir University’s Somali Disaster Resilience Institute (BU/SDRI), and the George Washington University’s Institute for Disaster and Fragility Resilience (GW/IDFR). These efforts include ongoing interventions, stakeholder engagement, and qualitative and quantitative data collection.

In the project, local engagement, program intervention, and data collection activities were conducted with community members in Afgooye, Baidoa, and Belet Hawa districts, with a focus on Women, Youth, and Resilience Committees (RCs). The researchers explored associations between women’s empowerment and areas of relevance for PROGRESS resilience programming. From the initial qualitative and pilot quantitative findings, it was evident that women’s empowerment and training were among the key drivers of food security. Regression and structural equation models were constructed with food security as a dependent variable. Independent variables included women’s empowerment and training, among others. As a follow on to the 2016 pilot quantitative study, additional quantitative assessment was carried out in 600 households from 26 villages in the three districts in 2017.

This report builds on previous reports to deepen understanding of coping and adaptation and pathways to strengthen resilience to drought and famine. Coping strategies describe approaches used by households and communities to manage the impacts of a shock/stressor (such as drought) that can have a negative impact on resilience (eroding resilience) or approaches that have no net improvement in resilience). The study differentiated between reactive and proactive coping strategies. Reactive coping strategies (e.g., sale of farming land, breeding stock, draught animals, milking animals, farm implements, and household valuables) may provide short-term relief but have more corrosive effects than proactive strategies (e.g., out-migration to look for food or work, borrowing money or other assets, and receiving humanitarian assistance). In contrast to coping strategies, adaptive strategies are used to manage the impacts of a shock/stressor and improve the long-term vulnerability, health, wealth, and wellbeing of individuals, households, and communities. Findings on women’s empowerment are organized as relational, personal, environmental, and composite (overall) empowerment. Personal empowerment includes self-confidence, economic activity, non-acceptance of gender-based violence (GBV), individual knowledge, individual capacity, and personal autonomy. Relational empowerment includes group participation, household asset control, household decision-making, income control, and time allocation. Environmental empowerment includes experience of GBV, safety of movement, and stereotypes in the community. Structural equation models were constructed to explore associations among women’s empowerment, training, and food security.

The 2017 assessment was conducted during the drought in Somalia, in which 6.7 million people in Somalia experienced acute food insecurity. This report provides a deeper understanding of the real-time effects of and responses and adaptations to the crisis, as well as recommendations for future program development.