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Innovative agriculture, livestock, and natural resource management in Somalia

Gender-sensitive approaches promoted by the Rome-based Agencies Resilience Initiative

From 2017 to 2023, the United Nations Rome-based agencies (RBA) – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Programme (WFP) – implemented a joint initiative funded by Canada aimed at strengthening resilience for food security and nutrition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Niger, and Somalia. This joint programme aimed to bridge humanitarian and development objectives and meet immediate food needs while sustainably increasing food security in regions affected by protracted and recurrent crises, with a specific focus on vulnerable women and children.

The objective of this good practice fact sheet is to present the RBA initiative in Somalia and its resilience-building layering and sequencing model of multisectoral interventions, built around traditional and alternative livelihood pathways including kitchen and market gardens, beekeeping husbandry, Prosopis juliflora processing into alternative livestock feed and charcoal as well as natural resource management. In Somalia, the joint RBA initiative combined FAO’s productive sectors elements (water infrastructure, crops, livestock, and natural resource management) with WFP’s activities focusing on nutrition support services for malnourished populations, behavior change and incentives on expanding household diet diversity, knowledge on breastfeeding and complementary feeding among women as well as the provision of nutrition services to prevent diseases.


  • On climate action: The RBA initiative in Somalia contributed to reducing the vulnerability of agropastoralists and local economies to climate and weather-related disasters. For example, the sustainable management of Prosopis is helping pastoralists, agropastoralists, and dryland farmers adapt to climate change through the processing of drought-resistant Prosopis tree parts into a variety of products, including livestock feed supplements and charcoal. Prosopis can be defined as a multi-purpose crop. By controlling its harmful effects as an invasive species, and diversifying local incomes, communities and local economies become less vulnerable to climate-related disasters in contexts where severe drought episodes are recurrent.
  • On biodiversity: The intervention engaged producer groups in alternative livelihood pathways constituting biodiversity-friendly production practices, supporting food security while conserving, restoring and sustainably using biodiversity. Those are the kitchen and market gardens, which enhanced irrigation techniques, soil and water conservation, and control of pests and diseases without the use of chemical pesticides; management of Prosopis, which reverses land degradation; beekeeping husbandry, including colonization, management of bee predators and bee feeding during drought; and finally natural resource conservation and management, contributing to the natural regeneration of rangelands, addressing soil infertility and erosion and restoring vegetation through tree nurseries.
  • On localization: The RBA initiative in Somalia leveraged activities from different agencies to benefit communities. This approach brought complementarity across interventions and partners’ comparative advantages to enhance communities in capacities reducing the risk of disaster, strengthening livelihoods, and building over time. This has resulted in improved involvement and coordination among partners across multiple sectors and multiple line ministries in supporting the targeted communities.
  • On market opportunities: The intervention has involved collaboration with multiple market actors along different value chains. Market garden groups add value to existing production (vegetables under drip irrigation) and the processing and sale of vegetables allow women’s groups to market and sell production collectively in higher value markets, thus generating additional income. The management of Prosopis enabled local groups, focusing on women and youth, to establish a range of commercial activities – from pod collection and milling to charcoal and feed production – that are profitable and self-sustaining. This further promoted linkages between local entrepreneurs and bigger upstream market actors. Furthermore, it improved household income by around 15 percent. It is therefore important to improve and upscale the concept of income diversification, linking it with other programme activities like access to credit. In addition, future programming should encourage group formation for learning, better access to markets, and more bargaining power.
  • On gender: Kitchen and market gardens increased availability and equitable access to nutritious, diversified, and stable food supply, especially for women and children around their homesteads. The establishment of women-led user groups and village savings groups also strengthened their access to training and productive resources. The production of vegetables, and processing of Prosopis juliflora into charcoal and fodder, allowed women in Burco and Odweyne districts to diversify their income sources and strengthen their resilience. By adopting gender-sensitive approaches, this initiative contributed to establishing sustainable businesses for women, thus improving their economic power and contributing to enhancing their representation in decision-making processes.
  • On water stress: The RBA initiative in Somalia addressed water scarcity through a variety of activities including water infrastructure rehabilitation, enhanced irrigation techniques, construction of water tans for community apiaries, training on water use and conservation for kitchen and market garden groups and school gardens, desilting, expansion and rehabilitation of water catchments and reservoirs. By collaborating with UNICEF on water & hygiene training Ministry of Water Resources Development in Somaliland, the intervention applied a localized capacity development approach and was able to hand over the rehabilitated assets to the communities. This shows that promoting the protection and sustainable use of water resources is fundamental to deal with climate emergencies including drought and is key for enabling better water outcomes and enhanced resilience.
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