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Hodan supervises community-built soil bunds

Hodan Abdi Jama, 35, is a mother of eight children, who she is raising on her own after her husband began ailing two years ago. They lived happily for many years with her working as a housewife and her husband working as a casual worker and loader for development organizations in Jaarahorato, Dilla district.

"When my husband’s health deteriorated and we had no one else to help us, I stepped out of my house to find work and support my family financially,”  Hodan says.

Large soil bunds Jaarahorato

Fortunately, in early 2022, Hodan was among the 20 women selected under the community labour scheme by the Agricultural Development Organization (ADO), a local NGO contracted under the SDF-funded Ministry of Agriculture Development (MoAD) Sustainable Land Management Project (SLMP). ADO implements the SLMP’s soil and water conservation activities in the Awdal region, particularly areas like Dilla, Jaarahorato, Bedembed and Heego. Among the activities are the construction of 500 km of large soil bunds near the farms and 30,000 semi-circular bunds to retain water and halt soil erosion in order to increase farmers’ productivity. Furthermore, water sources in these areas are rehabilitated for the communities to harvest water during rainy seasons.

Hodan has been assigned a supervisory role during the construction of soil bunds and semi-circular structures in Jaarahorato. She and her team go to site every morning to monitor the progress, check the quality and evaluate the casual workers against set targets.

Hodan Abdi during soil bund construction monitoring at one of the sites in Jaarahorato

As this is her first paid job, she describes how the support came at the right time. “We receive money every month. I spend most of the money on basic family needs, debt repayment, keeping the kids in school and gaining the trust of the village shoppers, who are willing to lend me money again.”

Hodan intends to start a small livestock business after receiving the money this month, first purchasing three goats, selling them, and purchasing more. “One of the ways this project benefited me was that it improved my social skills; I now know many people in my community. If this ends, I know how to find work in my community,” says Hodan.

Basra Mumin, who is also in Hodan’s team and does similar work in another part of Jaarahorato, talks about how the project has been beneficial to the village of Jaarahorato: ”Aside from the construction of soil bunds and other soil and water conservation structures to improve farmers’  production, it  has provided an employment opportunity to this community during the most difficult time of the drought and many  people received money from community labour activities, so it was a win-win situation.”

Basra Muminsupervising another soil bund construction site in Jaarahorato

"Nearly 1,000 people in Jaarahorato work on the construction of soil bunds under the community labour scheme," says Yasin Nur, an ADO community mobilizer. “It is the major project that is currently ongoing in these areas," he added enthusiastically.

Soil and water conservation management is part of the SDF-funded Sustainable Land Management project launched in November 2021 in Borama, Awdal region. The project will provide improved food security and income to 20,000 agro-pastoralists in the Awdal region, as well as conserve 10,000 hectares of land through soil and water conservation, making it more fertile and capable of supporting both agricultural and pastoral activities for a longer period.