Community Ownership in Action

Published July 21, 2016 by Omar Dahir Ali

Rad community mapping their natural resources during a training in Rad, Sanaag 

It goes without saying that raising a community’s awareness on the importance of a healthy and green environment is an integral part of Adeso’s effort to change the story of African communities.  

Given the ongoing environmental situation that is threating to turn Somalia’s landmass into a desert, within the next 50 years land restoration and reclamation is needed more than ever. It is now a matter of fact that rehabilitation of the land is not enough, however, the need to secure curative solutions is much needed to preserve the land from manmade and natural factors contributing to its degradation.  

Adeso’s ‘Your Environment is Your Life’ program trains Village Environmental Committees (VECs) on environmental protection and healthy environmental management. The training enhances the capacity of communities to manage their natural resources, resolve local resource-based conflicts and forge for peace. The VECs are also equipped with the knowledge necessary to sensitize their own communities on local environmental issues and to instill a sense of public ownership and stewardship of their environment and natural resources.

The VEC of Rad, a small village in Sanaag took the knowledge they got from the training a step further. As representatives of their community and close partners in the implementation of the program activities in their village, they mobilized their community to apply what they learned from the training in their own village. All this in an effort to revive their land and address various environmental issues that pose a risk to their livelihoods.

“The training enabled us to identify our important natural resources and the factors that lead to the depletion of these resources. One of the causes of land degradation is the uncontrolled trucks movement across the rangeland that damages both the soil and vegetation.  During the rainy seasons, runoff flows into these roads further eroding them into rills and gullies, and that poses a threat to our rangeland and livestock.” Explained Hassan Guure one of the VEC members that participated in the training.

“After we have received the training we decided to block some of those roads and rehabilitate the land using simple conservation techniques that we were taught during the training” He continued.

Abdirashid Abdullahi another participant in the training and a VEC member explained that back in 2007, Adeso-Horn relief then, carried out rangeland rehabilitation work, and water harvesting undertakings in Rad. Several rock-dams structures were constructed to stop gully and soil erosion, these structures he says, have been in need of rehabilitation. After the training, the committee mobilized the community and discussed with them the importance of maintaining the damaged rock dams. “The whole community got down to work without external assistance” He added in excitement.                                                                                                                                 

“This kind of environmental training puts things into perspective for us and leave us with the knowledge we need to offset harmful community practices, and rehabilitate damaged land by using free and locally available materials such as rocks and sand. Added Abdirashid Abdullahi.

Adeso believes in awareness raising for better and more sustainable solutions for environmental issues such as land degradation. Participatory training methods that it uses, motivate and empower communities to change their behavior and take action for sustainable development, helping them become part of the solution, rather than contributors to the problem.