With Every Piece of Land Reclaimed, Hope is Restored

Published November 25, 2014 by Muna Ali

Abdirahman Ali stands in the grazing land after the re-emergence of vegetation , Sagaarogaleen, Sanaag, Somalia. 

Decades ago it was a green habitat for many animals, particularly pastoralists’ livestock which grazed and roamed this land. However in the 1970s the entire region was hit by an acute drought that devastated the residents, their livestock and the environment.

Prior to the intervention of Adeso's “Your Environment is Your Life” project, Sagaarogaleen and its surrounding areas were left barren and suffered from severe degradation. In Sagaarogaleen particularly, a stream cut through the grazing land, causing the formation of gullies. During the raining season, water flowed through the stream, eroding it even more and rendering the land on its two sides dry and deprived of rain water.

Through Cash for Work activities, the project worked to improve soil and water retention by involving community members to construst soil and stone structures across grazing lands. In the Dhalin area a V-shape rock-dam structure was constructed across the stream. The structure’s first real test came after the seasonal Gu’ rain in May 2015.  The rock dam diverted water from the stream and allowed it to spread laterally to the grazing land, reaching distances rainwater had never reached before. The water promoted growth of pastures, but also healed the stream that was expanding into a gully through soil deposition inside it.

During a recent monitoring visit to the area, the change in the land was significant. The stream had been restored, vegetation had already emerged, and herds of livestock were grazing the land. As we rested under the shade of one of the trees, enjoying the warmth of grass underneath us, we conversed with Abdirahman Ali, the head of one of the pastoral families that lives in Sagaarogaleen. The father of 10 told us that his family has been living in this area for years.

“Before the drought this was a land of plenty,” he said with a hint of nostalgia in his voice for the days he witnessed as a boy. "Now, the land is green and fertile again, and water is being well managed. It's been great for the people of the area but also for my family, who benefited from the Cash for Work activities."

Find out more about the The 'Your Environment is Your Life' project here