UtviklingsfondetSupports small scale farmers in their fight against hunger and poverty

Somalia

The Development Fund is engaged in strengthening food security and building resilience to drought.

This we do by increasing agricultural production, improving livestock management and water harvesting. We work with five local partners (NGOs): Candlelight, HAVOYOCO, ADO, MADO and KAAOLO that implements the program.

Our program in Somalia started in 2009. We have mostly worked in Somaliland, but now we are also active in Puntland. There are several notable features of Northern Somalia’s economy: The semi-arid environment, pastoralism, livestock exports and Diaspora remittances. There is also an entrepreneurial spirit and a strong private sector, with exceptionally low foreign participation.

Somalia is a predominantly pastoral country. Semi-mobile livestock keeping is the mainstay of the economy, providing livelihoods and employment for some 55-60% of the population, and generating substantial revenues from exports of live animals to the Gulf.

In 2016-2017 Somalia has been hit by a severe drought which has affected our work. In march 2017 our program coordinator Alice Ennals was interviewed by the britsh newspaper The Guardian about the situation.

Our work focuses on the following themes: Water supply, Natural Resource Management and Climate Adapted Villages, Seeds and Community Seed Banks, Livestock and Community Animal Health Workers, Agriculture and nutrition, Women’s Saving and loans group, Cooperatives and gender equality, Diaspora involvement

Water supply

Water is a challenge to all production and life in Somalia. Water harvesting from existing rainwater coming from the Gu and Deyr rainfalls is important. The program builds and rehabilitates sub-surface dams (sand dams) in seasonal rivers; cisterns (berkads); shallow wells and roof-water harvesting. Dams and ponds are often lined with plastic and can retain water for 6-8 months. Solar-driven water-pumps are used to increase land under cultivation with drip-irrigation systems.

Controlling floods with water diversions, canals and spate-irrigation is also important technologies.


Safe and stable access to water is a challenge to all agricultural production in Somalia. The Development Fund supports sub-surface dams, shallow wells, roof water harvesting av cisterns (picture). The cistern in the picture is completed with funnel shaped walls to lead surface water to the underground tank.

Natural Resource Management and Climate Adapted Villages

Rains and floods can also be damaging. Therefore, it is important to build flood-protection walls so that seasonal rivers do not erode agricultural lands alongside riverbanks. Likewise, soil bunds stop gully formation and hinder soil erosion.

“Participation” is a core principle of our work. Therefore, communities themselves carry out a vulnerability assessment and identify what environmental problems are at stake. From this, they make a plan of action, and receive adaptation funds and support to start tackling the problem. This method is referred to as “Climate Adapted Village Method (CAV)” which the Development Fund has used since 2010. It was originally designed to build the capacity of communities, and to reduce their vulnerability towards slow-onset of climate change. (make hyperlink to CAV document.). The core elements of the method are: “To know”, “to do” and “to sustain”, or in Somali this is “Ogow” “Qabo” and “Joogtayn”. (insert picture from CAV training).

Seeds and Community Seed Banks

In Somalia, there are many challenges related to seed supply, quality and availability for poor farmers. With partners and Ethiopia Organic Seed Association (EOSA) The Development Fund carried out a Rapid Seed Security Assessment (pdf) in Somaliland in 2014. This became the start of two Community Seed Banks. Before this, there were no seedbanks in Somaliland. Today, one is situated in Gabiley district (Galoley), and the other in Toghdeer (Beer). Both areas are known for their agricultural potential. The community seed banks have the long-term goal of making high-quality seed available and affordable to most farmers in Somaliland. Crop and seed diversity are also emphasized – not just sorghum and maize, but tomatoes and onions, legumes, pulses and oil crops which are also important in Somali diets.

The seed bank has a management committee, chaired by a local farmer. Farmers group receive both technical and management training. Seeds that are drought and disease tolerant as well as high yielding are identified and tested. Farmers access seeds from community seed bank, and re-pay with 20% extra seeds.

Example of result: The 2015 pervasive drought in western region resulted in almost total crop failure. The Galoley community seed bank became the only available seed source which supplied extinct seeds. The Somaliland Ministry of Agriculture, INGOs, business companies and farmers borrowed and purchased seeds. Today (2017) the Galoley community seed bank supplies more than 300 farmers with seeds.

Read news article about our work with seed banks (in Norwegian).

Livestock and Community Animal Health Workers

In each community a female and a male animal health worker is trained, using the curriculum from the Ministry of Livestock. After ended training the animal health workers receives a Start-Up Kit with animal drugs and medical equipment and return to their communities. They render services and administer the use of medicines in exchange for some fees. They have a new job, with an income. They are responsible for re-stocking drugs when supplies run out. To train female animal health workers is important, as they are are better able at reaching female beneficiaries.

Agriculture and nutrition

In addition to accessing better seeds, land preparation is important. Farmers invest in tillage and constructing soil bunds on their agricultural lands. Soil bunds increases water penetration into the soil and increases moisture and fertility.

Furthermore, training in agricultural skills such as intercropping and pest-management, as well as nutrition awareness is integrated into the program.

Women’s Saving and loans group, cooperatives and gender equality

The primary purpose of these groups is to provide women with a means of saving money and borrowing when they need cash. It is an important platform for women’s involvement in a range of development activities, in social affairs as well as in small enterprises.

The women pay a membership fee to be part of a cooperative. The group has it’s own savings, and there is a rotating system handling funds. The women also receive financial and literacy training. Grants or loans from the group help the women establish or expand small enterprises individually or jointly.

The groups give women a greater voice in local affairs. In some villages, the fact of having women sit alongside Village Development Committee members, and contribute their views in a formal manner, is a significant achievement.

Damaging cultural practices, such as female genital mutilation (FGM) continues to be an issue that must be adressed. Our Partner Candlelight has information campaigns to raise awareness on the damaging effects of FGM, and they can see that the practice is in decline. Read more in this news article (in Norwegian).


Womens cooperative in Somaliland supported by the Development Fund.

Diaspora involvement

An innovative aspect of the program is the involvement of Norway-based Diaspora groups. The Somali community is the biggest African community in Norway numbering about 24.000 immigrants and about 9000 born in Norway to Somali parents.

The Development Fund started collaborating with Somali diaspora organisations in 2012. We have had a match-making scheme with Batalaale, SAMO-Norway, Odweyne V.C. and Sumbul-Norway. In the period 2012-2016 these organizations have contributed with 20% of the costs of the Diaspora projects in Somaliland - about 1,2 million NOK.

Key activities are:

  • Establishing school gardens with water supply and green technology
  • Supporting women business groups and communities
  • Initiating business programs for graduates from Beer Agricultural College, Odweyne College and Haahi School.
  • Skill exchange with diaspora (read more in Norwegian).

Read more:
Diaspora involvement in foreign aid (news article in Norwegian)


In 2015 we published a report on Diaspora and development, with cases from Somalia. Download it here (in Norwewgian)