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Savings Bring Financial Resilience to Communities in Aden

a group of people wearing face masks

Manar with members of the VSLA in Tahror village- rural Lahj. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

Manar with members of the VSLA in Tahror village- rural Lahj. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

In 2018, Manar Mohsen joined CARE’s team in Aden, Yemen, as Food Security and Livelihoods Field Officer. Since then, she has been actively contributing towards the organization’s efforts to ensure that the most vulnerable Yemeni families are able to have improved access to food in a sustainable manner.

“Through my work, I was increasingly aware of how important it is for the villagers to be empowered to earn an income, to buy what they need and to be able to send their children to school.  With the work we’ve been delivering in the communities introducing marketing skills to small business owners, this empowerment is now made more possible. It helps make the families more self-reliant, ” says Manar.

Under the EuropeAid-funded project Promoting Resilience and Social Cohesion through an Integrated Response to Vulnerable Communities in Yemen, CARE is introducing Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) as part of activities that aim to sustainably increase the resilience of communities Through her previous experience in being involved in VSLAs, Manar has been able to apply her knowledge to support the community members and the trainers and to facilitate the trainings. She will also be monitoring the VSLAs’ progress in the coming months.

VSLAs set up by this project in Tuban and Madribah districts, are a safe way to form a savings group at the community level, where members can collectively save money and access loans through the saving pot. These loans can help members meet their needs in terms of managing their household finances, securing income through small businesses and staying out of debt.

Through her involvement in the two-year Project of Promoting resilience and social cohesion (an integrated response to vulnerable), funded by the European Union and implemented by a consortium led by ACTED and implemented by CARE, Manar sought to increase the percentage of female members in relation to the percentage of male members. Her efforts are driven by her belief in the power of women and she helps them gain self-reliance. The project provides new opportunities that lead to more peaceful relations between husbands, wives and neighbors in the targeted villages.

a group of women sitting on the ground in front of a building
Manar training locals of Abr-Badar village savings in Lahj governorate. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

“I trained over 200 individuals on how to operate VSLAs. The fact that nearly 50 percent of the participants have been female is, in my view, quite an achievement and very encouraging,” she says.

A young girl holding a Signage
Manar holding the VSLA box where locals save money for their future projects. Photo: Bassem Saleh/ CARE

“This box in my hands carries the dreams of many people and I hope when it is opened, many dreams are indeed realized,” says Manar. “Saving money for future businesses is a way for the locals, particularly women, to get out of poverty.”

“Many of the villagers were initially reluctant to participate in the training. However, they soon opened up to the idea after the community leaders, who have been trained by CARE, provided them with more information – and they haven’t looked back since,”  Manar says. “In fact one of the community members told me that, through word of mouth, the idea of establishing VSLAs spread to other villages that have never experienced this concept before. This indicates the success of the VSLA approach,” she adds. “We at CARE and the communities depend on each other to develop ideas and exchange experiences through these VSLA groups. We always communicate to share our ideas to achieve results and further develop.”

At a time when the economic crisis in Yemen continues to deteriorate, such interventions and partnerships have become ever more important. More than 80 percent of Yemenis now live below the poverty line and 40 percent of Yemeni households are estimated to have lost their primary source of income. Having access to saving facilities therefore is a much-needed intervention to help ensure resilience for vulnerable families. Through this project, to date, CARE has been able to set up ten VSLAs, benefiting 219 people including 100 women.

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