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|Hargeisa Urban Household Economy Assessment, Pt X|
SOURCES OF FOOD
Typically, there are only two sources of food for urban households: market purchase (as described in the Expenditure section above) and gifts of food (for poorer households). Gifts of food tend to be given by middle and better off households to their poorer neighbours and relatives. Both cooked food and dry food are given, and in some cases this assistance is given daily, particularly to neighbours. These two sources of food, market purchase and gifts, are illustrated in the figure below, expressed in terms of 2,100 calories per person per day.14
The quality of diet improves significantly as households get wealthier. Very poor and poor households can only afford to purchase small quantities of vegetables, meat and milk powder, and the vast majority of their calories come from cereals, sugar and vegetable oil.
Although some middle and better off households own land and livestock in rural areas, these households do not form a majority in either wealth group. Furthermore, those households that do own land or livestock obtain little direct food from rural production, which often serves to feed rural relatives or that portion of the family that is based in rural areas rather than urban.
WFP has started some school feeding programmes in some of the poorest parts of Hargeisa town, but the percentage of the population covered in relation to the town as a whole is quite small. In addition, WFP distributed one month of food aid in December 2002 in Daami (a neighbourhood where minorities are concentrated), but this was a one-off distribution. Food aid is not a regular source of food for any of the wealth groups.
Despite the depreciation of the local currency, the boundary between the poor and middle groups remains the same in shilling terms at SlSh 25,000 per day. In other words, the poor are poorer than they were in 1998 in dollar terms.15 This is significant in a country where most basic food and non-food items are imported. The percentage of households falling into the groups earning less than this amount (very poor and poor) has increased slightly from 25-35% to 30-40%. This is most probably due to the steady influx both of returnees from the Ethiopian refugee camps during the intervening period and of poor households from rural areas who have lost their livestock.
The cut-off point between the middle and better off seems to have increased from SlSh 35,000 (or about US$9) to SlSh 80,000 (or US$12), but the difficulties that were experienced in defining the cut-off point in the current assessment should be borne in mind. In dollar terms, some key informants stated that the cut off is about $10 currently, which is similar to that in 1998. The percentage of households in the `middle' wealth group has remained roughly constant, while that in the `better off' group has decreased.
LINKS WITH RURAL AREAS
As mentioned in the Geography and Population section, it is not typical for any wealth group to farm or keep livestock in rural areas.16 This does not mean that households do not have links with rural areas. All households have relatives in rural areas and it is common for middle and better off urban households to send assistance (in cash or in kind) to their rural kin. It is less common for assistance to move in the other direction. Another type of assistance is for middle and better off urban households to raise a few of the children of rural relatives so that they can attend school in the town. In very hard times, larger numbers of rural people may migrate to the town in search of casual work, as mentioned in the Seasonality section. Some of these may stay with their urban relatives.
There are a number of trade linkages between urban and rural areas. Items that are produced in rural areas (such as livestock, livestock products, vegetables and cereals) make their way through the market system to customers in town. Items that are imported from abroad make the reverse journey, through large traders in town to rural consumers through various middlemen and retailers.
Although urban households are much less affected by seasonal changes than rural households, they are affected by seasonal changes in some ways.
The prices of many items that households purchase vary from season to season. Milk, meat, vegetables and water, for example, are more expensive in the dry season.17 Local cereals (maize and sorghum) are cheapest during threshing time, which takes place between 30-45 days after harvesting, and most expensive just before the harvest. Imported items tend to be more expensive during the monsoon high tide season, when only large boats are able to dock and quantities of imports are therefore reduced. These factors influence the quantities and types of items that households buy, as well as the mix of income-generating activities of households involved in selling such items.
The population of the town changes somewhat over the course of the year, for a number of reasons. There is usually an influx of higher income households from Djibouti and the Somaliland coast into Hargeisa during June - August to escape the intense heat of those months. These outsider households have a positive effect on the economy of the town. In contrast, both dry seasons also usually see an influx of poor rural people in search of casual work. Hargeisa and its surrounding areas have attracted Ethiopian migrants in recent years, many of whom also seek out casual work. Although some remain in Hargeisa for long periods of time, others migrate seasonally, returning to Ethiopia to cultivate (the main planting period is April - May). These rural and Ethiopian migrants act compete with poor local people for various types of low-paying work. The religious calendar also affects urban households, with remittances and gifts larger and more common during Ramadan. Sales of livestock are influenced by the religious calendar, although the effect was more pronounced when Saudi Arabia permitted livestock imports from Somaliland and the Horn.