Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Water harvests Water

Last week I was in Dar E Salaam District head quarter. Dar E Salaam is one of the districts of Somaliland. It is nearly 13 kilometres from Hargeisa, the Capital of Somaliland. I visited the health centre of Dar E Salaam with one of my colleague. We had meeting with the Traditional Birth Attendants, Community Health Committee members and Health staff of the Health Centre. My friends in the health centre suggested us to visit nearby farms. I was little surprised after hearing the word farm. With my all eagerness, I asked what they mean by farm. They said it’s a farm, Mango Farm. Out of my curiosity I decided to see the farm. I could not believe my eyes when I saw a green belt of trees and plenty of mango, Guava and lemon spreading all over under the trees.

Dar E Salaam has been a favourite place for most of the farmers inside and outside of the area. It is all because of available water in all the seasons. Farmers are successfully use ground water by water lift points and irrigate trees through pipe water irrigation system. Most of the trees in the farm are matured and some are even more than 20 years old. Each matured mango tree bears on an average 200 to 300 Kilograms of mango in a good harvesting season. An orchard of 25 to 30 trees is more than sufficient for a family to sustain livelihood.

But all areas of Somaliland are not fortunate enough as Dar E Salaam. Where farmers get enough water for the trees and animals. The question comes to my mind; can it be possible to have water for the agriculture and pastoral activities? Different study and development projects claim that small scale water harvesting structure can have increasing water security in the area. Water harvesting structures like sub-surface dams will be most effective in the areas. And also small scale water conservation methods like construction of check dams and contour and gully points will help to check rain water run off and restore water for pastoral use. It will also help in recharging the ground water. Though rain water harvesting structure and system is under developed and in very infant stage in the country. Very few demonstrated and effective model are available.

The general livelihoods of the people are mainly based on agro-pastoralism activities in the area. Development of livestock and agriculture is the main challenge before the people and Government. Sustaining and strengthening pastoral activities through proper management of natural resources is the concern for all. Large scale dry season migration has posed very negative impact for the both human and cattle population. In order to minimise large scale dry season migrations and to sustain agro-pastoral activities it is necessary to harvest and sustain water for consumption of human and cattle. Construction of more water bodies in the basins to harvest rain water could be one of the activities towards the same. With this increasing reservoir capacity would also help in drought mitigation and would reduce large scale migration. Community owned small watershed would definitely make differences in the sustaining livelihoods. Development agencies can work with the pastoral community on watershed management and natural resource management. Nature has not given us plenty but what ever is there if managed with sense and wisdom could bring changes in the life of people. It is sure that we could experience more like Dar E Salaam in near future.

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