Abdiwahid's farm protected from river erosion
Steep green hills, the streams that run through them, verdant farms, and wells with water are what strikes you when first approaching Heego during the rainy season. But all is not as good it seems, for although Heego is only 25 kilometres from Borama in Awdal Region, the road is bumpy and rugged and land degradation is rampant.
Over time, the land around the village has been deteriorating due to gully erosion. The rain-fed and irrigated farms that line the banks of the seasonal rivers. have been losing land each year as sudden rains carry the soil away. Even the feeder roads connecting Heego to the major towns have been affected by the floods.
To begin to deal with the loss of productive land in the area, the Ministry of Agricultural Development launched the Sustainable Land Management Project (SLMP) in Borama city in November 2021.This SDF-funded Project aims to improve the livelihoods, food security, and resilience of 20,000 people in the Durdur Ad Catchment area, which includes Heego, Dilla, Jaarahorato, and Bedembed villages. According to the ministry about 30% of Somaliland’s farmland is already considered to be highly degraded, and Heego is no exception.
"Our farm is located near the river that runs through Heego. In 2018, we lost approximately 100 metres of our farm in to the Sagar Cyclone and several more to rains that washed away the banks. We were worried that the entire farm would be washed away as the river's banks ate into the farm's side"
Abdiwahid Mohamed is one of the young farmers that has been inspired by the new project. After the death of his father, who managed the farm, he dropped out from school and contemplated leaving his village. But he then began farming on the land that had been left to him. His farm is one of the model farms that received watershed management assistance, including a 400-metre river bank protection wall built from local stone. Farmers in Heego are expected to copy the embankment to prevent further erosion and keep their farms productive.
Soon after work on the river embankment protection began, Abdiwahid and his older brother invested in the farm and are now harvesting fruit and vegetables, which they supply to Borama and occasionally even to Djibouti.
"We could supply more vegetables and fruit to Borama and beyond, but the rough roads make it difficult; it takes long hours to reach Borama, the nearest big town." If the roads were repaired, we could grow a lot of perishable crops, which would then increase our income," says Abdiwahid, who is optimistic about the future.
"I feel our farm is now protected from the flash floods and is worth investing in. In fact, I am already doing so.”, he adds.
Under the SLMP, the Ministry of Agricultural Development is planning to repair the worst parts of Heego-Borama road thereby improving farmers’ access to the free market as far as Borama and then to Hargeisa and beyond. The Ministry has also constructed an agricultural office in Heego to provide farmers with assistance and extension services to increase productivity and thus incomes.
As well as soil and water conservation measures. the Sustainable Land Management Project improves agronomic practice byintroducing high-yielding seeds, training farmers on crop production techniques, and conducting farmer schools.