Somaliland: Prospects for Irrigation


By: Abdirahman Ibrahim Abdilahi

Somalilandsun – Irrigation is a method that is practiced to substitute for erratic rainfall situation in anywhere in the world and Somaliland is not an exception.

It is important because it enhances the crop yield and maintains moisture in the soil, reducing food insecurity in the country while also helping ensure the plants planted in it are able to absorb the nutrients within the soil more easily. The sources of irrigation in Somaliland are mainly either from shallow wells or deep wells and canals from the nearby streams; the methods of delivery from the above mentioned sources are pipelines and earthen canals for pipelines and deep well respectively. The drawback of the surface irrigation systems likewise seen in the country ends up with salinization and water logging. We need to monitor salt levels and constantly advising farmers on the ground accordingly to alleviating the problem before the situation gets out of control. In contrast, people in general do have negative perception-sector’s potential and importance and that is why inadequate public and private sector investment in the sector is far less than potential. In addition to upgrading of irrigation systems from the old traditional types to modern irrigation systems, we need to promote water harvestings and storage in upholding participatory approaches in irrigation development and management for the future projects.

Nowadays, cemented canals and wells are used to draw water from the close by streams and if such facilities are expanded could lead to substantial increase in food production in our country but the system is inefficient because water evaporates both from canals and soil (as its being applied) and from between plant rows. I have also observed that water is delivered to plants through canals on a fixed schedule that doesn’t match the plants’ needs. Fortunately, farmers in the canal use water trading among themselves to realize plant water needs.

The concerned ministries should identify the immerse potential of irrigation to that end; they have got to seek help from the international donor communities to collect among others data regarding irrigation development as information related to land evaluation in general and Irrigation development in particular does not exist in Somaliland, and training of human resources in the sector. In addition to, data regarding irrigation status, water resources development including an assessment of the priorities accorded to respective areas for example water development, water control, and potential areas for irrigation in order to understand which crops to grow where. We also need to have also figures on arable land in Somaliland and the percentage being irrigated together with the potential irrigable land.

Moreover, we need to map out the irrigation potentiality of the country; there are opportunities for irrigation canals in each and every region of the country. It is coincidence that, some parts of Somaliland had received small scale interventions whereas majority of the potential areas have not seen any irrigation projects. They should plan means to augment irrigation and rehabilitate the canals in use and develop new systems of irrigation that are better suited to the growing demands of local farmers in the country as well as seek help from both within the government resources and international community working in the agriculture sector. The ministry of agriculture needs to have broader government initiatives for enhanced irrigation development. To this end, they should formulate irrigation policy involving stakeholders in the irrigation sector and also should mobilize endeavors regarding water harvesting and storage development for irrigation.

However, the ministry of agriculture should gear up for irrigation development and expansion where potentialities exist, in the meantime, they should create a body within the ministry of agriculture that deals with irrigation systems, training human resources in the sector and plans potential areas for infrastructure related irrigation. It is in the hour of need to covert the present irrigation system into more advanced, economical, efficient, and less environmentally degrading and at the same time reducing the water that is wasted during watering to the farm.


Abdirahman Ibrahim Abdilahi

Contact :