Preparing for El Niño in Somalia by Abdirashid Dahir

Somalia is more likely to experience heavy rains that could leave more than 900,000 people living on floodplains along Jubba and Shabelle rivers in central and southern Somalia ‘destitute’ according to early alert by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

                                                (Photo Courtesy of SWALIM0) 

Riverine areas have all along been bruised by flash as well as pluvial floods due to new wild flood irrigation in dry seasons, deterioration of flood control structures, poor management of River basins, increased bed levels because of high sediment yields and dilapidated pre-war hydraulic structures.

The country can’t cope with riverine floods as a result of overtopping and very high rainfall intensity as experts predict.

Should flood risks become imminent, federal government of Somalia which is grappling with challenges in security front can’t deal with large-scale disaster in the aftermath of El Niño.

In October and December seasonal rainfall, Somalia may ruefully brace up for severe El Niño conditions including flooding and possible landslides.

Thanks to early warning of FAO Water and Land Information Management Unit (SWALIM), world is predicting that flooding could very hard hit large parts of the country, most specifically in Southern Somalia. This is key response against flooding and it should be taken seriously to prevent crops and villages from being washed away and submerged.

Data gathered by SWALIM show that Somalia used to enjoy massive irrigation infrastructures such as 10 barrages of which nine were built over Shabelle River and the remaining one on Jubba for flow controls.

The availability of technical information about the floods to be expected if water spills over the banks of Shabelle and Jubba rivers will be flood abatement measure. Despite under-resourced government bodies, i am sure that a humanitarian staging area can be the most preferred cushion.

From my perspective, Somalia needs to adopt concrete measures from the outcome of IGAD’s climate Predictions and Application Centre meeting which will bring together regional and international climate experts in Tanzania on Monday.

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Here, I suggest that some measures be possibly implemented by concerned bodies on the ground had officials gone at length for framing of policies on hazard responses.

1 – Topography of Shabelle River is complex and the River spans longer than Jubba, henceforth Somali authorities should prohibit certain land uses on more flood prone flood plains along either river.

2 – Improving flood proofing techniques including sandbags as has been the case and the construction of water proof walls.

3 – Increase in monitoring and predictions, especially data on rainfall and stream discharges by FAO and its partners, so that they can produce accurate predictions translating into the very timing of flood surges.

4 – Fourth, construction of flood control structures, such as dykes and levees as well as modifications including artificial linings, relief channels and diversion to low impact flood plain zones to both Jubba and Shabelle Rivers.

Unpreparedness for El Niño is potentially dangerous in a country where all hydraulic structures and economic infrastructure need to be brought back into operation.

Enhanced rainfalls too might complicate the situation and would hamper timely coordination between parties awaiting uphill task to be executed at source.

As Jubba and Shabelle tail reaches are extremely unstable and appear alluvial in nature, Somalia government must confront El Niño with expertise and the concern that they pass through critical economic areas.

Billion cubic meters of water would have been assessed scientifically if partners and bodies had employed two dimensional river hydraulic models. Against the backdrop of absence of relevant institutions, efforts to develop integrated flood management plan need to get underway for government offices to adopt sound river management measures via updated topographical and geomorphological data.

Abdirashid M. Dahir, who writes about Somalia’s economic infrastructure, has contributed to this piece. Follow him on twitter @somaliajunkie or he can be reached at

The Horn of Hope Team would like to thank Mr. Dahir for submitting this insightful read.

Hope Lies in the Horn- Exclusive Interview Part 1

Do you often find yourself thinking "How can I bring change?".  Well, you aren't alone! We interviewed a few individuals who are inspiring, motivating, and changing communities. From Somalia to Australia, here's a little glimpse into the lives of souls determined to  bring change. 

Hodan Nalayeh. Founder of Integration TV, Canada.

What Inspired you to create Integration TV?

I grew up in Canada all my life and never knew much about Somalia. Although, I could understand the Somali language, it was very difficult for me to speak and write it. I made a commitment to learn my culture after visiting Dadaab Refugee Camp in 2011 as a volunteer. It was during this period in my life that I realized there is an entire generation of Somalis like myself. They love being Somali, but they lack language & cultural skills. I wanted to create a platform where they could understand, but still learn everything about being Somali and Somalia.

How are you using this platform to bring change and What is next for IntegrationTV?

I went back to school to learn Broadcast Journalism and later developed this platform. Integration TV is the first English Somali TV. It was simple idea to bring an entire community together online via YouTube.  Somalis are scattered around the world and speak many languages, English may be the most common language they share since we have an entire generation losing their language in the last 25 years. Integration TV is unique because it utilizes the power of social media to bring social change. In our research, we have found Somali youth do not watch TV, they are on social media even inside of Somalia. They connect with us because we speak their language of change. They have hope and want progress! They are not interested in politics, but prosperity. This is the Somali audience of the future. Young people who have no clan affiliations or regional boundaries. They are seeking success and we are their platform. We showcase amazing Somalis who have achieved in their fields, stories that connect people in the heart and cultural icons they may not know. Somali youth in the Diaspora are connecting with Somali youth back home for the first time since we broadcast shows from Somalia also.

This is a great achievement to help two different cultured Somali youths see their commonality.

We are finally seeing how much we share in culture and struggles of being in the west.

Our program also gives people outside of the Somali community to see and understand our hidden culture. In our broadcast on Canadian TV, we are seeing a shift in the perception of Somalis in mainstream media since our debut last year.

Site:  Watch on Youtube Friend on Facebook Follow on Twitter  Produced by Cultural Integration Agency, Inc. 

I am Abdirashid Mohamed Dahir and I reside in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I was born in Gardo, a town in northeastern Somalia where I used to study at schools at times when the country was languishing in internecine conflict; nonetheless there was a hope that ‘Somalia will regain its pride and dignity sooner than later’. I have more responsibilities and a lot of dreams to fulfill sometime in the near future, God Willing.

(wow! We love his mentality!... okay back to the interview!)

We are all tasked with making Somalia ‘great again’ and i am convinced this is a visible goal in the pipeline for everyone including me. To be very frank, I am hobbyist in the field of civil engineering. I like cumbersome computations and of course how we can drive a lot from the nature, just imagine and portray in your mind: designing from skyscrapers to condors, roads resting typically on flat terrain through tunnels and unlocking the vast hydropower potential of Somalia. I shouldn’t forget that internationally acclaimed engineers since the field varies by time are role model for me.

 What does Hope mean to you? 

Hope really means so much. To me anything is possible in Somalia and let’s put faith in our country. Hope in Somalia, means we can live our life without despair. Indeed, in tribute to all, never ever give up on the beautiful country, Somalia.

 What Role do Youth play in the development of Somalia?

Youth have a larger role to play in the development. Their entrepreneurial thoughts are vital to our ongoing march to a better Somalia. Youths might have engaged in development initiatives, this continues to bear fruits, for instance look at charitable works, struggle for more prosperous and educated community, they can be volunteers to dwindle illiteracy rate and perhaps they could help us opt for self-reliance.   

What motivated you to become a Civil Engineer and How are you using your platform to bring change?        

 It’s not because civil engineering is one of the highest-paid jobs in Africa or worldwide. I was propelled by the infrastructure sector which has been in shambles as a result of state collapse. I love getting involved in local communities; I want to become an esteemed civil engineer among my people. I am very much indebted to anyone who stood by me in my quest for a promising field and truly I am sure I will get personal endeavors off the ground to improve access to potable water, to alleviate housing crisis, to build new roads free of charge and research on key engineering topics back home.

I extensively use social media to address a cancer that needs to be severed. Mostly, I tweet about tribalism which really kept progress at bay. I couldn’t wait any longer to remain silent about the dirty clan politics and in turn I use my passion for writing to quell chasm of violence through the pen.

What advice can you share with Somali/ Somali diaspora who want to give back?

"It’s time for Somali Diaspora to return and heavily invest in construction industry. Their significant contribution has already been seen and unless their presence is felt, Somalia’s path to full economic recovery will face hurdles."

 What are some of your proudest projects/moments so far?

I visited Somalia last summer to work on the geometric design of presidential road in Garowe. Over the course of my stay, I was also part of UN-funded project aimed at offering solutions to drainage problems. Besides, I feel proud of my contribution to the construction of palace and design of one-way four-lane urban roads in the Somali region of Ethiopia. When working in Ethiopia or other East African countries (if you have), do you find it more challenging to perform your work? (Perhaps Some patterns you’ve noticed?(do they lack similar things?)

The only challenge was how owners of projects are indifferent to the dynamic works of civil engineers.

Education is fundamental to ending poverty and Civil engineering plays a significant role. So, how can our governments/communities encourage people to pursue this career so we can successfully bring systematic change?

This profession is not something very easy, but Somalia needs people capable of imparting some striking ideas to others, especially, those schooled about science. Authorities on the ground should build higher education institutions which specialize in technology, reverse brain drain and make wider appeal in the face of economic infrastructure in tatters.

Follow our favorite engineer here! Website: Facebook: Twitter:  @abdirashiddahir


2015 Water Campaign

In Africa alone, people spend over 400 million hours collecting water. Often times, it is women and children who walk 8 unbearable hours only to access contaminated water. This is why we focused our campaign around water. The reality is people are in need of both clean water and safe containers/bags to carry it in. Now, more than ever, people around the world have access to water. THE CRISIS IS SOLVABLE, but few offer a realistic solution. Earlier this year, we collaborated with PackH2o to send as many bags possible to Somalia. 

On March 28th, our team gathered the Columbus community of Ohio to raise awareness on the water crisis, illiteracy, and poverty in east Africa. We were honored to share the stage with our partner Packh20's Kelsey Langdale, who elaborated on the lack of water sustainability. The American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa [ARAHA] also shared a powered video about their efforts to better the living conditions of thousands of Somalis affected by the 2012 famine.

Founders Anisa Liban and Yasmeen Sidiq also took the stage to share their incredible story, passion and mission.  

Check it out!

Thank you for the support! Let's restore hope one jerrycan at a time!

A Holiday for H2o

World Water Day is much more than an annual international holiday, it is a day for water and water sustainable development. It is day for gratitude. 

748 million people do not have access to clean-safe drinking water. In Africa alone, over 40 billion hours are spent collecting water every year. These numbers are striking but they are not impossible to shrink. In fact, more people have access to clean water now, more than ever before and according to the UN the rate of water related deaths have plummeted. 

We here at HOH believe 2015 will be a year of change. Why? This month, we launched our annual water campaign to aid over 1,000 dislocated families in Somalia. We also partnered with two powerful non-profits-PackH20 and American Relief Agency of Horn of Africa (ARAHA) to make this a reality! 

We believe WATER is everything. Water is health, nature, urbanization, industry, energy, food, and equality!