Water brings drought relief and a peace dividend in Central Somalia
© UNICEF Somalia/ 2011/ Warfa
Women and children in Galinsor town collect water from the newly drilled borehole
By Maulid Warfa and Douglas Abuuru
GALKAYO, Somalia, 18 April 2011 - In Galinsor town, Central Somalia (approximately 600 kilometres north of Mogadishu) as women fetch water and wash clothes and children play, builders are constructing a concrete elevated water tank and a place to house a generator.
They are completing the final stages of a UNICEF-supported water project to meet the needs of the 20,000 residents of Galinsor and nomadic populations from the neighbouring district of Hiran and from Ethiopia.
The project is being funded by the Italian Development Cooperation and included the drilling of a borehole - some 200 metres deep – that is already yielding 23,000 litres of water per hour in this drought-affected area.
A mother fetching water from the borehole says, “You cannot imagine what life was like before. Is there life without water? [When] the old borehole broke down, the entire town had to be on the road queuing up for [water from] tankers. The water was very expensive and we couldn't afford it.”
Access to water and land grazing rights in drought-affected Galinsor have been the source of great conflict between the three sub-clans that live there. For a while, these tensions led to fatal clashes that delayed the start of drilling the borehole.
However, at UNICEF’s insistence, meetings were organized with elders from the three communities and local authorities to discuss and work out their differences. It was not an easy process: negotiations took nine months to resolve, yet once settled and drilling began, it only took 10 days to actually deliver water.
Now UNICEF and community elders are holding discussions on the formation of a water committee to manage the new resource and are considering a collaboration between local authorities and businesses – a public-private partnership - to ensure sustainability.
In addition to delivering water, the new borehole brings a peace dividend. Stability and security are more likely when communities have no need to fight over scarce resources.