Land degradation 2018-05-29T10:58:40+00:00

Land degradation

The Project Manager of  SWEN  in partnership with South West ministry of  Environment and Pasture carried out the research below;

There are three main groups of types of land degradation in South West Somalia: soil degradation, biological degradation, and water degradation.

Soil degradation Soil degradation occurs when the soil chemical or physical conditions have been negatively altered. Examples of soil degradation include acidification, salinization, organic matter depletion, compaction, nutrient depletion, structural deterioration, loss of topsoil, gully erosion, chemical contamination. In South West Somalia, the most common soil degradation types identified by experts are loss of topsoil, nutrient depletion, and gully erosion

Biological degradation Biological degradation includes loss of biomass, biodiversity, and loss of soil life. The most common types of biological degradation in South West Somalia are loss of vegetation cover, loss of vegetation species, loss of habitat, and reduction of biomass

Water degradation Water degradation includes processes such as aridification, change in quantity of surface water, change in ground water level, decline in surface/ground water quality, and reduction of the buffering capacity of wetlands

During expert assessment of land degradation in South West Somalia, the experts identified aridification and decline in surface water quality as the main types of water degradation

Common types of land degradation in South West Somalia

Type Definition Soil erosion by water Implies the removal and transport of soil particles by water. Different types of soil erosion by water can be identified: loss of topsoil, gulley erosion, riverbank erosion, etc. Soil erosion by wind Where wind has direct access to bare dry soil and causes soil detachment and removal. The forms of it are: loss of topsoil, deflation and deposition, offsite degradation effects Soil chemical deterioration Refers to the negative change of the chemical properties of soil. Fertility decline in agriculture productive areas is the most common type of chemical degradation. Water degradation Water degradation includes processes such as aridification, change in quantity and quality of surface water, and drop in ground water level. Biological degradation Reduction of the vegetation cover, loss of vegetation species and habitats, and decline of biomass

Methods for assessing land degradation Many methods have been developed in the literature for assessing land degradation. They range from field measurements, laboratory measurements of samples taken from the field, remote sensing applications and specifically the use of NDVI signals, expert assessment, and observations on changes in land productivity  In the last few years, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) developed a Land Degradation Assessment in Drylands (LADA) framework, which attempted a holistic approach towards effective assessment of land degradation . This framework is currently being debated and improved to effectively capture driving forces of land degradation, status and impacts, and what can be done to combat the degradation. It has numerous advantages including accommodation of a variety of practical steps for assessing and monitoring different aspects of land degradation. Exhaustive description of this framework, its methodological steps, and a set of activities to guide the assessment 4 process can be found in online documents by the LADA project (

Land degradation in South West Somalia, many aspects of advancing land degradation have been reported in various literatures . The reports show evidences of loss of vegetation, gully erosion, loss of topsoil, siltation of surface dams and irrigation canals, invasive non-palatable plant species, and loss of plant nutrients in agriculture potential areas. These land degradation types affect pasture availability and consequently affecting livestock production. They also have negative influence on crop production in agriculture productive areas. In general, it can be said that land degradation is potentially affecting the traditional pastoral production systems which is the mainstay of South West Somalia. The need for its assessment to support policy formulation and implementation of control measures can therefore not be overemphasized. SWEN successfully carried out a study of national and local level assessment of prevalent types and extent of land degradation in South West Somalia. The objective of the study was to clearly identify the main types of land degradation, goods and services affected, the root causes, and potential ways for combating land degradation in South West Somalia. The study also identified measurable indicators for monitoring land degradation. This technical report documents the methods, main findings from the study and proposed a monitoring framework.