Somalia: Early warning system helps farmers survive floods and droughts
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has helped set up the Drought Operations Coordination Center in Garowe, which issues warnings to communities facing flooding and droughts, particularly farmers and herders. Abdullahi Abdirahman, General Manager of Puntland’s Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Agency (HADMA), which runs the centre, explains what happens when they get advance notice of a flood: “We send warnings to communities living by streams and in low-lying areas and raise awareness through radio, TV and SMS messages.” In 2017, when floods came to Qarxis village, about 60km from Garowe, the system saved lives. “We received a message from HADMA on our mobile phones,” says Jama Mohamed Elmi, an elderly resident of Qarxis. The message warned of severe floods and advised people living by streams to relocate to high ground to protect themselves and their livestock. HADMA also used vehicles mounted with loudspeakers to announce incoming flash floods to communities living in low-lying areas and valleys. “All the communities in the rural areas were gripped by fear of the unknown,” remembers Jama, who had to stay on high ground for weeks before the water receded and it was safe to go home. Fishermen in Jama’s village are also warned whenever hurricanes are likely to make the sea unsafe. UNDP’s support for the drought centre has been made possible thanks to funding from the Global Environment Facilities Development Countries Fund, which also supports other projects in Somalia to help farmers facing the effects of climate change, including water management systems and reservoirs for people in drought-prone areas.