Smart irrigation transforms the lives of residents and IDPs in Baidao, Somalia

  • May 08, 2024

  • Mogadishu, Somalia



Baidoa City is the epicenter of the displacement crisis in Somalia, experiencing a significant entry of internally displaced persons (IDPs) due to conflict, drought and other socio-economic challenges. Consequently, the city faces massive pressures on its resources, infrastructure and social services. The arrival of IDPs has impacted the already limited infrastructure and opportunities (i.e., access to water, food, and employment), exacerbating the challenges faced by both displaced individuals and the host community.

In response to these challenges, the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), in collaboration with the Federal Government of Somalia, the Southwest Government, Baidoa Municipality, and with funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), a smart irrigation project was successfully implemented in the Barwaaqo IDP site, in Baidoa. The initiative has not only addressed immediate concerns related to food insecurity and water shortages but has also fostered social integration, inclusion and climate resilience.

Additionally, this project seeks to promote revenue generation and local economic development. Its linkages with the constructed market facility underscore a holistic approach to addressing the multifaceted challenges facing IDPs.

The Smart Climate Irrigation project in Baidoa addressed the pressing need for sustainable water provision and food production. Key components of the project included establishing a solar-powered drip irrigation system, a greenhouse, an elevated water tank and an underground water reservoir. The project has constructed multiple facilities, including water kiosks, which now serve over 50 individuals each hour, and water troughs for livestock.

Before the project’s implementation, the community faced severe challenges in accessing water, with women and children traveling up to 5.7 kilometers to collect water, impacting their time, health, and overall well-being. Additionally, the project constructed essential facilities such as gender-segregated prayer rooms, storage facilities and a caretaker room.

Furthermore, a backup generator was procured to guarantee uninterrupted operations, particularly during periods of power outages. The project aimed to promote agricultural resilience and socio-economic development in Baidoa, which is is the largest city of the South West State of Somalia, by integrating advanced irrigation technologies with sustainable infrastructure and essential amenities.

Notably, the smart irrigation scheme has created 57 direct jobs and 375 indirect job opportunities, divided into 281 IDPs and 94 individuals from the host communities. This boost in employment will foster economic growth and local economic development. Directly, the project has enhanced the living standards of 57 households, with 70% of these beneficiaries being women, empowering them to take lead roles in nurturing their families and community.

In conclusion, the smart irrigation project in Badioa City not only stands as a testament to the transformative power of innovative solutions and community collaboration but also as a beacon of hope for the future. By addressing water scarcity, fostering economic opportunities, and promoting inclusivity, the project has not only improved the quality of life for residents but also laid the foundation for sustainable development and resilience. As communities continue to thrive and grow, the legacy of this project will endure, serving as a beacon of hope and progress for generations to come.

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) is the United Nations' flagship catalytic financing entity for the world’s 45 least developed countries (LDCs). With its unique capital mandate and focus on the LDCs, UNCDF works to invest and catalyse capital to support these countries in achieving the sustainable growth and inclusiveness envisioned by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Doha Programme of Action for the least developed countries, 2022–2031.

UNCDF builds partnerships with other UN organizations, as well as private and public sector actors, to achieve greater impact in development, specifically by unlocking additional resources and strengthening financing mechanisms and systems contributing to transformation pathways, focusing on such development themes as green economy, digitalization, urbanization, inclusive economies, gender equality, and women’s economic empowerment.

A hybrid development finance institution and development agency, UNCDF uses a combination of capital instruments (deployment, financial and business advisory and catalysation) and development instruments (technical assistance, capacity development, policy advice, advocacy, thought leadership, and market analysis and scoping), which are applied across five priority areas (inclusive digital economies, local transformative finance, women’s economic empowerment, climate, energy, and biodiversity finance, and sustainable food systems finance).