In May 2018, Cyclone Sagar stormed across the Gulf of Aden and made landfall in Somaliland, disrupting the lives of over 670,000 people. Six months later, efforts to restore livelihoods are finally starting to show results.

“On that night, strong winds tore the ceiling apart and broke some of the wooden branches of our hut. We were forced to move to a nearby school for shelter,” says 39-year-old Rahma, a mother of four children. Her house in Baki village was destroyed during the storm. The huge floods washed away their farmland and killed her goats.

Read also: We survived Cyclone Sagar

The cyclone caught many farmers unprepared. After months of drought, cyclone rains were sudden and fierce, lasting only hours but pounding ruthlessly on their weak structures. Rough wind flattened crops, and floods swept across fields and homes. 

Irrigation systems in Ruqi village were destroyed, and in just under 48 hours of unrelenting storms, farmers who had been optimistic about their progress, watched in horror as their efforts went to waste.

Lifting farmers from crisis

A new initiative named ‘Sharp Uplift Project’, launched in June 2018 in Somaliland, is gradually reversing the negative effects of Sagar through a simple, affordable and highly effective response technique. The project is supported by a consortium called Building Resilient Communities in Somalia (BRCiS) with funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID). 

Farmers have received land ploughing services and seeds for planting from the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). In addition, a cash boost of 110 US dollars per household provided through the resilience programming is meant to boost their purchasing power, and so enhancing their ability to reinvest in their farms. We also installed solar panels and water pumps to some farmers to enable them to recover and get back on their feet.

Read also: Cash aid helps rebuild lives in Somaliland

Life across villages that bore the brunt of the cyclone is starting to improve. “Crops are growing, and farms are beginning to look promising again. Now my family and community at large are gaining hope, and perhaps after two months, we will have enough food,” says Hamud, an elderly farmer in Baki village. 

Meanwhile, we are rehabilitating the communal irrigation weirs and canals to improve the flow of water and prevent flooding. Motivated by the drive for an integrated response, we involve the Somaliland Ministry of Agriculture to ensure such efforts have the full support of the government. “We have a responsibility to provide support in reconstructing damaged canals to restore livelihoods and protect people from vulnerability,” said Hon. Ahmed Mumin of Somaliland Ministry for Agriculture during a recent visit to Ruqi village.

The resilience approach adopted by BRCiS provides assistance that improves the absorptive and adaptive capacities of households and communities at large,” says Muhyidin Khalif, our livelihood manager in Somaliland.

Norwegian Refugee Council