Somalia’s Grasslands: A Threatened National Treasure

by admin | Thursday, Jun 11, 2015

Grasslands are environments in which grasses and grass like plants dominate the vegetation. Grasslands once covered up to 25 to 40 percent of the earth’s land surface, but many of these grasslands have been plowed for crop production. Losing a piece of a grass land has a significant meaning to pastoral communities, and it is that they are witnessing the first signs of drought. Grasses has a great capacity of retaining water which otherwise would have become part of runoff.

Geographically Somalia belong s to savannah grassland (or semi arid grassland) and historically our livelihood depended on livestock, in fact no other nation on the planet has such an acute dependency on livestock than Somalia. Unless we exploit that sector of the economy the shape of our nation will not be perfect.

When the rain comes, will your soil be ready? Management of grasslands is paramount to the health of our soil and water resources. Recently, conservationists with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in South Dakota have been studying the effects that management has on soil properties, such as infiltration, and the results are dramatic. Studies like these show that infiltration is significantly impacted by the management practices being implemented on the land.

The main problem which threatened our grasslands and continuing to happen is that people are not adapted to use the so called “Planned Grazing”. This will encourage Optimisation of nutrient cycling and soil quality for sustainable grasslands.Grassland

Grasses are useful to animals. Grazing mammals, such as cattle, sheep, and goats, eat grass leaves. Many birds and rodents feed on grass seeds—and so do people. Wheat, rice, corn (maize), barley, oats, millet, and sorghum are all grasses. So are sugarcane and bamboo. Grasslands cover nearly fifty percent of the land surface of the continent of Africa. And almost half of the population are dependent directly or indirectly on livestock for their livelihood

Visiting Somalia last summer and giving a closer look to the rural population, I realized that people are working very hard and eager to develop their life, but they do not have enough knowledge to cope with the existing problem facing their livelihood. The way the raise their livestock is similar as it was 100 years ago, as they rely on seasonal rain, which sometimes doesn’t come on time, hence anxiety and uncertainty of the future are the main concern.

Recent natural disasters remind us of our society increasing vulnerability to the consequences of flood, drought, creating social disorder pressing down the fragile peace. One can imagine economic and technical interdependence and environmental change that may arise in such circumstances. Assessment of risk and uncertainty is crucial for natural hazard management, both in the evaluation of strategies to increase resilience and in facilitating risk communication and successful mitigation.

It has been estimated that as a result of natural disaster, during 1970s and 1980s three million lives were lost world wide, the number of disasters increased threshold the economic losses per decade doubled and insurance losses quadrupled. In the light of these figures and in the knowledge that the technology capability existed to forecast and mitigate natural hazard, the United Nations proclaimed in the 1990s as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR). The objective of IDNDR is to reduce through concert action, in developing countries, the loss of life, property damage and social and economic disruption caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes, storms, volcanoes, drought and floods

The magnitude of a disaster varies from country to another, but prolonged drought is the most acute human tragedy causing famine, which most of the time ends in an inescapable delusion. When drought is felt in the developed nations it does not cause famine as it happens in the third world, the reason for that is that they are well prepared

Despite the emerging technology, our strategic location, and our knowledge we Somalis are incapable of solving the most crucial problem facing the nation.

From a hydrological perspective, to speak of drought management in Somalia while we are still in this excessively generous autumn sometime in the past might appear a topic of scarce relevance. Especially since it has been preceded by two years of rainfall whose mean is very superior to the average annual values. Consequently, the current circumstances allow us to consider concluded the extraordinary dry period that was existent in Somalia between July 2011 and mid 2012. However it is now a timely moment, without any sense of hurry or need for agitation, to reflect on what happened in order to avoid the repetition of those events.

It would be unreasonable to forget a drought that provoked, over several years, temporary restrictions and interruptions in drinking water supply to more than five million Somali’s and which was threatening to exhaust, in the summer of 2011, the scarce water reserves that remained. Happily it rained during the following subsequent spring (gu’). But, on this point we should insist, it would be irresponsible to forget the frequent past droughts which may occur again.

Preparing yourself before it happens Contingency planning before a shortage occurs allows for the selection of appropriate responses consistent with the varying severity of shortages. Effective programs occur when water suppliers start demand reduction programs before a severe shortage develops. If demand reduction programs are delayed, reserve supplies may be depleted early in an extended shortage, causing unnecessary social and economic harm to the communities. A Water Shortage Contingency Plan (WSCP) enables a water supplier to assess the risks and reduce the vulnerability of a community to drought impacts and to establish priorities that will provide water for public health and safety and minimize impacts on economic activity, environmental resources, and the region’s lifestyle

Check list:

  • Grow more alfalfa grass, Sudan grass, at the bank of the river and store for drought season( over produce  grasses during prosperous season and be constant alert for a coming drought)
  • Make infrastructure to allow livestock to move quickly from one place to another
  • Utilize your land 100% know the allocation of your ground water. Don’t get thirsty while standing on water

Look how our population utilizes its land and you have different scenario, where by a growing population with an increased tendency in migrating to the cities, without adequate skills to survive, could damage existing urban communities and disrupt social order. How can the nation can create a new job, while half of the population are deserting an existing jobs, the livestock sector for example a livelihood for centuries has not been improved and remain the same without a tangible improvement . The government has few home grown human resources to reclaim its dignity; in fact most of the jobs used to support the bulk of the population has been deserted and discouraged by either the government itself  or other people through corruption getting richer without a clear transparency to demonstrate their richness.

The format of Somali economy for the last 15 years was an import oriented business fueled by foreign remittance sent by people living abroad. Such imbalance of export import will not produce a healthy sustainable economy. We lack strong middle class capable of utilizing their resources whether it is human or natural.

The flow of money during that period would have covered the nation’s entire infrastructure, and basic social needs if would have been sent on a national scale, instead of sending single families.

This nation is recovering slowly socially and economically and requires another 20 years to rebuild its young generation educating and teaching them what is the nationhood which looks far behind the world standard. The national anthem is not familiar to many youngsters who were born during the civil war but instead the know and can differentiate the sounds of the guns

Mohamud Haji Elmi, UK   London


Hiiraan Net

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