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Supporting communities in Somaliland to “make garanwaa make money”

A new PENHA programme in Somaliland funded by FAO started in June 2017. It is now having positive impacts on livelihoods through direct employment, and it will offer long term opportunities by providing appropriate tools and training for the development of sustainable small businesses… and all this from making use of the ‘useless’ and weedy garanwaa (prosopis) tree…? How is that possible?

Wood makes charcoal. And charcoal makes money. Everyone uses charcoal. Large prosopis branches and roots make excellent charcoal, and traders from Arabian Peninsula countries are actively looking for suppliers…

Prosopis pods make animal feed. And in Somaliland there is either no livestock feed at all, or it is very expensive. But to become a protein-rich feed, the seed in the pods must be ground into flour, otherwise the seeds pass undigested through the animal, and grow from the dung as new weedy trees…

And “there are an estimated 550,000 hectares of prosopis in Somaliland”, said Ugo Leonardi of FAO-SWALIM at a PENHA/MoERD workshop in Hargeisa in May 2016, co-author of a country-wide study using satellite data. Equivalent to 5,500 square kilometres, that area can sure make a lot of charcoal… And it will keep growing back, of course, and is destined to become a new renewable resource for Somaliland.

Project activities underway and planned in Berbera, Burao and Odweyne, 2017-2018 (as of November 2017)

- 1600 vulnerable households benefitting directly through short term employment

- 300 vulnerable households to benefitting directly through unconditional cash transfers

  • 19 community awareness meetings held on the benefits from prosopis management and use
  • 50 community community trainers/supervisors trained
  • 1600 people in Berbera, Burao and Odweyne equipped with hand tools and gloves, provided with short term employment, and trained in how to ‘make garanwaa make money’.
  • 10 cooperatives trained in business skills and how to make money from processing prosopis pods and wood for charcoal.
  • 10 cooperatives to be provided with hammer mills and pole saws, and trained in their use.
  • 5 feeding trials to be conducted to test the nutritional value of prosopis pod flour feed rations
  • 100 traders and other value chain actors, and representatives from local NGOs, CSOs and universities to be invited to attend a ‘Prosopis trade and knowledge fair’.

In June 2017, the PENHA team visit the project districts of Odweyne, Burao and Berbera, and held 16 community awareness meetings. Prosopis products and basic stand and tree management techniques were demonstrated. And this had the desired impact. Many people, from local government to local communities, came in to the meetings saying at first that prosopis was a terrible weed and that they wanted it eradicated. But after the meetings, they left saying that they now believed that it could be managed and used to make money, and they wanted to be a part of the project. 

In July, a large PENHA team received training from FAO on how to collect the necessary biometric data for each worker, the reporting required, and how to ensure that payments were made correctly and promptly. In August the final list of workers and additional recipients of unconditional cash transfers were approved by FAO for two of the districts,

In September, hand tools (mattocks, bow saws and rakes) and strong gloves to protect against the thorns were distributed to two sites in Odweyne and six in Berbera.

In October, money began to be transferred to the pockets of some of the most vulnerable people in the target areas, with the start of unconditional cash transfers. And two 3-day training courses for community trainers, and two 2-day business training courses for producing prosopis animal feed and charcoal were run in Odweyne and Berbera districts. These were supported by fliers and posters explaining the basic principles of making money from prosopis pods and wood in four simple steps, in English and Somali.

In November, cash-for-work activities began in Berbera and Odweyne district, and a three-day training course for community trainers was conducted in Burao.

The project is well underway and people are beginning to benefit. But there is yet much to do, to turn these early successes into sustainable businesses that will make money from prosopis in the long-term

To read the full programme update report click here.

Photo credits: PENHA Somaliland 

PENHA – the Pastoral and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa, is a UK-based NGO that was established in 1989. This project, funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is managed through the PENHA-Somaliland office in Hargeisa.

For more information: contact Sadia Ahmed, Director of PENHA-Somaliland (+252 634427170)

or Amsale Shibeshi, PENHA- Regional Coordinator (


Read also the following prosopis related documents. 

Flier, wood – English

Flier, pods – English

Flier, wood – Somali

Flier, pods – Somali

For other materials see also: 

2016 info-brief – English

2016 info-brief – Somali


Demonstrating the ‘high pruning’ of prosopis trees in Bulahar Showing examples of commercial prosopis production from around to villagers in Gerri, and the women especially enjoyed tasting the pod flour and syrup.