Water at last: Pastoralists in Egag Can Now Breathe Easy

Published August 26, 2016 by Muna Ali

Pastoralists are known for their seasonal migration, and it’s a typical scene in Somalia to see them journeying with their families and livestock searching after water and pasture. Despite being a typical journey, it's one that is far from easy, especially during dry seasons. By the time a pastoral family decides to migrate, it has become a matter of survival for them.


As Hassan Qoodle,a pastoralist in Egag , Sool region puts it “If you have access to water, you have a life! If you don’t, at some point you will have to migrate with your family and livestock to a far off land where you can get enough pasture and water and start a new life there”


Like many other pastoral and semi-pastoral communities in Somalia, the community of Egag is almost entirely dependent on seasonal rainfall for their water. Even though Egag settlement receives a moderate amount of rain yearly, its pastoral community often faces water shortages because they lack water harvesting techniques.


“This fertile land has the potential to sustain hundreds of pastoral families and their animals. But for years especially during the dry season, it was deprived of rain water. Both people and animals are often exhausted by prolonged drought and when it rains, overgrazing depletes the pasture quickly.” Explained Awil Ali Abubakar, one of the community elders. “The little rainwater that the land received would often stream through the grazing land down into the sea unutilized and unbenefited from.”


This has been a problem that the pastoral community in Egag has endured until recently, when a water pond was excavated using heavy machines to conserve water and a 300m water diversion canal was dug to route water runoff into the pond. The water runoff which used to flow quickly over land sometimes eroding the topsoil now rests in and seeps through the land allowing the growth of vegetation.

The water pond now supplies 1000 households from pastoral and agro-pastoral communities of Egag living nearby with their need of water. The community of Egag is grateful for the excavation of the canal and the water pond. This is a simple yet a very much needed method of water conservation in dryland environments and members of the community have volunteered to carry out any rehabilitation and maintenance the pond and the canal might need in the future. 


The excavation of the diversion canal and the water pond was an EU funded initiative implemented under ‘Your Environment is Your Life’ program. A four-year program implemented by Adeso in partnership with the Puntland Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism and CARE. The program seeks to reduce hunger and food insecurity in Puntland by improving the rangeland conditions in the Puntland state of Somalia.