From Barren to Productive: Hubera Valley's Story
Published August 9, 2016 by Omar Dahir
By: Omar Dahir
once UPON A TIME HUBERA WAS A fertile valley under Badhan district of Sanaag region in northern Somalia. Historically, the valley was one of the most productive and life-sustaining grazing spots in the region as it hosted thousands of pastoral families. In the rainy season, pastoralists would flock to the valley from all over the region in order to herd and graze their livestock.
Back in the 1970s, the region was hit by a devastating cyclone that wreaked havoc in the area and led to the loss of the valley’s productivity leaving huge connected rills and gullies which drove water to the sea. Ever since the land has been spiralling into further degradation.Coupled with the lack of water it has now turned the valley into a barren land. With the passing of time, the valley has completely been coated by numerous sand dunes, dust and inedible drought plants. Eventually, these harsh climatic conditions had driven the pastoral families away.
Witnessing the gradual degradation of the land in Sanaag region an assessment was conducted in some locations in the region to select the most potential sites for a rangeland rehabilitation intervention. Hubera was one of the target areas that were selected to be rehabilitated
The purpose of the intervention was to spread water to the severely degraded and desertified areas of the valley with the intention of restoring vegetation and eventually improving rangeland conditions to sustain the livestock and the pastoral communities.
This intervention comes as a part of the Natural Resource Management (NRM) ‘Your Environment is Your Life’ rangeland rehabilitation activities. The four-year EU-funded project implemented by Adeso in collaboration with CARE and the Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism (MoEWT) aims at the restoration of rangeland and consequently reducing hunger and food insecurity in Puntland.
Water diversion canal were excavated to divert water to the valley and ensure safe disposal of runoff during the rainy season while preventing further erosion of gullies and rills in the land. This activity was intended to draw water to the dry valley, allowing it to infiltrate the soil resulting in the germination of seeds. Heavy machinery coupled with cash-for-work activities have been employed to implement this water retention and diversion undertaking.
After the rainy season, the change in the land was impressive. The vegetation production increased, and the land became green which attracted pastorals from all over the region and made the valley a pastoral hub once again.
Abdi Kubey, a 72- year-old, now a settler in Hubera who lived for more than 30 years, but migrated from Hubera last year explained how Hubera is getting back to its original productivity, and is now witnessing a tremendous increase in livestock production and improved livelihood of its communities.
“I could not believe that Hubera will go back to being a major grazing land in the region’’ Said Abdi Kubey.
Vegetation that disappeared for the last three decades have re-emerged again, and it incited quite many pastorals to come back to Hubera. “I was aware of the intervention that was being implemented but I have never imagined that the transformation of the land will be so significant. Said Abdi kubey.
“I had no intentions of coming back to Hubera, but I heard word that the land is now back to how it was decades ago. This is beyond what I expected. The land is now good for herding livestock and even farming” he adds.
Currently, Hubera has become sufficient for the survival of the livestock in both dry and wet seasons. The community of Hubera now understands that the little we do for the environment can positively alter their whole life.