Saynab Mohamed Ahmed, 50, had been a businesswoman for 30 years in Hargeisa selling fresh vegetables and produce at a roadside table, but she is now sitting at home due to the impact of insecurity affecting goods and sales.

With no income she is now faced with food shortage and lack of proper shelter after being evicted from her two-room house on 20 January for defaulting on the $100 rent.

She and her family of 10 people squeeze inside a small hut owned by their relatives. Her eldest son earns their living but can only get them a meal a day.

“My son goes to the market. We eat whatever she can get once a day. He sells thrift clothes, some days he makes some money and sometime nothing,” Saynab said.

She is among hundreds of small businesspeople put out of work as the Lasanod to Hargeisa road has been abandoned by travellers due to uncertainty over the security. Since last year the supply of fresh produce from Somalia’s southern breadbasket regions has been unable to reach and availability of food produced locally in Somaliland is both limited and expensive.

She had debts of $400, including money she owes for supplies she bought locally that customers wouldn’t buy due to the high process.

“I closed down my business when I couldn’t get any income. I couldn’t get loans to continue and everything got expensive. The business ran down as inflation rates were rising and now I sit at home,” she said.

She used to make $300 a month from her shop, enough to pay rent and for education for her children.

After the school learnt of her misfortunes in business, they allowed four of her children to continue with their education, while her relatives pay fees for two children. She is happy to have kept all her children in school.

Hinda Adan Awil, 23, had a mobile cart selling vegetables that she had to close due to the lack of produce coming in because of the closure of road transport from the south.

She took up cleaning jobs so that she could continue supporting her five siblings and diabetic father.

“I earn $80 a month. I can’t fully cover the rent and children’s school fees. But we are still living, we use whatever I can get,” she said. Two of her siblings’ fees cost $18 and their single room house rent is $50.

In 2022, Hinda lost the stall she ran in the destructive Waheen market fire that caused huge damage. Her stall there was valued at $500. The mobile cart was her next endeavour but insecurity has defeated her again.

“Although I would like to resume my business, it is not possible, we just depend on God,” she said.

The head of Idan market association, Abdifatah Ahmed Muhumed, representing vegetable traders, 2,400 vegetable traders, said some had been buying expensive produce from Ethiopia.

He complained that the fire, the recent insecurity and its consequences, and rising prices had led to disruption of many small businesses. He said they had been trying to reach out to the government about the cuts in supply of fresh produce to Somaliland.