e-Agriculture Webinar : SWALIM -18 Year Journey in Somalia
About the webinar
The outbreak of the civil war in Somalia in 1991 led to the breakdown of core country systems and a period of chaos characterized by conflict, mass displacement, periodic famine and widespread destruction of infrastructure and institutions. The civil war severely depressed the capacity of communities to cope with climate-induced disasters, most notably floods and droughts. Despite progress in autonomous Somaliland, in the South and Centre Universities remained closed until very recently. In Mogadishu, Somalia’s water and land data, information and knowledge archives held by the pre-war FAO/UNDP funded National Water Centre project were lost.
As a response to the disastrous 1998 El Nino Flood, since 2000 FAO’s Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM) project has worked towards the restoration of these key archives, combined with the production of new baselines in Water and Land Resources. In the last 18 years journey, SWALIM has completed five phases with a common theme of providing accurate and timely water and land resources information to guide emergency, rehabilitation and development initiatives of the Somali government, donors, UN agencies, NGOs, the private sector and Somali communities. Core activities include an agrometeorological and hydrometric gauging network; water sources and water quality analytics and database; soils assessment, analytics, and database; landform, land cover and land degradation case studies and mapping; as evidenced through the production of 52 studies, 12 Journal publications, and 2 Atlases on Water and Land. Production of baselines is matched by two equally important project pillars; Information Management for Knowledge Communication, and Capacity Building within which SWALIM currently offers 22 courses and maintains a healthy partnership with line Ministries to operate and maintain data collection networks and data centers.
Today, SWALIM’s services remain highly relevant to help Somalia preserve and manage its natural resource base – including diminishing groundwater, tree cover and soil fertility – and to protect its people against the impacts of recurrent climate shocks. Most recently, SWALIM’s information and early warning systems were critical in informing Somalia’s successful famine prevention and drought response in 2017.
The principle underpinning SWALIM has been that SWALIM act as “knowledge guardian,” until the Somali Government is recovered enough to re-establish core country systems with viable, strong institutions. Under auspices of the AU led AMISOM mission, since the elections of 2016, the Somalia Federal Republic has re-engaged in regional economic cooperation with neighboring states. In response, FAO Somalia is currently relocating its program to Somalia. The new phase of SWALIM thus has a significant responsibility towards effective capacity building and transfer key data, information and the methods of collection, validation and analysis to the line ministries of the Somali government, and key knowledge partners/Somali Universities. At the same time, FAOSO has to work to maintain its comparative advantage as a trusted, independent knowledge manager of water and land resources for agriculture. The balance of imperatives, therefore, has to be worked out as SWALIM begins its journey into Somalia over the next few years.