Borama communities successfully battle soil erosion

Monday, 01 March 2010

Years of support to communities in Sogsogley and Ashado in Borama have begun to bear fruit. The communities are now pushing back the threats to their livelihoods brought on by land degradation.

Sogsogley and Ashado are among the fertile valleys of Awdal region, where the cultivation of cereals such as sorghum and maize was introduced about 80 years ago. These crops remain the staple food in this farming community. However, the past few decades have witnessed a gradual decline in production, with yields dropping to half a ton per hectare. The trend is attributed to the dependency on rainfall, which is irregular, together with environmental degradation. Arable land has been swept away, and the resulting gullies are as deep as six metres. This massive loss of rich farmland, which has led to low soil fertility and low productivity, has subjected the community to abject poverty.

The Integrated Watershed Management and Flood Protection (IWSM) project implemented in Sogsogley and Ashado, which has an employment generation aspect is helping to reverse the problem of soil erosion and is gradually restoring the productive capacity of farmland and pasture in watershed areas. The project has made a tremendous difference in the lives of many residents.

“Gully erosion that devastated the arable land has been stabilized by the construction of check dams and gabion boxes ,” says Mohamed Hassan*, an IWSM beneficiary from Dhabolaq village.

Halima Sharif* is also a beneficiary of the IWSM project. The project facilitated diversion of seasonal runoff water from access roads into her farm,  drastically increasing her produce. In addition, she earned income as a labourer for the project, from which she bought food and clothing for her family.

“This is a good project. We were employed and received income. Youth and women from the community − especially the most vulnerable among us, such as IDPs and the socially deprived − have a fair share in employment. Sometimes it’s the entire family, with parents and children, that is recruited,” she says.

Similar sentiments are expressed by Mohamed Hassan. He used income he earned to improve his small farming enterprise.

“A tractor tilled my farm at the beginning of the season. I did not have any money then. Luckily I was recruited for community labour. It gave me a daily income that helped me to save and clear my debts,” says Mohamed.

“This project has improved our lives. It has enabled us to afford our basic needs and our lifestyles have changed,” concludes Halima Sharif.

The Watershed Management and Flood Protection project helps communities protect themselves against the threat and effect of floods and harvest water for agriculture and livestock.

*name has been changed

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