Somaliland community invests in reliable water system
By Iman Morooka
Haraf Village, Somaliland, July 2008 - Water has long been a scarce resource in Somaliland where many of its population have to walk two hours daily, even five hours for some people, just to fetch water for their households. Where collecting water has traditionally been the task of women and girls, this harsh situation has hindered many young girls from attending school regularly.
But for 7 year-old girl Amira, where the water kiosk is located right in her own village, both going to school and fetching water are part of her daily routine. “I come once a day to get water. When I have school, I go either before school early in the morning or in the afternoon after school” said Amira.
Haraf Village, a few kilometers outside Hargeisa, the capital city of Somaliland, now enjoys a stable source of safe drinking water thanks to a water pumping system run by solar energy, which UNICEF supported setting up with funding from the Danish Government, in partnership with the Ministry of Water and Mineral Resources, NGO Red Sea, and the local community itself.
“Traditional generators are costly to operate and manage as they constantly require fuel and man power. With the rising fuel prices, conventional methods make it difficult for poor people to have stable access to water” said Ahmed Suldan, Director General at the Ministry of Water and Mineral Resources. “We have long hoped to introduce the solar energy powered equipment, and with the help of UNICEF, we were able to make this a reality in five villages so far”.
Haraf is one of the villages that benefited from the pilot project supported by UNICEF. Although the village used to get water from the hand-pump that UNICEF also has helped install more than 20 years ago, it has become extremely difficult to cover the needs of the increasing number of residents and internally displaced people (IDPs) in the area, and a diesel-powered system would be too costly for them to run and maintain.
Ali Aideed, the village elder and member of the local Water and Sanitation Committee, has donated the necessary land for setting up the new system, and continues to play a vital role in maintaining and managing the solar panel, the water tank and two water kiosks.
“Volunteers from the village clean the tank once a week, and they make sure that taps are well maintained and water is not wasted” said Aideed, who also took the lead in building fences made out of bushes around the solar panel. “The taps don’t only serve the people of Haraf Village. Residents from surrounding villages and IDPs, even trucks from the city of Hargeisa, come here to collect water” said Aideed.
Nafisa, a mother of six, goes to the water kiosk three times every day. “Now it is much easier for us to get water from the tap and it is cleaner and tastes much better than before because it comes from further deep. We still use the hand-pump water for the livestock and washing while the tap water is for drinking and cooking. Many of us need the water, so we have to use in moderation” said Nafisa.
“UNICEF continues to support local authorities, communities and the civil society to come up with different solutions to provide environmentally sustainable, stable sources of safe water, in a package that would include hygiene and sanitation promotion as well” said Ibrahim Ali, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Officer at UNICEF in the North West Zone of Somalia. “It is planned that later this year, we will also extend the water pipe to the village school in Haraf”.
Due to the general scarcity of water in the region, compounded by repeated droughts and the growing number of population, there is a growing need for finding long-term and low cost solutions to ensure the provision of water. This pilot project is an example of how, with a small investment and the strong commitment of the community leaders and members, a clean source of water can be made available for multiple communities.