Management of grazing lands in Puntland saves pastoralists and their herds from drought

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Animals grazing on a community-managed reserve outside Garowe/Abdirahman Mohamed/Ergo

(ERGO) – Local authorities are helping communities in parts of Puntland to revive a traditional method of managing grazing lands, in order to ensure that herders have access to fodder for their livestock even during times of drought.

The authorities in Bari region have worked with the local people to control grazing in the vast Daror Valley, located south of the Golis Mountains.

Mohamud Ismail Issa, the mayor of Isku-Shuban, said the Daror Valley, which covers an area of 2,100 square kilometres, is now part of the controlled grazing reserves (locally called Seerayn) under the management of community elders for use during dry seasons.

After the drought of 2017, the authorities fenced the valley with barbed wire to allow the grasslands to recover. The communities have developed by-laws to regulate the use of the grazing zones, which includes a ban on cutting trees to make charcoal. The reserve is guarded by security teams from the local community.

Around 10,000 pastoralist families moved with their livestock into the valley, after Puntland authorities opened it for grazing in early 2018.

“This is just like paddock grazing,” the mayor explained. “Animals will feed in the open fields whilst the reserve grows enough grass. When the dry season starts, animals are allowed to graze inside the reserve until the next rain. This gives the land time to recover, as these dry areas are highly susceptible to damage from trampling and overgrazing.”

Another similar reserve is being established in Eyn in Bari region, according to Abdullahi Jama’ Ismail, local coordinator for Puntland’s ministry of environment.

“This reserve will support the community’s livestock so that during the dry season, so pastoralists need not move from the area in search of pasture,” Abdullahi told Radio Ergo.

The reserve is also enabling the regrowth of indigenous trees and bushes, as human activity is also restricted. It is hoped this will mitigate some of the long term effects of drought and soil erosion.

A local council of elders has been nominated to manage the reserve.

Ahmed Abdullahi Ali, a pastoralist, said his herd managed to survive the terrible drought of 2017-18 because he was able to graze his livestock in the replenished Daror Valley reserve.

“There was enough grass, the pastoralists have grazed their animals in the reserve and people managed to escape the impact of the drought, We did not experience hard conditions caused by drought because pasture was available,” said Ahmed, who lives 30 km from the reserve.

He hopes that his animals will continue to thrive if the rangeland is well managed.

“It rained recently and the animals have pasture. We have plenty of milk. This step to manage the pasture is good because normally people graze their animals without thinking about what they will do once the grass gets finished,” Ahmed said.

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