Water dams build resilience for communities in Puntland

Dec 16, 2015

Dry seasons and water shortages have been a constant problem in the Puntland region of Somalia. Scarcity of water and the lack of rain restricts pastoralists who struggle to provide bare necessity to their livestock, which is their source of livelihood. Paying to use With UNDP’s Environment and Energy Project support, the Ministry of Environment and the Karkar region constructed a sand dam in Biygadud in Bander Bayla to help curb the effects of seasonal droughts and climate change for the Dhudo community. This dam, the first of its kind constructed in Puntland, was handed over to the community in November.

Water shortages in Puntland and across Somalia create an extreme lack of access and raised tensions in the community.  People in this area were forced to use berkades (traditional water catchments) which could cost $6 for essential water to feed their families and livestock, and the long journey was dangerous. In Somalia, less than 30% of the population have access to clean water – and in the worst conflict affected areas in the south, that drops to 20% . This reduces access to sanitation and hygeine, and increases the risks of waterborne diseases. Health problems due to unsafe water also puts extra burden on poor households as they have to spend major portion of their meager incomes to medicines.

Ahmed Gesod, is a livestock owner who was affected by the water shortages. “Water is life and our first priority, no one can survive without water,” he said. Mr. Gesod was thrilled with the dam construction as he will be able to save the money he used to be charged for water and put it towards other basic needs for his family.

The dam was strategically placed 75KM away from the Dhudo village between Bander Bayla and Dhudo, a central location where nomadic people and communities from a large swath of the area could access water supply for livestock and agriculture. With help from El Nino rainfalls, the dam was able to conserve nearly 40,000 cubic meters of water this year. That supply can last up to four to six months.

Building resilience to climatic events is critical for Somalia as the country stabilizes after decades of conflict and commits long-term development for its people Now, local authorities and communities own and manage their own water resources, and the berkades are improving access to water for local communities and their livestock at an affordable price.

Mr. Abdulkadir, the Governor of Karkar, is encouraged by the impact made by the construction of the dam. “I grew up here and remember water passing by the seasonal river. We would get water on the first day then have water runoff. We then would have to travel 25km to the closest water supply. I am happy to see that nomadic communities can now store water and live in the same area during dry seasons,” he said.

UNDP’s Environment Programme works with government and communities to ensure that Somali men and women benefit equally from improved natural resource management. With support from the Global Environment Facility Least Developed Countries Climate Fund, United Nations Environment Programme and Germany, UNDP works directly with communities to enhance climate resilience, particularly, against seasonal droughts and floods, improve access to renewable energy sources and disasters preparedness.

To ensure the sustainable use of natural resources and protection of the environment, UNDP draws on its institutional knowledge and expertise to improve awareness about the adverse impacts of climate change, enhance national capacities for sustainable management of natural resources, implement best environmental management practices that benefit Somalis (men and women) and demonstrate innovative renewable energy and energy efficient solutions.

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