Current Events

Unintended Consequences of Reduced Mortality Rates

As the security situation in Somalia improves, certain occupations are now facing hard times.

He became a gravedigger at the height of the civil war, when he used to dig at least 30 graves a day. “I became a gravedigger in 1991, when burying dead bodies was the best business in Somalia.”

People who want to bury their deceased family members ring his cell phone to ask him to dig graves for them. He listens religiously to the cacophony coming from downtown Mogadishu for the sound of loud bangs or continuous rounds of fire.

“When there is a loud bang, we know it is an explosion. When there is a sustained gunfire, we know something is wrong and people may die. Deaths mean there will be business for us.”

However, with gun battles falling in Mogadishu these days, the number of people brought to the cemetery for burial has almost fallen markedly.

“Two years ago I used to bury 30 bodies a day, now I bury one if I’m lucky and often I bury none.”

The father of four is struggling to put food on the table for his young family. His children have been forced to drop out of school because he can’t afford to pay their school fees. He is struggling to provide one meal a day.

It goes without saying that peace trumps employment of war-related professions; nevertheless, for workers without skills in other areas, the newfound peace does create economic hardships.

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