on 17th December 2018

Controlling Expanding Gully Erosion: The Case of the Jiidali Village

Somalia in general 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 human beings 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.

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 in turn 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.

Sa’eed Barre, who’s from Jiidali village, explains how the gully affected their lives: “This gully which our local community calls ‘Xiingow’ was expanding speedily. Whenever it rains it will increase like 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 would not get fodder. The water diversion from the valley base into the gully results in the valley bed remaining dry and unproductive.”

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 that will 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.

Construction of Gabions in Jiidali Village

Two gabion lines were constructed by the STORRE project in Jiidali Village with a total length of 360 meters at the gully’s head in order to partially reduce the water run-off and to retain soil. For example, if the velocity of the passing water is 60m/sec, the gabion reduces it to a velocity of 30m/sec, which means it decreases the speed up to 50%.

From a technical perspective, when the water reaches the gabion lines, it slows down its speed and directly pours down to the borehole and remains there. As a result, the gully is stabilized and the area is expected to return to normal. The installed gabion baskets are not expected to stop the water flow but rather slow down its velocity. During each rainy season, floods have caused the gully erosion to increase about 10 meters due to the fact that the soil is fragile and, therefore, readily collapses. Notably, the local community played a crucial role in gabion construction. They contributed their manpower and they also provided other necessary materials, including stones and water.

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 dollars. In recruiting the laborers, local community members were involved in the selection process 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. If it was not for this gabion line, the gully would have increased by a distance of 10 meters during each rainy season. The most strategic and valuable valley in Sanaag region situates in Jiidali village and the gully would have surely destroyed the valley. The gully erosion was also jeopardizing the main road that links Bosasa and Erigavo. Fortunately, that worry is coming to an end. 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.

Aftermath of Gabions construction in Jiidale Village

One of the most effective lessons learnt from this intervention is that the community was able to assess the aggravating threats they were facing, including the issues concerning the environment; they unanimously participated in the controlling measures, i.e. gabion lines construction, and henceforth monitored the progress made in close collaboration with the STORRE project team. On the other hand, the project’s ability to recruit participants for the cash for work activities from the most vulnerable and poor households enabled this group of people to have access to financial resources which contributed to alleviating the financial challenges they usually face.

 

CARE is implementing the Somalia towards Reaching Resilience (STORRE) project. The project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It is targeting communities in Badhan and Erigavo districts in the Sanaag region of Somalia. It aims to equitably increase the resilience of women and men in 4,240 households in 53 villages in the Sanaag region. It is doing this by increasing the understanding and capacity of households to landscape level risks and changes that undermine resilience. One of STORRE’s key tools for behavior change and dialogue is the Participatory Monitoring, Evaluation, Reflection and Learning (PMERL) process. This tool, in conjunction with the Climate Vulnerability and Capacities Analysis (CVCA), is designed to help communities evaluate the risks they face, articulate their own needs, assess their own adaptive capacities and assets, establish priorities of visions of change, monitor changes over time, and reflect on the progress and process.

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