The World Bank said it has approved a 70 million U.S. dollar International Development Association (IDA) grant to develop resilient water, agriculture, and environmental services for rural communities in Somalia’s drylands.
The Somalia Water for Rural Resilience Project, known as “Barwaaqo” and builds on the Biyoole project, comes at a critical time when Somalia is facing an unprecedented multi-season drought and worsening food insecurity.
World Bank Senior Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist Chantal Richey said the Barwaaqo project will integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation measures and will support the strengthening of natural resources management.
“This includes water harvesting and storage, soil conservation, afforestation, and rangelands restoration around water points to slowly ‘green’ the drylands,” Richey was quoted as saying in a statement issued on Thursday evening.
The World Bank said the project will expand services in Somaliland, Puntland, Galmudug, and the South West States while expanding to include two additional federal member states, Hirshabelle and Jubbaland, where the project will focus on the areas situated away from the floodplains of the Shabelle and the Jubba rivers.
It said this project will provide water to 500,000 people, representing approximately 15 percent of the rural population, who currently only have access to limited services and unimproved or surface water.
Kristina Svensson, World Bank country manager for Somalia, said the Barwaaqo project supports communities to build resilience and adapt to climate change by improving access to water resources in a dryland environment.
The World Bank said environmental challenges, exacerbated by climate change over the years, have contributed to the degrading of over a quarter of Somalia’s territory, and that coupled with deforestation and loss of soil, rural livelihoods are under threat.
These challenges, along with droughts, it said, also cause pastoralists to lose their livestock, their main source of wealth and income, while farmers and agro-pastoralists lose their harvest, which is their main source of food.