Farmers in low-lying villages in Somaliland’s Awdal region have collaborated on a homegrown solution to stop erosion and flooding that has hampered their farm production and livelihoods for nearly two years.

Ahmed Mohamed Roble planted salad, peppers, and onions on his five-hectare farm in Jarahoroto for the first time in a year, after the farmers’ association organised construction of a network of soil barriers to keep flood waters out and prevent soil being washing away.

It has rained five times since Ahmed planted on 25 July and his farm has remained intact.

“I couldn’t have done it alone, we collaborated with other farmers, and we have seen good results so far. The farm has changed for the better now,” he told Radio Ergo triumphantly.

“The job we did returns the fertility of the land and prevents flooding. Today, we have found a solution for a long-standing problem. We were all affected equally by the floods.”

Ahmed, a father of 10, is hoping to harvest in October and repay the $40 he borrowed.

Another farmer in Jarahoroto, Ali Abdi Odawaa, said he planted in August after being convinced that his four-hectare farm was now well protected from flooding. He had not planted for a year and a half.

As a father of six, Ali is waiting for his maize, beans and wheat to be harvested so that he can stop depending on a relative who has been helping them out.

The chairman of the local farmers’ association, Ali Hassan Adan, told Radio Ergo that recurrent flooding had forced farmers to abandon 1,500 hectares of land in Jarahoroto, Admadooni and Geed Diqsi.

“We didn’t think this would help against the floods at first, but when we saw how effective it actually was we decided to construct more soil barriers. We are not stopping anytime soon until we finish creating soil barriers for all the farms,” he said.

Farms in these villages rely on rainfall for irrigation and the main livelihood for families is farm production. Ali Hassan Adan said their initiative began in May and they have so far managed to prevent flooding on eighty per cent of the vulnerable farms, through construction of 4,500 soil barriers in the three villages. Some of the farms had to be walled off on more than one side to protect the land.

Work is assigned to farmers who put in three days a week to constructing the one-metre high barriers. They are moving from one farm to another using farming implements such as hoes and spades to pile the soil to block points where water usually floods across the farmland.