Sheikh Muhumed Dhinbil Cumar sits in a bit of shade chewing khat as he muses over how farming in his village has changed over recent generations. His father and his father before him—12 or 13 generations of his family, he says—were all farmers in this area, with tenuous livelihoods subject to unpredictable rainfall and drought.
But thanks to Concern’s Farmer Field Schools, begun here in 2012, Cumar, 60, has improved his ability to collect and manage rainwater and further diversified his crops. Today he is cultivating 50 percent more land than before the program began, pushing aside stingy acacia trees and defiant shrub brush to make room for citrus trees, grains and nuts on land he can now irrigate.
He is able to sell 90 percent of what he grows in the nearby city of Hargeisa, some 25 miles to the northeast, keeping the rest for household consumption. With this profit, he can send some of his 20 grandchildren to schools in the city, resulting in improved education not only for the family, but the 350-household-strong community of Gogol-wanaag.
And now, for the first time, he believes he can fight back against nature itself in this harsh, semi-arid land. “If a drought happens,” he says with new confidence, “we will survive.”