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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Enhancing Climate Resilience of the Vulnerable Communities and Ecosystems in Somalia


    Programme Period: 2015-2018<br />
    Approximately 70% of Somalis are dependent on climate-sensitive agriculture and pastoralism. With floods and droughts becoming more severe and frequent affecting natural resources availability, Somalia is becoming more vulnerable to conflicts over scarce resources. The situation is exacerbated by the absence of policies on land-use and disaster risk management at the national level. At local levels, communities lack the financial, technical and informational resources needed to build resilience to climate change as well as the knowledge of how to prepare for extreme weather impacts.

    Objective of the practice

    The objective of the project was to enhance resilience and improve adaptive capacity of vulnerable Somali communities and the ecosystems on which they depend to the adverse impacts of climate change. The activities of the project are seen as innovative and have practically enhanced the capacities of government institutions and communities to implement measures of adaptation to climate change, particularly to floods and droughts. The project was first ever to construct a sand dam in Somalia during the reporting period. This innovative way of capturing the rain water and letting it seep into the wells for use during dry spells has been awarded as best practice by the government of Puntland.<br />
    The project implementation took place in an extremely challenging development context described by limited socio-economic development and diversification of livelihoods, unsustainable water and natural resource management practices, limited technical and operational capacities to support adaptation on national and local levels and the overall national instability and political disintegration. Focused on strengthening policies, institutional frameworks and government capacities and piloting ecosystem-based adaptation strategies to improve livelihoods of pastoralists and farmers, in close partnership with associated national institutions, community-based organizations and local communities the project reached the furthest behind to help to adapt livelihoods to climate variability and provide the basis from which other development strengthening endeavors can be built upon.<br />
    The project has also helped the national focal point to UNFCCC in preparing for the COP21. Project provided substantive support for the preparation of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions report of Somalia and helped the federal government in negotiations process and presenting Somalia plans to address challenges imposed due to climate change.

    Communities had a key role to prioritise needs, lead the selection process of respective beneficiaries, propose design of the physical infrastructure and engage in the implementation. Joint missions and field visits were held by UNDP, community representatives and ministries of environment in Somaliland and Puntland. Extensive consultations with indigenous pastoral and agro-pastoral communities to integrate traditional knowledge in the design and implementation of various interventions were held within the project. This led to finding innovative solutions for water harvesting and land management and innovative ways of constructing sand dams, rehabilitation of gullies and grazing reserves.
    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    The project assisted the government through a process of broad-based stakeholder consultations, analysis and consensus building to create ownership of the policies at various levels of government, within civil society and by the communities that are directly affected by the policy outcomes. In addition, the project worked with communities to develop plans for resource management and support them in analyzing and mitigating risks of conflict with surrounding communities and users. In close cooperation with civil society organizations, private sector and academia several workshops and training on climate change adaptation, early warning systems and capacity building were conducted targeted government officials and vulnerable communities. The trainings of government officials by the project on climate adaptation have proved to be very timely not only to sensitise the officials but also ensuring the climate change is considered as a key challenge in the 4 years National Development Plan for Somalia. UNDP and the federal government have moved forward climate change curriculum at university level. As Somali National University re-established itself, timely introduction of climate change curriculum helped in improving the qualifications of next generation of graduates on climate change issues. The key to successful implementation was a broad consultative design process for the policy, community mobilization and participation from the policy formulation stage, legal and regulatory frameworks, and clear roles and responsibilities. Moreover, implementation of climate adaptation activities jointly by the government institutions and communities helped in building the capacities, confidence as well as building ownership around project activities. Given the volatile situation in Somalia, the project management unit applied adequate monitoring framework, risk monitoring tools, and prudent adaptive management to meet the need to adjust budgets and work plans to fit to realities on the ground.

    The project has supported the formulation of policies, plans and tools at the national and sub-national levels, which are aimed at addressing the adverse effects of climate change and enabling sustainable natural resource management. Inter alia, the project enabled the inclusion of climate change adaption in the Resilience and Infrastructure Pillars of the National Development Plan, as well as developing the Drought Needs Impact Assessment/Recovery and Resilience Framework, with a clear focus on building resilience to climate change for medium to long-term recovery. The project provided essential support in dealing with the severe drought situations in the country, as the capacitated institutions - such as environment line ministries and disaster management agencies - played a vital role in early warning, disaster preparedness and coordination of drought response.
    At the community level, the project has carried out a number of activities that have increased the resilience of vulnerable population groups. Increased capacity to implement various adaptation techniques, such as, sand dams, water catchments, water conveyance systems, boreholes etc. for building resilience for the communities and eco-systems have also led to successful pilots, and these are generally considered models for replication. Project outputs have thus been noted by other development partners, including the World Bank and the African Development Bank, and led to increased investment in those areas.
    Specifically, the project substantially improved access and availability of water to vulnerable communities such as women, youth and the elderly in the pilot districts by construction of innovative medium scale water infrastructures. This has resulted in increased resilience of pastoral communities, who are most affected by the recurrent cycles of droughts and floods. The investments in the medium and large-scale water infrastructure, reforestation, flood-control infrastructure, and watershed were implemented to improve ecosystem resilience of critical watersheds, rangelands and forested areas through government support. Because of this integrated approach, over 19,453 women being the most vulnerable now have developed and or increased their awareness and knowledge of climate risks and adaptation responses, Additionally, 8,426 female headed households now have improved access to water and livelihoods. In addition, 1,313 people benefited from short term jobs, through the construction of water harvesting structures and ecosystem-based adaptation infrastructures in the Southern Central Regions of Somalia, Somaliland and Puntland. Finally, the project also conducted several workshops to improve awareness within the vulnerable communities - including elders and women - to strengthen coping mechanisms for climate change impact in the community and supported the national government including line ministries and disaster mandated institutions to prepare long term responsive strategies to climate change impact.
    Enabling factors and constraints
    The climate change resilience project provided resources for the first time in Somalia to address the issues of natural disasters linked to climate change. The project has been very effective in expanding the partnerships for better coordination and use of available resources. Somalia inclusion in IGAD Regional Climate Change Strategy has helped to learn from neighboring countries on response strategies to the cycles of droughts and floods. The project has been very instrumental in keeping all the administrative and political divides on-board during implementation.
    Somalia, having only recently joined the community of countries that receives grants from the GEF and LDCF, has a relatively fragmented institutional set up, and this first large scale GEF/LDCF project in the country, has also managed to convene Government institutions that do not normally work closely together, and take advantage of their respective comparative advantages and technical expertise. The has led to constructive dialogue, as well as information sharing, which was not happening previously.
    Overall, the project received appreciation by the national stakeholders during strategic review meetings and very specific requests were received to scale up the adaptation interventions across all regions of Somalia.
    Sustainability and replicability
    The project was designed to be sustainable at village, district and at national levels by building capacity at all levels. It supported community-based organizations (CBOs) to assist with Natural Resource Management (NRM)-focused activity implementation and it established district-based Disaster Management Committees to be responsible for disaster preparedness and climate change adaptation at the local level. Through reinforcing the capacity of government CBOs, they became empowered to replicate project activity developments (reforestation, water diversions, gabion construction, etc) in adjacent communities.
    Great attention was paid in the project design to ensure that lessons are replicable, sufficient training builds the capacity to transfer expertise to other initiatives, and that necessary replication mechanisms are in place. Agro-Pastoral Field Schools were established to demonstrate best land and water use practices. Similarly, the water diversion and mobilization techniques chosen can be easily transferred to other parts of the country and supported by Cash for Work. Women entrepreneurial groups were also supported to market gender-appropriate adaptation technologies so that such technologies can easily be adopted throughout the rural regions of Somalia.
    Capacity development of the implementing partners on adaptation techniques, such as, sand dams, water catchments, water conveyance systems, boreholes etc. for building resilience for the communities and eco-systems are serving as models for replication. The project is viewed to be pioneering and paving the way for larger investments by other development partners such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

    The project has made substantial contribution of tackling the climate change issues with innovative solutions. The concept of sand dams was new for Somalia, where traditionally the water storage was in small reservoirs. The sand dams were designed by the project to control the flow of runoff from the seasonal streams by constructing a dyke and letting the water seep through the sandy river beds. The runoff then becomes sub-surface water that is used by the communities by digging wells during dry seasons. This innovation is now being replicated by other development organisations, including projects funded by the World Bank. At the policy level, the project helped Federal Government of Somalia in getting due recognition as a critical country of the region facing negative impacts of climate change. Somalia was included in the regional strategy on climate change through the efforts of the project. By strengthening and implementing climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction at the local and national level, the project helped create a more climate-resilient nation, prevented humanitarian crisis from its further development and protected the greening shoots of peace that point to a brighter future for the people of Somalia.

    Financing (in USD)
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    Name Description
    Action Network
    SDG Good Practices First Call
    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    01 January 2015 (start date)
    01 December 2018 (date of completion)
    1. Africa
    Geographical coverage
    Federal Government of Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland
    Website/More information
    Contact Information

    Iuliia Isaeva, Climate Change Specialist