Somalia and the Sanaag region, in particular, have been experiencing increasing environmental degradation due to both natural causes and human activities which have resulted in rainfall shortages and recurrent droughts. The impact of environmental degradation in the Sanaag region has put at risk the lives of both humans and livestock. In recent years, gully erosion, which is the removal of soil along drainage lines by water run-off, has been identified as one of the major environmental problems threatening the lives of people and their livelihoods in Sanaag region.

Construction of Gabions in Jiidali Village ©CARE/Barkhad

Jiidali village, which is situated 40 kms east of Erigavo district and is surrounded by valleys, has been facing climate change induced hazards, including floods caused by gully formation. This has led to the loss of farmlands which has contributed to a drastic decrease in agricultural production and availability of arable land for pasture in the most fertile grazing areas. Additionally, the gully almost damaged the only drilled underground well (known as Riig) that was recently constructed by the Jiidali local community with support from their diaspora community.

“This gully, which our local community calls ‘Xiingow,’ was expanding speedily. Whenever it rains it will increase 10 meters sideward, hence putting more risks onto the rangeland, and if we were not controlling it like we are doing now, it will have surely eliminated our farmland. By the same token, the gully endangers the indigenous plants which our Jiidali Valley is well-known for and our livestock depend on. The water diversion from the valley base into the gully results in the valley bed remaining dry and unproductive.”

Sa’eed Barre, from Jiidali village

CARE’s approach to climate change adaptation and resilience building projects, like Somalia towards Reaching Resilience (STORRE), is grounded in the belief that people must be empowered to transform and secure their rights and livelihoods. Thus, in response to the above mentioned challenges faced by communities in Sanaag region, CARE’s STORRE project, in consultations with Jiidali local community, conducted a participatory needs assessment to identify communities’ priority needs.

One of the prevailing challenges identified by the Jiidali community included the formation of gully erosion. As a result, the community listed the need for the construction of gabion baskets as the number one priority in their community adaptation plan. Once a gully formation begins, it will continue to move headward or drop sidewalls. Therefore, the construction of the gabions help stabilize the gully’s expansion and its disruption to communities’ livelihood activities. According to the community, the construction of gabion baskets help them control the highly escalating gully erosion in their village and protect their livelihood activities.

To ensure community participation at all levels, the local elders were consulted to provide advice on the best design to meet the need of local communities before installing the gabion baskets. The aim of the consultation with the elders was to harmonize the technical design created by CARE’s Program engineers and the design proposed by the traditional elders.

A total of 50 people were employed for constructing the gabions through Cash for Work (CFW) which was on-going for 2-3 months. With the CFW, each person was earning a monthly wage of $70. Local community members were involved in the selection process of laborers through a participatory and transparent approach with pre-determined selection criteria. Some of the pre-set criteria included that participants should be from destitute families and 50% of the employees should be women.

“Following the construction of the gabion baskets, the water retention increased and the grass started to prosper for livestock. The installed gabions controlled the expansion of the gully. The gabion baskets are now preventing the gully from growing speedily. Although we are still in the dry season, the fear of floods destroying our crops is no longer an issue. Everybody can now opportunely grow grass and other crops.”

Adaani Ahmed, Jiidali Community Member