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Greening Mataban: Ubah's Story of Hope and Growth

Saturday April 13, 2024

Ubah Isse Siyad outside her home Photo: IOM 2024

In Beergadid, a small village in the arid landscape of Somalia’s Mataban district, a story of resilience is unfolding. At the heart of it, we find Ubah Isse Siyad — a mother of four working to defy the odds in a land where water is scarce, and trees are a rare sight.

Ubah lives in a community grappling with the harsh realities of environmental degradation, deforestation, and soil erosion. Across Somalia, the impact of climate change manifests in a relentless cycle of droughts and floods, which pose a grave threat to the livelihood and well-being of its inhabitants. Droughts cast a shadow of uncertainty over the country, leading to water scarcity, failed crops, and heightened food insecurity. Then, floods menace the same terrain during the rainy seasons, causing widespread destruction, displacement, and — in some cases — loss of life.

Despite her best efforts, Ubah was struggling to protect her agricultural livelihood from these threats. She remembers attempting to plant trees around her house, but they failed to grow because she lacked the necessary knowledge, tools, and resources.

Recognizing the need to find solutions that can assist families like Ubah’s, the Ministry of Women and Human Rights in Hirshabelle State partnered with the International Organization for Migration to run a reforestation and tree planting campaign led by and for women.

Alongside 80 other participants, Ubah immersed herself in workshops and training sessions to gain practical skills in effective tree planting and environmental conservation. After she was provided with essential materials including seedlings and protection fences, Ubah embarked on a mission to transform her surroundings. She shielded the newly planted trees from grazing animals and human interference, striving to give them the best possible chance of survival in Mataban’s harsh environment.

But Ubah’s contribution didn’t stop there. In addition to planting trees in her own yard, she took it upon herself to care for and protect the trees in her community. Using the skills she acquired from the campaign, Ubah became a guardian of the environment, doing her best to ensure that the trees she planted would continue to grow and flourish for years to come.

I am grateful for receiving trees to plant at my home. I promise to protect them so we can use them for shade and environmental benefits,” she explained. “As a woman leader in Beergadid Village, I believe in the value of leading tree planting efforts for reforestation and combating climate change.

Ubah uses her berket — a large water tank with a capacity of 10,000 litres — to sell water to her neighbours during times of scarcity. The berket helps her earn a small income, but she can also use water from the tank to refresh the trees she planted in her village as part of the campaign.

Through her proactive efforts and resourcefulness, Ubah not only transformed her immediate environment but also contributed to the overall resilience and sustainability of her community. Her story serves as a shining example of how individuals can make a meaningful difference in the face of environmental challenges, inspiring others to join in the effort to create a more sustainable and resilient future for all.

This activity was made possible with funding from the European Union.


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