World desertification day: Combatting drought in Somalia

Source(s): World Bank, the
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  • This World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, also known as World Desertification Day, marks 25 years of progress towards building resilience against drought and desertification globally
  • Through collaborative efforts by local communities, a project led by the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations helped limit the impact of drought, famine and land degradation for millions of Somalis in rural areas of the country
  • The project has also boosted their productivity, while improving disaster preparedness

SOMALILAND - Sirad Suldan has survived one of the worst droughts to hit Somalia in years. Sequential seasons of reduced rainfall, low harvests, and dying livestock exposed her community and many others in Shabelay Village, Borama District to famine from drought.

“Before the drought, we were okay. We had our livestock–sheep and goats for milking, as well as oxen to plough the farm,” she said. But the drought hit communities hard, leaving hundreds and thousands of Somalis such as Suldan, who lost all her livestock, facing hunger and famine. “We were still alive, but we were very weak. Without livestock, how could I live and meet my basic needs?”

In 2016 drought had left, 40% of Somalia’s population food insecure due to famine from drought. By 2017, acute hunger had struck 6.3 million people across the country. Climate change and increasing disaster risks further jeopardized lives and livelihoods.

To help families struck by drought and hunger get back on their feet, the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations teamed up with the government of Somalia and other partners for the Somalia Emergency Drought Response and Recovery Project (SEDRP), which provided cash and livelihood support to local communities while improving their disaster preparedness. Supporting the FAO’s Drought Response and Famine Prevention Plan for 2017, the second component of the project focused on increasing the population’s immediate access to food, safeguarding livelihoods and assets, and supporting the sustainable recovery of agriculture and agro-pastoral livelihood systems in communities.

“Our goal was to ensure that the country would be able to withstand drought and famine with key interventions especially crafted to give families and working communities the support they need to succeed. The World Bank’s strong collaboration with local communities and the FAO reflects how partnership can make a difference in the lives of millions,” said Ayaz Parvez, Task Team leader for the project.

Through the program, 2.1 million people in rural Somalia helped to build resilience against future drought and famine. In exchange for work, people received seeds for planting, rented tractors to till their farmland, and some cash. About half of these beneficiaries were women. Nearly 80,000 people got immediate access to food, while building their community’s capacity against resilience. Through a cash-for work program, the community rehabilitated 87 public structures including water catchments, irrigation canals and soil bunds to withstand future exposure to drought. Nearly nine million animals—worth more than $330 million—were vaccinated and treated against diseases, supporting 222,000 rural families. New livelihoods boosted communities and restored stability to 360,000 families overall. By 2018, 27% of people experiencing food insecurity had become secure and enjoyed sustainable livelihoods.

The project adopted flexible and adaptive tactics to effectively reach about 160,000 people with life-saving interventions. When unanticipated floods hit Somalia in 2018, an additional 1.7 million animals received protective veterinary care to preserve local livelihoods dependent on livestock farming. The project employed innovative monitoring and evaluation tactics and adaptive environmental and social safeguards to meet the needs of the people, including Suldan and her family.

The World Bank is dedicated to collaborating with local communities, international partners, and other UN agencies, toward implementing resilient strategies that build back better disaster resilient infrastructure, better tactics for preparedness, and better livelihoods that can end poverty, grow economies, and boost shared prosperity. 

This World Desertification Day marks 25 years of the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), as the world ramps up efforts to reduce on land degradation and enhance sustainable development and growth. The World Bank is committed to working with local communities and global partners to implement resilient strategies that “build back better”—better resilient infrastructure, better disaster preparedness, and better livelihoods—contributing to the goals of ending poverty, growing economies, and boosting shared prosperity. 

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Hazards Drought
Country and region Somalia
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