Senior Environmental Legal Expert
Somalia’s environment was severely degraded during the decades long civil strife due to the absence of governance and enforcement. In the absence of an effective government, many traditional forms of natural resource management and enforcement mechanisms have been abandoned or are currently ignored. Unsustainable exploitation and loss of natural resources and biodiversity is prevalent. Huge areas that were once tree-covered rangelands have been reduced to treeless plains; the result has been disappearing wildlife and soil erosion. Scarcity of fresh water, severe erosion such as gullying, land degradation for charcoal production and siltation of water bodies are also major issues. The adverse impacts of climate change have also exacerbated the rate of environmental degradation in Somalia.
Environmental degradation and mismanagement of natural resources are severely jeopardizing Somalia´s economy. Approximately 70% of Somalis are dependent on climate-sensitive agriculture and pastoralism. As floods and droughts become more severe and frequent in Somalia, there is a need to find approaches that can reduce the sensitivity of farmers and pastoralists to increasing rainfall variability. With natural resource degradation also rampant throughout Somalia, most notably for the production of charcoal, Somalia is becoming increasingly vulnerable to conflicts over scarce resources. Climate change and resource scarcity are aggravated by the absence of policies and regulatory frameworks on environmental management, land-use and disaster risk management that incorporate impacts of climate change and build resilience across Somalia to better cope with these impacts. At local levels, communities lack the financial, technical and informational resources needed to build their resilience to climate change as well as the knowledge of how to prepare for extreme weather impacts.
To address these issues, Global Environment Facility-Least Developed Countries Climate Fund (GEF-LDCF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is financing a national project on “Enhancing Climate Resilience of Vulnerable Communities and Ecosystems in Somalia”. The main objective of the Project is to enhance resilience and improve adaptive capacity of vulnerable Somali communities in pilot areas, and the ecosystems on which they depend, to the adverse impacts of climate change. This objective is to be realised by working on set of activities under two main components:
Component 1: Enhancing policies, institutional frameworks and government capacities with focus on review, revision, development and adoption of policies, plans and tools to mainstream and enhance adaptive capacity and mitigate the risks of climate change on vulnerable communities and critical ecosystems.
Component 2: Piloting Ecosystem Based Adaptation strategies with focus on development and implementation of models of community and ecosystem resilience in pilot areas in collaboration with the government and community stakeholders.