UNDP's Efforts to Combat Drought and Erosion Bring Hope to Somalia's Poorest Communities

UNDP's Efforts to Combat Drought and Erosion Bring Hope to Somalia's Poorest Communities

Protection walls constructed by UNDP and the Government of Puntland, with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), are protecting rangeland in Somalia's most vulnerable areas © UNDP

Published: August 21, 2023 Source: UNDP

Puntland, Somalia — In the face of the worst drought Somalia has experienced in four decades, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is working tirelessly to prevent further devastation caused by droughts, floods, and soil erosion. The efforts are specifically focused on providing vital assistance to some of the country's poorest farmers and herders.

Dire Consequences of Ongoing Drought 

Somalia has been grappling with the dire consequences of a relentless drought. A staggering 42,000 excess deaths were reported in 2022 alone, and the toll on both livestock and human lives has been severe. Over 3.5 million livestock have perished since 2021, and approximately 1.4 million people have been displaced due to the crisis. Unfortunately, the situation is projected to worsen as climate change continues to escalate, leading to more frequent and severe weather events.

UNDP's Lifeline to Vulnerable Communities 

To offer long-term solutions and resilience against climate-related disasters, UNDP has partnered with Somali government institutions to construct essential water harvesting infrastructure, including earth dams, sand dams, and erosion barriers. Notably, these initiatives are proving to be a lifeline for the most vulnerable communities in Puntland.

In the village of Jidad, situated in the Gardo district, a UNDP-built 24,000 cubic-meter earth dam has provided a continuous water source for two years. This crucial resource has not only sustained camels and goats, preserving the traditional herding way of life, but also extended its benefits to neighboring villages up to 80 kilometers away. Around 5,000 families have benefited directly from this initiative, which has brought a glimmer of hope to a region that has struggled with water scarcity.

Sustainability and Growth 

To ensure the long-term sustainability of these efforts, local water committees, trained by UNDP, operate and maintain the water structures. Funding is collected through a nominal charge of up to $10 levied on water trucks, covering operational expenses and a security guard's salary. The positive impacts have rippled through the community, allowing families near Jidad to expand their farms, thereby enhancing nutrition and local incomes.

A Multi-Faceted Approach 

UNDP's commitment to combating climate-related challenges extends beyond water access. Collaborating with Puntland's Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, the organization has implemented projects to control land erosion and protect the region's natural environment. Through the construction of check dams and water diversion channels, the effects of overgrazing, deforestation, and other detrimental practices have been mitigated. The initiative has not only improved the environment but also created employment opportunities for around 5,000 workers in drought-affected areas.

A Promise for the Future 

The restoration of rangeland productivity is critical for the survival of pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in ecologically fragile parts of Puntland. These communities play an essential role in combatting desertification, enhancing groundwater availability, and ensuring the availability of fodder for livestock. UNDP remains committed to partnering with local communities and government entities to construct new environmental infrastructure and maintain existing structures.

Global Environment Facility's Role 

None of these endeavors would be possible without the support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Their funding has been instrumental in saving lives and livelihoods across Somalia. To learn more about UNDP's collaboration with GEF, visit: https://www.undp.org/somalia/sustainable-natural-resources-management-inclusive-economic-growth

As UNDP continues to work tirelessly, it brings hope to Somalia's most vulnerable communities, demonstrating that sustainable solutions can pave the way for a more resilient future.