Solar Energy Improves Food Security of Pastoralists in Abudwak

Dalsan, a village roughly 20km from Abudwak town, hosts 400 households who rely on a diesel-powered generator. The high cost of running the generator and regularly breakdown forced the Dalsan community to turn to unsafe water sources such as water ponds.

“Getting water was our main challenge, and when the generator broke down, which was the norm, we would buy water from the town at exorbitant prices. Those who could not afford to buy water resorted to fetching water from the dirty ponds”, reports Abdi Hassan Ali, a father of 7 children and the community leader of Dalsan Village.

Solar panels installed to power water pumping at the Dalsan Borehole.

It’s under these conditions that Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD) with funding from Somali Humanitarian Fund (SHF) intervened in Dalsan village with a project whose objective was improving food security by providing a hybrid solar water pumping system that would increase water for livestock use as well as diversification into vegetable production through kitchen gardening.

Now this solar has closed that gap and made access to water easier with fewer worries about fuel costs, and whether or not the generator will break down. The solar pumps the water, and we fill the elevated tank, and it’s sufficient”, Reports Abdi Hassan Ali.


The solar-powered water pumping system has increased the output of water from the borehole by 50%. With this increase, NAPAD conducted a 3-day training for 50 women-headed households on kitchen gardening. The project then provided farm inputs in the form of various vegetable seeds and farming equipment to support them start their Kitchen-gardens.

NAPAD agronomist monitor kitchen gardens

“We are grateful for the kitchen garden, with no shortage of water I can engage in other productive activities for the betterment of family and give time to my kitchen garden”, says Zainab, a resident of Dalsan Village and a mother of 5 where she now grows Kale, spinach, capsicum, hot pepper and watermelon, and she plans to expand the garden to cater for local market demand

KITCHEN GARDENS DIVERSIFY DIETS FOR PASTORALISTS IN ABUDWAK

Abudwak, Galmudug state being arid and water scarce, there is a common perception that it is not suitable for farming.  Farming is the least thing discussed in many households in this remote part of the country. That notion is slowly fading away for many households after NAPAD introduced kitchen garden farming for pastoralist communities in Abudwak.

It’s 6.00 am; mama Fatuma is watering her small kitchen garden in her plot, a routine she has religiously observed for the last three months since she was introduced to kitchen gardening by NAPAD. Mama Fatuma’s 10M by 5M kitchen garden looks promising. Within a month of planting her seeds and seedlings, the plants have begun to bear fruits, first Capsicum, Tomatoes, kales, and watermelon. The excited mother of 8 can’t believe her progress and can’t help but admire her work.  Her farm will produce enough vegetables for her family use and sell them in the local market.

Now Abudwak comes to us

MAMA FATUMA
Mama Fatuma in a discussion with NAPAD agronomist

“We no longer travel to Abudwak town to get vegetables. I have plenty in my compound. We get it anytime we want. Now Abudwak comes to us’’, Reports the new farmer.  In addition to growing food for her family, Fatuma can sell some of the vegetables she grows. For example, she sells each capsicum at 10 cents Dollar. “This morning I sold two Kgs of tomatoes and 1kg of capsicum to a grocery in Abduwak town’’ says delighted Fatuma.

NAPAD, in partnership with Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF), is implementing a project that promotes diversification into kitchen gardens by the pastoralist community for a sustainable supply of nutritious fresh vegetables and fruits. Water for this farming is supplied by the village boreholes in Dalsan and Hulkujur villages in Abudwak district.

NAPAD through SHF funding has solarized water pumping in these boreholes, increasing their water output, reducing the cost of pumping the water, and employing sustainable renewable energy to pump the water.  The increased water output ensures that the community has enough water for domestic use, livestock use, and now for their kitchen gardening. “Before the kitchen garden farming, we used to have this belief that farming does well only where rivers flow. We have realized you can farm anywhere when water is available” says Mama Fatuma

Mama Fatuma assesses her capsicums

NAPAD, with the support of the community elders, identified 100 women from Dalsan and Hulkujur villages in Abudwak who were trained in kitchen farming.  The women were provided with farm inputs which include vegetable seeds and farm tools. Fatuma is among 100 beneficiaries of this project.  The approach seeks to diversify sources and quality of food and nutrients for vulnerable persons such as women and children. This is the first time Mama Fatuma and the other women were introduced into farming as this pastoralist community relies more on livestock production for food.

Mama Fatuma’s spinach grown in a gunny sack

Now that these women farmers have registered success in kitchen garden farming, many other women are willing to learn, so that they too can venture and replicate the success story in kitchen garden farming.   Mama Fatuma dreams to have a big farm that will supply the whole of Abudwak town. She appreciates NAPAD and their staff for introducing them to vegetable farming. “We say thank you to NAPAD and the donors for giving us this knowledge we didn’t have. May Allah bless you”.  

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IN THE COVID-19 CONTEXT

In recent years, climate-related shocks, mainly drought and flooding, have increased in frequency and intensity, intensifying humanitarian needs and undermining resilience at the household and community levels.

Jamac Xaashi Abdille, a 45-year-old father of seven children who lives in Barwaaqo Village in Abduwaak district Somalia slowly proceeds to the Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD) beneficiary registration centre. Like many families who are struggling to recover from recurrent calamities of drought over the past couple of years, life has not been easy for him and his family. His vulnerability has been heightened by his physical impairment which limits his ability to travel far and wide to access other forms of livelihoods.

Jamac Xaashi Abdille at the NAPAD UCT registration centre

A near-constant cycle of drought and conflict has forced my family to flee a number of times, surviving on the generosity of locals and support of relatives who offered food and other assistance. We barely have enough to live on. As a Person Living with Disabilities (PWD) this makes it even harder for me to carter for my family,” he continues.

To improve the food security of vulnerable communities in Abudwak, NAPAD with funding from Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF) is implementing an eight-month project that will increase immediate access to food, protection of livestock assets, and diversification of livelihoods by this majorly pastoralist community.

In Barwaaqo village Abduwak district, NAPAD is conducting registration of beneficiaries for unconditional cash transfers (UCT). As opposed to previous years, the beneficiaries are moving in queues to maintain physical distancing as they eagerly wait to be served. Previously these exercises would typically be characterized by people in small crowds or seated next to each other catching up waiting to be served.

Things can not remain business as usual.

Fatuma Abdullahi
Beneficiaries waiting to be served at the registration center

“Things cannot remain business as usual, the pandemic has remodeled our operations as a humanitarian organization working in a fragile context. We have put in place measures to ensure social distancing especially in our community engagements,” Says Fatuma Abdullahi, a project Manager in NAPAD.

As Jamac waits to be served, he is optimistic that the cash transfer will provide food for his family.

Thanks to Allah, I was included in the programme as one of the people who will receive 124 USD per month for three months through Mobile money transfer. This will improve our lives. I will be able to buy food for my children.” says Jamac.

The project will see 200 IDPs in Abudwak, and 200 vulnerable host communities receive 124 USD in unconditional cash transfer for three months. The UCT will help cushion the already heavy burden of these IDP communities that has been aggravated by the COVID 19 pandemic. NAPAD partnered with the local government to ensure the beneficiary selection process was inclusive to persons with disabilities like Jamac.

Cash For Work: Communities At The Frontline In Addressing Climate Change

In quiet rural villages of Abudwak district Somalia, pastoral communities herd their animals which they rely on as their major source of livelihoods. Due to climate change there has been an increase in the frequency of droughts and the pastoral communities become the hardest hit.  Most village settlements are occupied by people of the same clans and each village has a duty to protect the water sources which is the most source of conflict in pastoral communities.

The communities devised climate change coping mechanisms by digging canals and constructing water holding berkets with capacities of up to 360,000 litres. The water berkets are communally owned and this ensures the livestock have access to water throughout the year even during the dry season.

A berkert covered with tree branches as a means covering the water which is not appropriate since the water can easily be contaminated

However, accumulation of silt in the canals caused blockage and hinder water flow to the holding berkets during the rainy seasons especially in the months of May and October. In addition, most berkets are not roofed or fenced posing as a danger to humans and livestock.

In Galmaygag, the rocky and hilly village of 350 households has 50 berkets. There has been cases of 5 deaths in the past one year as a result of people sliding and falling into the berkets while drawing water from the berket and a number of animals have also fallen victim and suffered the same fate of death. Due to lack of roofing the berkets losses a lot of water through evaporation, the water is contaminated and hence posing a healthy risk to the villagers.

An uncovered berket . This is a health hazard since the water can easily be contaminated and animals can easily fall in or humans can fall in when drawing water

Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD) through the Assistance from Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF), conducted a cash for work program in Galmaygag and Liba-sexeey whereby 60 households were engaged in de-silting and excavating water canals.

In Liba-seexey village located in a flat area, there is a population of about 400 households. The village has 14 berkets. Three canals with a total length of 7000 metres were excavated.

In each village 30 households were selected where they were engaged for 22 days and in each day they were compensated with 4 dollars. At the end of the activity each family received a total of 88 dollars. This money was dispersed in two instalments where they were paid the first 10 days and the other one after 12 days.

The berkets rehabilitated through de-silting and canal excavation are now full of water. Besides empowering the communities to own their solutions, the initiative by NAPAD and SHF enhanced their economic standing as the payments given at a time when drought was at its peak enabled the households to buy food stuffs and medicines for their families.

Food Security: Abudwak Women Explore Kitchen Vegetable Farming

Neat green patches of sprouting leafy vegetables growing in rows contrasts the brown arid landscape of Abduwak District, Central Somalia. For the pastoral-oriented community, locally grown vegetables are a new phenomenal to the residents who usually buy fruits and vegetables from Beledweyne, a farming district 250 km away or beyond the borders in neighbouring Ethiopia.

Residents usually buy fruits and vegetables from Beledweyne, a farming District 250 Km away

Vegetable growing is a relatively new phenomenal for Abudwak villagers who consume meat as their major food. The lack of variety in their diet has seen diminished nutrition both in children and adults. This coupled with poor rains in this semi-arid region has often contributed to poor harvests and significant cereal shortfalls. A recent data report by FAO’s, Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) estimates that more than 2 million people in Somalia face acute food insecurity due to delayed rains.

In an effort to combat food insecurity, Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD) in partnership with the Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF) trained 50 women on Kitchen vegetable farming and nutrition. The women were trained on multi-storey and ground farming, and received farm tools, watering cans, and seeds of kales, watermelon, capsicum, onions, tomatoes and spinach from NAPAD.

Classroom discussion on vegetable farming and role of vegetables in improving nutrition at household level

Their plots of land measuring as large as 5 by 6 metres were cultivated and religiously watered by the women who took part in the training. In a span of 2 months, the vegetables flourished. After the harvest, NAPAD conducted two trainings on vegetables preparation and cooking in Abudwak IDP camp and Landheer village, considering most of the residents had never consumed kales, neither known how to prepare them.

NAPAD staff demonstrating on vegetable preparation. Most the villagers had no prior knowledge on how to cook vegetables
Beneficiaries taken through a demonstration on multi-storey farming

“I am now spending less money as I now obtain vegetables from my home garden. I enjoy the vegetables and usually cook them for breakfast & eat with Anjero instead of meat.”

“ I am now spending less money as I now obtain vegetables from my home garden. I enjoy the vegetables and usually cook them for breakfast & eat with Anjero instead of meat. Some women have also reported increased food intake by their kids after introduction of vegetables to the meals,” said one of the beneficiaries.

One of the beneficiaries harvesting kales from her home garden.

Intervening At A Time of Need: NAPAD and SHF Provides Emergency Aid to Vulnerable Communities

Close to 500 vulnerable households in Central Somalia’s Abudwak District have received live-saving relief from NAPAD and SHF in the last three months beginning June 2019.

In the face of extreme weather patterns and protracted wars in Somalia, many families have been left vulnerable, distressed, displaced and in the brink of starvation. Many families depend on livestock as their only source of income and supplement by casual labor or burning of charcoal. Extreme weather patterns experienced in the last few months made many families to move in search of pastures and water for their livestock.

The movement caused a lot of pressure to already existing pastures and water resulting to war between the occupying community and the new arrivals. Many families were also displaced and left in dire conditions with limited or no access to food, water and medication.

Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD) with funding from the Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF), identified and offered assistance to the most vulnerable displaced persons. To enable the vulnerable communities to dictate and meet their urgent needs, unconditional cash transfers to 430 households were made, with each household receiving 124 dollars per month for three months.

This was lifesaving to majority of the beneficiaries who used the largest portion of the money on buying food, water and drugs. The families could now afford a decent meal and the number of meal uptake increased from one meal per day to three meals per day.

Hawo Saidi Diriye, a 50 year old shopkeeper with a 15-member household opened a kiosk to sell tea to enable her to feed the family. The kiosk was operational 5 months before the cash transfer, and  was struggling to maintain the kiosks due high number of dependents and low sales from kiosks. The family only had one meal per day and the food quality was poor.

Hawo Saidi Diriye

 “I thank NAPAD for the grant which came at a time when we were facing severe drought. The cash has improved the standard of living for our community, since we can now afford a decent meal.”

The family can now comfortably afford three quality meals per day. Her sales from the kiosk have also increased since the community have disposable income which they use to buy food stuffs from her kiosk. Before the cash transfer on a good day she would make sales of 10 dollars per day. Now, she is making about 50 dollars per day and this has enabled her to increase the products and expand her business as she ventures into charging phones for the community.