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“When the water ran out, we had to leave our home” – One Somali family’s experience after a village borehole ran dry

UNICEF/ Pflanz
© UNICEF Somalia/ 2011/ Mike Pflanz
Amina Jama sits with her family at breakfast time in village of Wadaamagoo in Somaliland. The whole family was forced to move away from home when the borehole pump in their village broke down.

WADAAMAGOO, Somaliland, 1 December 2011 – As in many villages in this arid stretch of northern Somalia, the people of Wadaamagoo rely on fresh water pumped from the ground by a diesel-driven borehole. When it broke down recently, the ripple effects went further than the struggle to find alternative supplies. Amina Jama, a mother from Wadaamagoo with nine children, tells MIKE PFLANZ her story.

“The whole life of this village depends only on the mercy of Allah, and secondly on the water from that borehole. When it breaks, life becomes so difficult, people become weak and they could die. You know, the water is not just for the village here, it is being taken to other people living so far away.  I  imagine that so many other lives have problems too.

“I go to the water source three times a day, at 7am, 3pm and 6pm. In total, I fill nine 20-litre jerry-cans each day, for cooking, cleaning utensils, cleaning clothes and bathing the children. Before the borehole was built, that was a long time ago, we used water from shallow wells we dug here. But they were not clean and the children fell sick.

“When that day came last year when I heard that the borehole was broken, that was such a shock to me, I was completely out of my mind. We became displaced, it reminded me of the time of the civil war, when we had to run away from our homes because of fighting.

“Again when the water ran out, we had to move from our home and travel to the nearest city, to Burao, two hours away by car, where I rented a house which cost too much money. Everything was new to me and to the children and we couldn’t adjust.

UNICEF/ Pflanz
© UNICEF Somalia/ 2011/ Mike Pflanz
Mohamed Ali, Amina’s son, at school in the village of Wadaamagoo in Somaliland. When the borehole nearby broke down, they were forced to move to another town and enrol in an unfamiliar school.

“We moved to another town closer to here but it was the same, I can say that economically and socially we were isolated. The standard of living was not the same, the schools were more expensive, transport and books were more expensive. The children really could not integrate there, they would fight with the other children, there were always problems between me and the neighbours.

“I knew when the borehole was fixed because I was keeping closely in contact with home. Whenever I found someone from Wadaamagoo passing there in Burao, I was asking, “Has the situation changed? Is the borehole fixed?”

“When I heard it was fixed, I was so excited, I even made the children excited, I told them we were going home to our old house, to our camels, to our trees and the shade they give, to our soil. I couldn’t wait a moment longer to come home.

“Now we can drink water every day, we can wash clothes every day, the children can go to school clean each day, they are even healthier because of drinking clean water.

“Now we are home again, this is our environment, the kids know their teachers, they know their friends, they know the food, they know where they can play. Really, when they fixed the borehole, and we say thank you for that, that’s when our life changed back for the better.”

 

 
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