A Step Toward Resilience: Joint Initiatives Addressing Protracted Crisis in Somali Region-Ethiopia

Introduction

The Protracted Crisis Programme provided an opportunity for replicating and up-scaling an integrated approach for resilience, linking disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and ecosystem management and restoration, along the lines of the “Partners for Resilience” (PfR) initiative that included a mixture of anticipation, response, adaptation and transformation measures. The programme worked directly on water and food security by protecting and restoring natural resources. In the Somali Region, the programme’s overall objective was that, ‘by June 2017, 50,000 people in 9 target kebeles in Gursum, Jigjiga and Tuli Guleid woredas, would be more resilient against shocks and stresses caused by climaterelated extreme weather and the effects of environmental degradation.’ One of the three outcomes of the programme was improved food security. The main food security challenges in the region were noted as environmental degradation, declining productivity from lack of access to improved seed and farming technologies, and lack of alternative livelihood options. These challenges were addressed through implementation of a range of activities. The focus of this outcome was on improving agriculture and pastoralist practices and creating (better) access to agriculture extension and veterinary services.

Over 100 households received various agricultural inputs like early maturing seeds and cassava cuttings, as well as training. Also, 120 modern beehives and related accessories were produced and distributed to 120 beneficiaries in 2017. The programme undertook to implement rainwater harvesting techniques and to construct 7 farm ponds so as to provide water for farming in the dry season. In order to improve animal health, community animal health workers (CAHWs) were provided with essential veterinary kits to treat animals.

Other major activities of the programme included the establishment of income generating activities (IGAs) and the establishment of self-help groups (SHGs) especially for vulnerable women, construction and providing equipment for milk storage center (for wholesale and retail milk trade), purchasing of milk pasteurizing machine for the women group, provision of drought tolerant and short maturing seed varieties such as maize, cassava, onion and training of farmers on agronomic practices.

The second outcome was improved water security. This was largely met through the development of water facilities and establishing and enhancing the capacity of water management committees which was a key element of sustainable use of water structures.

Moreover, in order to improve water security in Somali Region, the programme constructed 2 new birkads to serve 300 households and the Bombas sand dam to serve 350 households.

In addition, there was the development of a knowledge base through the development of the Atlas as well as preparation work on sub-catchment management plans for watershed protection. The programme also undertook training of trainers (TOT) for regional and target programme woredas targeting experts on participatory range land management and soil and water conservation techniques. The Laftagalol earthen dam was one of the 17 water facilities contracted out and constructed by the Somali Region Water Bureau (SRWB). The dam has a reservoir holding capacity of 1 million cubic metres.

The third outcome of the programme was disaster risk reduction (DRR) for better preparedness against the common hazards in the region - drought and flood. Results planned on DRR focused on being prepared for shocks and making contingency measures to disasters as well as setting up early warning/early action activities. The main outputs contributing to this outcome included disaster risk reduction measures such as strengthening contingency planning and early warning systems.

Food security in Somali Region requires long-term investment (over 10 years) for landscape restoration and management. The final evaluation therefore recommended a long-term commitment from strategic partners to address the root causes of extreme vulnerability of communities while also upscaling and replicating initiatives and responses that have been seen to work. These included women self-help groups, promotion of climate adapted drought tolerant and fast maturing maize, wheat, cassava and onion varieties through ‘model agropastoralists’.

Water and soil conservation around the new dams are a long term assignment that will require more investment by Somali Region Water Bureau, communities and other partners to fully restore the degraded soils to high yield levels.

Strengthened linkages between community animal health workers (CAHWs) trained by the programme and government livestock extension workers in this area is a key economic indicator for livelihood improvement. Training and provision of equipment and drugs for CAHWs and set-up of vet-related income generating businesses is expected to motivate CAHWs to do this important work for their communities beyond the programme period.

On water security, one of the successes of the Chronic Crises Programme is the development of the “Atlas of Upper Fafan”, a knowledge base on the target basin and sub-catchments of Tuli Guleid, Gursum and Jigjiga woredas that identified hydrological and ecological processes, ecosystem services, land cover (including changes over time), stakeholder mapping and assessed root causes of risk.

The restoration of Elbahay dam will provide water for Jigjiga town and its surroundings. An excellent participatory consultation process was applied with representatives from regional and woreda water bureau, agriculture, environmental protection, surrounding kebele administrations, non-governmental organizations operating in the area and Jigjiga University.

Over 20 new water facilities have been constructed or rehabilitated. Despite the difficulties that were faced in the partnership between ERCS and CRWB due to delays and quality concerns, the programme managed to realize most of its goals. Once the soil and water conservation activities at the two dam sites have been finalized, the management of the dams and water facilities will be the responibility of the trained water committees and water bureau after the closure of the programme. With all other new water schemes operational, the water projects are expected to have a long-term and multiplier impact in reducing mobility, addressing water shortage and supporting small scale agricultural practices for thousands of people. The new Laftagalol earthen dam is seen as one of the biggest projects implemented in the region and its construction was commended by the Regional President as good work of infrastructural development.

The establishment of community based disaster risk reduction (CBDRR) committees and the development of a community mobilization system in all targeted kebeles enabled communities to better prepare for, mitigate and respond to natural disasters. With support from ERCS, relevant government institutions and consortium partner RCCC, communities organized themselves and indicated that they had already developed a “new mind set” on preparedness and early action through the enhanced community self-organization. They further received training on disaster risk management (DRM) and early warning and early action. This significantly strengthened relations with ERCS, relevant government offices and the regional meteorology office.

The stories captured in this book, ‘A step towards resilience: Joint initiatives addressing protracted crisis in Somali Region- Ethiopia’ are testimonies of how these initiatives have begun to impact the lives of the communities and the implementing agencies. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as the contributors enjoyed putting them together.

Maria Twerda, Netherlands Red Cross