Somalia experience periodic climatic shocks every two to five years with flooding, cyclones and particularly droughts. The impact of these recurrent shocks has resulted in displacement and created increased demands for water and land to grow crops and feed livestock. This has contributed to changing rainfall patterns, long drought periods and flooding. In the past decade, Somali rural communities have been facing an unprecedented food and livelihood crisis. Recently, small-scale subsistence farmers who depend on rain-fed agricultural production systems for their livelihoods have suffered from the worst drought in 60 years. The 2011 - 2018 famine has costed the lives of about a quarter of a million people. Due to prolonged droughts and extreme climate conditions, crops and livestock are increasingly being lost. The negative human influences on the environmentsuch as cutting down trees for charcoal production lead to soil erosion and degradation, loss of agro-biodiversity, deforestation and desertification and therefore a drop in both agriculture and livestock outputs.
Building resilient Communities in Somalia “BRCiS II” was initiated late 2018 with lessons from BRCiS I completed in 2017. NRC is a member of BRCiS II Consortium which is a multi-year Resilience Programme in Somalia. Through the consortium, NRC is currently implementing BRCiS-II in Galgadud, Banadir, Bay region, Lower Jubba & Gedo in Jubaland and Sool & Sanaag in Somaliland. The overall objective is to ensure that vulnerable and marginalized communities are more resilient to the recurrent shocks and stresses, engage in sustainable livelihood strategies and contribute to the long-time development goals outlined in the national development plan. The project has layers of interventions essential in building communities’ capacities to certain shocks and stresses in a fragile context. A range of activities extending from recovery, rehabilitation, and development of sustainable livelihood initiatives are implemented to respond to community needs and building their capacities to sustain these achievements.
BRCiS II project is supporting the most vulnerable and marginalized communities in Baidaio district of South-West State (SWS) in building their resilience capacities to cope with shocks and disasters and foster recovery to ending hunger., Additionally it seeks to achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. The project has recorded significant achievements and impact in meeting the desired project objectives in Baidoa district.
In Baidao, BRCiS project targets rural participant communities include Salbuuy, Bonkai, Boqol-itar and Reebay. These villages are situated within the Agro-pastoral livelihood zones and experienced periodic shockwaves that resulted in economic development setbacks, household food insecurity due to droughts, deficient quality farm inputs, less ability of farmers to respond to certain shocks, and degraded soil fertility.
In Baidaio district, 175 subsistence farmers from vulnerable households in Salbuy, Bonkai, Boqo-iitar and Reebay villages received agricultural support from NRC. This was to build their resilience capacities to withstand and recover from shocks and disasters. NRC provided farm inputs (seeds and tools) and training on Good Agricultural Practises (GAP) to enrich sustainable farming practices and minimize poverty and improved household food security. Additionally, the farmers received certified drought resistant seeds such as Sorghum (Sareno Variety)) and Maize (Saredo variety).
They also received legumes (green grams and cowpea belt) and groundnut crops which improve household food and nutritional security and replenishing to soil fertility and structure.
Osman said (Bonkai Village leader) “Before training, farmers used pesticides to control pests and inorganic fertilizers to stock up soil nutrients but now trained farmers are using homemade pesticides and manure which conserve the environment, available anywhere and at low cost”. He then boasted, “In the last Deyr’ season, farmers produced a vast amount of harvest that made them champions in the season since they planted certified seeds and used improved cropping techniques that enhanced their yields through adapting to new practices which they learned GAP training”.
With the prevailing climate change conditions, Somalia is facing more frequent droughts and floods than before. Those living in rural regions are particularly vulnerable according to Osman Said. He added; “We acquired the essentials for our farming practices as a farmer’s association through the BRCiS II project. These consists of engaging in several sustainable farming practices in the face of climate change, building knowledge and skills at the community level and monitoring using community-based early-warning methods to increase the understanding of farmers”
Abdalla Said of Salbuuy Village Agro-Cooperative added, “We used to harvest little quantity of grains, cowpeas, and groundnuts before NRC stepped in, but after we attended farmer training and received certified seeds, we became great producers in the domestic market, and in that case, we managed to feed our children with diversified nutritious food and were also able to cover our family needs since we achieved constant employment in our farmlands without going outside our village”.
They used to receive 1 Tacab (9m x 30 m) less than one drum (less than 80kg) of sorghum in a normal season but after NRC’s farmer training and input support, the yield has increased up to 150kg of sorghum in 1 Tacab in the last Deyr season. They do a crop rotation due to training they had, alternate the cereals with legumes and vice-versa in Deyr season to improve soil nutrition and to increase the yield. Previously, they were not undertaking appropriate crop spacing (rows and between plants) until the farmer’s training. This has helped them to reduce pest and disease infestations and eased movement during weeding and harvesting. Within the Agro–cooperative now small farmers have purchasing power, internal support and are given them in-house loans. The farmers in Salbuy, Bonkai, Boqo-iitar and Reebay villages are now able to supply Baidoa vegetable market with more agriculture produce (sorghum, green gram, cowpeas and groundnuts), and can afford farm inputs, investing in education and other household needs.