Changing Rangelands in Somalia, One Site at a Time

Published May 25, 2015 by Suad Hassan

Meet Dahir Esse Warsame, a 51-year-old pastoralist living in Puntland, Northern Somalia. For over thirty years, Dahir has witnessed the degradation of his surrounding environment. The valley that once served as a prosperous grazing land is now a desert, negatively affecting pastoralist livelihoods.

‘’This valley was a place where pastoral nomads gathered to bring their livestock. It was full of pasture and vegetation, but due to the poor rains, prolonged drought and overgrazing, the valley has changed. It is now a desert and full of gullies,” he explains.

Over the past two years, Adeso has been working with Dahir and other community members to help restore the environment. Heavy machinery and labor-intensive Cash for Work activities are used to construct stone diversion structures, also known as rock dams. These help to divert, spread and detain water to restore pasture lands. Community members, who are mostly pastoralists like Dahir, have been enlisted in the Cash for Work activities.

“We are not only benefitting from the work by restoring the land, but we are also receiving an income,” says Dahir.
Dahir explained that with the long rains starting, the community is already starting to witness changes to the environment, “I have never seen water going into this valley. The water is reaching areas that haven’t received water in over 30 years!”

As the rangeland is slowly changing, Dahir and others, are able to feed their livestock, earn a living, and in turn feed their families. They are also learning how to care for their environment for years to come, with or without external support.

For the past two years, Adeso’s teams in Somalia have been working across more than 100 sites in Puntland, in the country’s northeast. The aim is to reduce hunger and food insecurity by promoting sustainable use of the region’s natural resources, including through the reduction of gully erosion and surface run-off, which can cause poor pasture in grazing areas, especially for families dependent on livestock.