Cash transfer drive by Ireland and EU helped save 617,000 lives in Somalia

Cash payments have helped save the lives of over 617,000 people in areas of Somalia devastated by hunger and conflict – thanks to ground breaking work by an Irish humanitarian organisation.

Concern Worldwide distributed €23 million provided by the European Union to 617,309 people between January 2022 and the end of March 2024.

This cash transfer relief work was focussed in areas most at risk of famine in southern Somalia. They include the impoverished Baidoa District where there are camps for some of the 3.8 million people internally displaced from their homes by a combination of climate events, like droughts, and armed conflicts.

“Children are alive today because of this incredible aid effort,” said Alessandro Bini, Concern’s Somalia Cash Consortium Director.

“When we reached the Baidoa area and saw the urgency of this crisis, we had to act fast.

“Our mission was simple: to provide cash to those in greatest need who had nothing. With this cash, families could buy things like flour and rice at local markets to help them survive.”

Concern paid the cash as e-currency directly to people’s mobile phones, as they can access and use this currency anywhere in Somalia and purchase essential products at local markets.

A mother of seven children who benefitted from Concern’s cash transfer work said it saved the life of her daughter, who was suffering from malnutrition.

“The drought destroyed our income. We could not have reached Baidoa without the support of relatives,” said Aqila*, who lives in a small patchwork tent of cloth tied together over a tree branch frame.

“My daughter is now eating well, sleeping well, and has started standing up.

“Now, we afford three meals in a day. The cash has helped my family in the most trying times.”

Aqila received €120 over three months, which she used to buy vegetables, rice, sugar, wheat flour and cooking oil. She also bought beds and mattresses to improve their living conditions.

It was even enough for Aqila to open a small shop selling basic items like sweets, biscuits, sugar, and milk so that she can have a more regular income.

Aqila is one of hundreds of thousands of Somalians displaced by drought over the last two years and many have also had to flee due to flash flooding.

“The people of rural Somalia are heavily dependent on farming and livestock for survival. They are suffering from the increased frequency of extreme weather events,” said Alessandro Bini.

“For those surviving drought, the cruel relief is flash flooding, washing away the meagre assets of people already on the brink. Conflict is also an added problem. They need our help.”

Cash has been provided to families in Somalia by aid organisations since a devastating famine that struck the country in 2011.

The Somalia Cash Consortium, led by Concern in co-ordination with other aid agencies and funded by the EU, was formed in January 2018.

Concern hopes to continue with a new phase of cash transfers to people most in need in Somalia and is referring people who benefit from it to longer term development programmes that will further improve their lives.

The Somalia Cash Consortium partners under Concern Worldwide leadership are: Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI), the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Save the Children International (SCI).


For more information or interview requests please contact Kevin Jenkinson at

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