Article

Reducing food insecurity and establishing resilient food production systems in Somalia and Somaliland

Throughout Somalia and Somaliland, agriculture provides a living and helps meeting food needs through crop sales and agricultural labor. Below-average rains, periodic flooding, a recent desert locust —a sort of insect— invasion, an economic downturn, and the COVID-19 pandemic have severely impacted conventional farming methods.

Thanks to the funds provided by the French Embassy in Kenya, the Consortium Français pour les Urgences (COFRAU) partners consisting of ACTED, Action Contre la Faim (ACF), and Secours Islamique France (SIF) provided community workshop trainings on permaculture gardening and agricultural inputs in Awdal, Somaliland, Bakool, Lower Juba regions, Somalia.

Coping with recurrent shocks and food insecurity

The Awdal region is one of Somaliland’s most important rain-fed agricultural zones. However, every year, ten tons of fertile soil are lost per acre due to wind and water erosion in the region, causing fewer job possibilities and less agricultural production.

The devastation of farms and pastures by desert locusts since early 2020 wiped away crops and pastures in the Bakool region of Somalia, affecting the livelihood and food security of families in the Hudur district. Locusts hampered seed sowing and germination. Families that rely on agricultural work to earn a living have seen a considerable decrease in income, which resulted in higher debt levels. In addition to that, Kismayo, Lower Juba region of Somalia, has been experiencing recurrent floods in the whole Juba River. Floods reduce the fertility of the soil, as the flowing water on the surface of the land sweeps away the topsoil, which contains valuable nutrients. In this case, it becomes more difficult to cultivate lands, which contributes to food insecurity.

The recurrent shocks affecting the communities cited above have resulted in depleting assets. This means that many people no longer possess enough money to buy agricultural inputs, which would allow them to work and sustain their lives and families.

Assisting Somali and Somaliland families in establishing food production systems

To address rising food insecurity and establish resilient food production systems in the regions cited above, ACTED and SIF conducted three-day training workshops on perma gardening for 66 women and 84 men in Awdal and Kismayo villages. Also, the COFRAU and its partners distributed seven different varieties of seeds to 1,145 farmers (488 women and 657 men) in the Awdal, Kismayo and Hudur regions. Farmers in these communities can now cope with a lack of rainfall and food insecurity as they can use perm gardening techniques to capture and store rain from the rainy season. In addition to that, they also have free access to good quality, seasonal food.

Perma gardens training participants on November 30, 2019, Magalo-cad, Borama district
Distribution of agricultural seeds to Magalo-Cad on December 05, 2019

The families gained practical and long-term knowledge on how to improve their nutritional intake, by learning a method that allows them to diversify their food and grow crops at home. The project also greatly improved the resilience of vulnerable communities in drought-affected areas, by teaching them a different farming system, which is more sustainable. Indeed, the latter forecasts and helps in soil conservation, which overall contributes to the adaptation to climate change.

*The name of the beneficiary has been changed for protection reasons.

Alin Hasan Hirsi is a 50-year-old resident of the Magalo-cad Borama district. He is the father of six children and relied on his relatives for financial support, having lost his farm to droughts and high agricultural input prices.

He participated in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and perm gardening training on water harvesting, seed selection, simple irrigation methods, crop diversity, and kitchen gardening techniques. He was also a beneficiary of the agricultural inputs provided by ACTED. He planted 48 kilograms of garlic gloves seeds and prepared a small plot of land for his farm. He said he harvested 375 kilograms of garlic, which he can sells up to 750 US dollars, as well as some crops like carrots or watermelon. This allows him to sustain his and his family’s needs, both in terms of income and food.

His story is only one of the 560 people who benefited from the REVIVE project in Magalo-Cad and Magalo-Qalooc Burao District funded by the French embassy in Kenya. Communities can now practice ecologically sound and economically viable farming methods. Individuals can provide for their own needs and those of their families, while the methods they use do not exploit nature or pollute and are therefore sustainable in the long term.

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