Somalis work in a chili pepper field irrigated using the water provided by a sand storage dam. - https://www.ifad.org/documents/10180/1bb7af2b-4933-4da3-beb5-7d485e18f6d8

Water harvesting with an innovative ‘sand’ dam

 

Photo credit: IFAD

Said is a farmer in Dhubato, Somaliland, he is married with 10 children. As part of an IFAD-supported project an innovative water management solution was put in place, and now the construction of sand water storage dams guarantees a steady supply of water. ©IFAD/Marco Salustro

 

How an innovative ‘sand’ dam is causing a rush for water in Somalia

Drought and failed rains caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon have sparked a dramatic rise in the number of people going hungry in northern Somalia.

Self-declared independent Somaliland along the Gulf of Aden has been especially hard hit.

However, in the sub-regions of Maaroodi-Jeex and Awdal, in the arid and semi-arid region of Somaliland, an innovative water management solution is helping small farmers stay in business despite the changing weather patterns.

Inhabitants who previously left to look for work opportunities are flocking back to the area to return to farming, which they now see as profitable.

Even people from other communities in the area are lured by the promise of rapid returns on investment. After years of war, drought, political instability and famine, the construction of sand water storage dams, as part of the programme known as the North-Western Integrated Community Development Programme (NWICDP), supported by IFAD and funded by the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and the Belgian Fund for Food Security (BFFS), guarantees a steady supply of water.

“Water scarcity during the dry season is a major problem afflicting millions of Somali households, particularly agro-pastoral and nomadic poor people,” said Samir Bejaoui, Programme Analyst for IFAD’s Near East, North Africa and Europe Division.

“This innovative solution has improved access to drinking and irrigation water, increased crop and livestock production as well as farmers’ income.”

Although the project was completed in March 2015, the substantial benefits of the dams and associated shallow wells – along with other project investments to improve agriculture and livestock productivity, the quality of rural health and sanitation facilities – have triggered socio-economic change that is likely to be sustained in the future.

Read the full story: IFAD

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.