Access to water for livestock and crops has been a challenge for Muhuba Warzame, who lives in the Kardo district of Puntland. The main source of water in the area is deep wells that require generators to pump groundwater to the surface. The cost of fuel and maintenance of these systems is a burden on society and requires money that would otherwise be spent on children’s education, as well as buying food, medicine and other basic necessities.
Thanks to an integrated land and water management project funded by the European Union and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Muhubo and her neighbors have been able to preserve their livelihoods in a region affected by increasingly frequent droughts. and floods. They occur during the rainy season due to poor drainage and lack of good harvesting practices. A project implemented under FAO’s Somalia Water and Land Management Program (SWALIM) built water collection and storage systems in Karda, Puntland, and Shabaal, Somaliland, using clean solar energy. These water bodies have enabled rural farmers and pastoralists to harvest and use seasonal rainwater for their animals and crops, thus contributing to continuous production in the face of ongoing drought. “Thanks to this program, we can pump water using clean solar energy, and the water in the dams is more affordable than from the wells,” Ms Warzameh said at her home in Cardo.
The new Kardo water collection and storage site is just one component of this ambitious project aimed at improving inclusive water management at the community, regional and national levels. As part of the project, the FAO SWALIM team works closely with line ministries to improve their institutional capacity to take over and manage water resources through bottom-up approaches that involve the active participation of local communities. FAO supported the establishment of two Information Management Centers in line ministries in Puntland and Somaliland to support effective and sound land and water management in these two regions.
Currently, these two centers are fully operational and have specially trained staff that produce information and knowledge products on land and water resources. In addition to a number of training courses at the national level, 22 representatives of IMCs and line ministries in Somaliland and Puntland received training on integrated watershed management in Egypt as part of South-South cooperation. In addition to enhancing technical knowledge, the training was also aimed at establishing a longer-term collaboration between the IMCs and the Egyptian Regional Center for Training and Water Research.
Without strong water management institutions, water resources can become scarce in the dry season and dangerous in the rainy season. In Cardo, an urban center with a population of more than 120,000, seasonal heavy rains have always caused severe flooding with widespread impacts across the city. Widespread flash flooding damages infrastructure such as road networks, telecommunications and human settlements, and sometimes leads to population displacement, contamination of water sources, disruption of livelihoods and social services, and loss of life.
“We expect this intervention to have a huge impact in the future because it will help us control floods by ensuring water is stored for future use when our animals and people need it during the dry season,” said Mohamed Mous Mohamed, Director of climate change and environment, Karda, Puntland. He said the project’s efforts complement FAO’s other work on climate change and curbing the recent desert locust threat, which has devastated livelihoods in many regions of the country.
The construction of catchment and water storage systems in Habaal enables communities to irrigate more land and increase agricultural production. “In general, there is a huge water shortage in this area, and I think this intervention is what we need. It gives me hope as a farmer to know that I can water my crops through the irrigation made possible by this initiative,” said Syed Hasan, a farmer from Habaale.
“Climate change poses serious challenges, especially in rural communities where periodic extreme shocks threaten livelihoods. Effective and sustainable management of natural resources is an important first response to solving these problems. This project shows how efficient and effective water management can mitigate shocks, preserve livelihoods, prevent displacement and contribute to improving food security in rural areas,” said Luca Pagliaro, EU Program Manager.
To complement these initiatives, FAO, in collaboration with line ministries, trained communities on climate-smart agriculture and distributed irrigation kits to 4,700 households.
“Significant investment in water management is a practical step in the right direction as rural communities are already facing the challenges of climate change in terms of extreme weather events,” said Hugo Leonardo, FAO Technical Advisor for SWALIM. “With increasing frequency of droughts and floods, rural communities need smarter and greener ways to manage their water resources to protect their livelihoods and improve food security for future generations,” he added.
With new ways to manage scarce and precious water resources in different regions, rural Somalis like Muhubo and Said will be better able to withstand harsh conditions and provide for their families. “With these shelters, we will be able to irrigate our crops during the dry seasons and farmers like me will have a better future,” Saeed said.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the FAO.
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