, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 91-108

Nomadic pastoralism and irrigated agriculture in Somalia

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Abstract

The persistent interplay of food production problems, land degradation, and social and climatic difficulties on the Horn of Africa result in recurring famines in spite of vast sums of money spent on agricultural development. As land resources — which undergird both social and production systems in Africa — become increasingly degraded, development efforts, especially in problematic areas, need to become part of comprehensive resource use programs that take into account the existing regional land use ecology. Designs which disrupt the ecology of established land uses can lead to extensive degradation because such uses are linked to wider areas; and the effects of such disruption can ultimately threaten the viability of the proposed schemes themselves.

While African agriculture has traditionally met greater food needs by expanding the area under cultivation and irrigation, the increasing scarcity of new high quality arable land means that multiple use of “high potential” areas will become a priority. This paper describes a multiple land use in a “high potential” river basin of Somalia, in the context of the existing use patterns involved in irrigated agriculture and nomadic pastoralism. The spatial and temporal access and use of resources are analyzed, and recommendations made for improving the integration of these production systems.