In the Gedo region of Somalia, water from seasonal streams runs freely in the Dawa and Jubba rivers. Communities and Internally Displaced persons (IDPs) who live along these streams live in abject poverty. They lack resources and skills to utilize the water during rainy seasons to better their lives.
In mid 2009, UNDP initiated a three-month project under the Employment Generation for Early Recovery (EGER) in Beled Hawo and Elwak District in the Gedo region. The project focused on the construction of two flood control dykes on the Buray stream near Khadijo Haji village.
Khadijo Haji village lies about 3km west of the border of Kenya and Somalia and 40km south of Beled-Hawo town.
The construction of the two dykes on the Buray stream has transformed Khadijo Haji village. The dykes have effectively controlled flooding and thereby contributed to increased food production for the pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in the hinterland of the Gedo Region.
The Employment Generation for Early Recovery Project also rehabilitated a road at a crossing point at Farwaley village on the Buray stream and rehabilitated 2 earth pans at Likoley
and Nusdariiq villages in Elwak district. The project provided employment to 1,794 IDPs and poor households living in the four targeted villages (Khadija Haji, Toga Farwale, Nusdariiq, and Likooley).
It employed 1120 unskilled laborers that were grouped into two with 560 persons in each group who worked for 24 and 28 days respectively. In addition, it created employment for 10 masons and 56 foremen from the local communities. On the long term, there was the emergence of semi-permanent structures now used for petty trading, which in turn has encouraged farming and reduced migration of communities and livestock. The project activitiesprovided a platform for raising awareness on pertinent issues in the community such as peace building, personal hygiene, HIV/AIDS, and environmental protection.
Up along the Buray stream is a place called Jinni Kalax Darsa. Beyond the Jinni Kalax Darsay, the community identified two locations for construction of dykes to help retain more water for drinking, pasture and farming. The dykes have reduced water movement in the stream during the rainy season, raised level of water, and allowed water to spread to the outlying rain-fed farms and grazing pastures.
The construction of the dykes created employment for 180 laborers. They were engaged for a period of 52 days undertaking various tasks such as collection of stones, digging, filling the gabion boxes and backfilling of excavated material. The workers supported their families with income generated from this project. Locals, particularly women IDPs setup food kiosks targeting the laborers and the community. These small businesses are sustained by improved income from flood-irrigated farming.
The dykes have caused retention richer minerals-laden soils, making the area suitable for growing a variety of crops, hence improvement in food security. Areas that have not been farmed for almost 20 years are now under cultivation. During the rainy season this year, 1200 hectares of land was irrigated by the flash floods.
A majority of residents farm maize, cowpeas, simsim, watermelon and sorghum. An average farm per household is between 1.2 ha and 3.5 ha. They harvest between 7 and 35 bags of maize with cowpeas, simsim or watermelon, enough to feed the household and sell in the market.
Grazing pastures that have grown in the flooded Buray area have lasted longer leading to the return of migrated livestock. Environmental degradation and insufficient water in the area has always resulted in migration of livestock by pastoralists. A large number of pastoralists are now leading sedentary settled lives. They are slowly turning into agro-pastoralists.
EGER project has a positive effect on Khadijo Haji village. The community is currently creating structures for lasting peace and governance. The village is currently attracting major business enterprises such as Hormuud Telecom. Hormuud has already installed a communications tower in the village to provide phone services to the residents of Khadijo Haji.
The UNDP’s Employment Generation for Early Recovery Project seeks to create income and jobs for vulnerable groups such as women, youth, and IDPs and their host communities in South Central Somalia.