Diaspora money is starting to green a nation that has been neglected by many international donors

Entrepreneurs help farmers hold back Somaliland’s desert

Mustafa Duale grabs his binoculars to check on 450 camels grazing on what used to be barren land in western Somaliland — an unrecognised state in the Horn of Africa, between encroaching desert and the Gulf of Aden, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991. “Now the camels don’t have to walk for days, they have water and food right here,” says Duale, a community leader, livestock trader and water engineer.

Behind the camel herd, plantations of sorghum and watermelons are fenced by 1,000 mareer berry trees. “We are building an ecosystem,” Duale adds proudly.

That may seem an extravagant claim for such dry and harsh terrain. But Duale has earned the right to make it. Marshalling money from private citizens, he built a 45,000 cubic metres bali, or water reservoir, and ancillary drip irrigation system that, since 2017, has been watering the crops and livestock of 600 people by the village of Qoolcadey.

Across the road, where no water system is in place, barren land stretches to the horizon. “Before, this area was like that,” says Duale. “The community needs this, the livestock needs this. If we don’t build reservoirs ourselves, desertification will advance. We used to send the camels to Ethiopia for grazing; now we can do it here. Without water, there’d be nothing here.”

1 Like