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Trade Aid Boxes for Communities in Batalaale and Biyo Guure (Sahil Region) - Somaliland

PENHA works with pastoral, agro-pastoral and farming communities across Somaliland. In 2016, PENHA began working with the communities of Batalaale and Biyo Guure, near the port of Berbera, in the Sahil Region.

Over 2016 and 2017, the region has been hit hard by an exceptionally severe drought. As part of a broader humanitarian response, PENHA and the UN’s FAO are conducting cash-for-work projects, in which local people are paid to build infrastructure that supports livelihoods and long-term development. People don’t want to live on handouts. They want to work and they want to be self-reliant. Trade Aid’s “livelihood in a box” concept is highly appreciated. One of the challenges identified in cash-for-work projects has been the very poor quality of tools available – shovels and handtools break easily.

In the coastal village of Batalaale, pastoralists depend on sales of camel milk and live animals to markets in nearby Berbera town. They are keen to diversify their incomes, and to make sure that the next generation has a wider set of skills and economic options. But, the local Koranic school, recently established, is little more than a hut with a few chairs and tables. The school’s teacher gratefully received two Trade Aid “Teacher” boxes. Carpentry and “Builder” boxes will help to improve existing buildings, and the village head will seek out local people who have the necessary skills and can establish new small enterprises using the tools provided. The invasive tree species Prosopis juliflora has taken over much of the grazing land in the Batalaale area. Prosopis was seen as a curse until recently, but its nutritious pods have helped the camels to survive the drought, and its wood can be used to make furniture and charcoal. The tools provided by Trade Aid will prove useful here.

In Biyo Guure, which literally means “flowing water”, spring water in the hills has enabled the development of farming, promoted in the first half of the 20th Century by the British administration. The British established structures to channel water onto farms and introduced new crops, including date palms. Now, farms in the area supply a variety of crops, including tomatoes, onions and fruits. Biyo Guure tomatoes are valued for their unique taste, which is related to the area’s salty and mineral-rich soils and water. Prosopis juliflora has invaded the farms, posing a major problem. Tools and skills are needed to uproot seedlings and manage prosopis bushes and trees. The German government’s development agency, GIZ, has recently set up a project in the area. GIZ wants to promote dairy farming and has also provided funds to establish a school. PENHA recently conducted a socio-economic assessment for GIZ, covering the area, and made recommendations for livelihoods support projects. The Trade Aid boxes fit right in with all of this. Biyo Guure also has an organized women’s group, which has been very important in driving development initiatives and economic diversification. The group was happy to receive a tailoring and dressmaking toolkit.  

PENHA appreciates the support it receives from Trade Aid, which complements a number of its projects. PENHA also collaborates closely with the Ministry of Environment & Rural Development in all its work. The Ministry’s Regional Coordinator, Fadumo Roble, participated in community events to hand over the tools. She urged local people to make good use of the tools provided, and asked village heads to ensure that the tools go to individuals and groups who can establish profit-making enterprises that sustain themselves.

Fadumo also noted that the pick-axes, handsaws and axes provided were perfect for uprooting prosopis seedlings and pruning prosopis bushes into tall trees that consume less water. The events were covered by the Somaliland National Television station. The link for the news item is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Do6lf24oXM&feature=youtu.be

PENHA will be carrying out a series of projects to address the impact of the drought. The emphasis will be on environmental management, with water harvesting and soil conservation, as well as on controlling the spread of prosopis. In all this work, it is important to have good tools. The need for more and better tools and equipment is something that PENHA intends to address at the program and policy levels.