Building Resilience to Climate Change through Agroforestry in Somalia

Qurdubey village, Gedo region, Jubaland state is home to Mama Dahabo Abdi. For many years, the village had thrived on the practice of agropastoralism, blending agriculture and livestock rearing. But a combination of natural and human factors has resulted in the degradation of thousands of hectares of land in the region severely affecting their livelihoods.

Climate change has exacerbated the situation, causing prolonged and more severe droughts, as well as unpredictable weather patterns. Consequently, land degradation has become an alarming reality, inflicting devastating consequences on both the people and the environment. The increasing desertification has compelled many of the agropastoralists to allow their livestock to roam freely to graze, which further retards land regeneration.

Over the course of a few decades, the once vibrant local ecosystem has degraded into dry, dusty expanses of land largely devoid of trees and greenery. This environmental decline poses a significant threat to vulnerable households already burdened by a multitude of challenges, including poverty, limited access to employment opportunities, and restricted options for diversified livelihood options. The consequences are dire, directly impacting household food security and exacerbating the prevalence of nutritional deficiencies.

Dahabo Abdi irrigating trees at the tree Nursery.

Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD) in partnership with Terre des Hommes (TdH), with funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), is implementing an Agroforestry program in Qurdubey Village. This initiative aims to combat climate change while promoting sustainable livelihoods through diversified agriculture practices for agropastoralist IDP and host communities in Gedo, Galgadud, Banadir (Somalia), and Mandera County (Kenya). 

Mama Dahabo Abdi is one of the 50 beneficiaries who actively participate in this initiative. They have undergone training in tree nursery management and agroforestry techniques. The training program covers topics such as the establishment and effective management of tree nurseries, as well as the significance of soil erosion control and conservation measures. Through this program, farmers also gain an understanding on the vital role trees play in sustainable agricultural practices.

Reflecting on her newfound knowledge, Mama Dahabo Abdi shared, “I have been a farmer all my life, but I never fully got the true importance of trees. To me, they were simply trees.” However, equipped with the necessary tools and insights into agroforestry, Mama Dahabo and her fellow farmers have embarked on a transformative journey. They have diligently nurtured young tree seedlings in the community tree nursery, ensuring their growth before they are eventually transplanted into the fields.

Community tree nursery

The community tree nursery comprises of several trees. This includes Moringa and Neem trees, as well as fruit-bearing trees such as pawpaw, guava, and citrus. The farmers have successfully transplanted 500 trees along fences, irrigation canals, and in intercropped spaces with crops like maize, cow peas, sesame, and sudan grass on their farms. Currently, an additional 600 trees are being carefully nurtured within the nursery, before being transplanted.

Some of the Neem trees growing along the canals.

Through the construction of a shallow well, a concrete water storage tank, the installation of a solar-powered water pumping system, and water pipework, NAPAD has significantly improved water accessibility for irrigating the tree nursery, the transplanted trees and the variety of crops growing in the farm.

“We now see the difference that has become of the farm, it used to be dry with thorny bushes, but now it has transformed into a lush farm with crops and trees that will one day provide us with shade.” reported Dahabo

By intercropping with fruit trees, the farmers gain access to fresh, nutritious fruits which contributes to improved nutrition and food security of their households. The trees also serve as windbreakers, shielding the food crops from strong winds that can cause physical damage. Furthermore, the integration of trees will contribute to both climate change mitigation and soil and water conservation in this hot and semi-arid region. The farmers can also have diversified income sources through the sale of tree products.

Dahabo Abdi and other farmers who participate in the agroforestry program expressed their appreciation for the valuable knowledge and skills they acquired. Considering this, they made a request to extend the program to the other members of the village. She believes that by doing so, more people will become aware of the importance of trees in our ecosystem and join in the fight against climate change.

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