Today as we recognize the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, we highlight that the nearly 21 million women, children and men worldwide who are victims of human trafficking for labor and sexual exploitation. In Africa, these numbers are even more staggering with 3.7 million Africans who are victims of exploitation through human trafficking, accounting for 18% of the global total.
The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) plays a role in the fight to free the world of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Through direct investments, USADF partners with African-led projects providing a pathway to improve the lives of victims of crimes like trafficking.
USADF is one of the few U.S. government agencies able to work in Somalia and Somaliland. Our partners, the Somaliland Health and Social Care Organization (SOHASCO), improve the lives of vulnerable youth and internally displaced persons. As a non-governmental organization started by youth from Hargiesa, Somaliland in 2007, they have created vocational training programs, assistance for internally displaced persons, and apprenticeships for people vulnerable to and escaping from forced labor. With a mere $7,038, SOHASCO focuses their intervention in skill development trainings, HIV/AIDS programs, and countering human trafficking projects.
SOHASCO raised awareness of human trafficking through their Information Collection and Awareness Raising on Human Trafficking event, which benefitted 25,000 persons from the Tog Wajaale community. They also started a Promotion of Vocational Tailoring and Carpentry Training Program (PCTCT) which provided tailoring training courses for eight women in the pilot phase. Two of those women were displaced from northern Somalia. Since the training, the women have supported their local community with their new businesses and skills. These benefits extend beyond their personal gains, and provide the local community with the clothing they need. Prior to their USADF grant, SOHASCO had limited capacity to enroll more than those eight women in their courses due to lack of equipment and raw materials for the training session. With USADF funds, SOHASCO was able to expand their capacity to enroll 25 tailoring students and 35 carpentry students, providing vulnerable youth with employable skills. Somaliland serves as a destination and origin for victims of both international and domestic human trafficking. Projects like SOHASCO are fighting to provide these victims, who are mainly women and children, more prosperous lives. By teaching them vocational training skills and raising awareness against human trafficking, SOHASCO empowers victims and provides the necessary skills for prosperity.
USADF partners with similar organizations across the continent, expanding the fight against trafficking in persons. Another project we highlight is in Botswana, where women’s lack of economic power is the driving force to sexual violence, and in many cases the spread of HIV/AIDS. Almost 40% of the adult population between the ages of 15 and 49 suffer from these sexually transmitted diseases. A woman is raped every 12 minutes and reports a case of domestic violence every 5 minutes.
Research sponsored by our partners, Women Against Rape (WAR), has placed a spotlight on the women of Ngamiland in Northwest Botswana. With USADF support, WAR is providing legal support, assistance, and counseling to survivors, and raises awareness of the implications of gender inequalities.
WAR is also doing trainings for women who have suffered from domestic violence, and assisting these women to gain employment, set up income-generating activities, and market their products. The organization’s programing includes assisting and supporting survivors, community and school outreach, and village counselor training. WAR attends approximately 15 court cases per month; holds workshops and awareness campaigns for approximately 300 attendees; establishes a representative in each village throughout Ngamiland who is trained in basic counseling skills, police and hospital procedures and women’s rights; and was instrumental in amending the Rape Law in 1998 to ensure that rape cases are held in private.
Additionally, USADF supported WAR in implementing a hydroponics project which provides service of fresh produce to business and private enterprises. It also gives women an outlet to sell their products and teaches them horticulture skills. Using a nutrient film technique, the women meet the local demand for fresh produce and source businesses, the safari market, the 3 hotels in Maun, lodges on the outskirts of Maun and the 35 tourist camps in the delta, and private consumers. This technique circulates a shallow stream over the roots of growing plants to provide an adequate supply of water, nutrients and oxygen. With this project, women grow tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, eggplant, peppers and more. WAR also used USADF funds to establish a shop to sell both the hydroponics products and the women’s other goods, such as bread, cakes and jam. The women and children who benefit from WAR are able to financially support themselves, identify pests and diseases, treat those diseases, care for their plants to provide optimum growth, learn how plants grow and how to maintain the data, ensure the functioning of the irrigation system and package their products for the best shelf life.
As we work to end the terrible practice of human trafficking around the world, USADF challenges you to support groups like WAR and SOHASCO. In total, USADF supported each of these partner’s success with less than one million dollars. That is impact, and that is a shining example of how working with African-led organizations on African solutions can ensure future sustainable prosperity. USADF remains committed to providing Africans the resources and skills to be part of their own development story in fighting against human trafficking.