UNICEF in Action
© UNICEF Somalia/2015/Makundi
Technical Capacity building at all levels
Limited human and financial resources are a considerable constraint for WASH sector development and responsible for the poor sustainability of WASH initiatives. UNICEF has the potential to support capacity building more systematically than it has in the past but the task is huge and UNICEF should collaborate with other actors to develop a comprehensive capacity development action plan. (The WASH Cluster commissioned capacity gap assessment and subsequent development of training tools for WASH NGOs is a good starting point.)
Stopping Open Defecation
UNICEF leads the advocacy on eliminating Open Defecation and facilitates government and other actors to work towards targets using CLTS approaches. Using this objective as an entry point, UNICEF can also play a role in empowering school children, youth, teachers, religious leaders and clan elders to change hygiene and sanitation behaviour within their communities.
Reducing the number of non-functional water supply systems
Given the relatively high rate of failure of rural and urban water supplies, the investment in improving existing water supply functionality will have a relatively higher impact on safe water access for women and children than investment in construction of new water supplies. UNICEF has the experience and credibility to support the considerable advocacy and technical support required to address the multiple institutional, technical, social and financial issues. Support to government in maintaining a comprehensive database of water supply systems and establishment of repair centers for water supply equipment (generators and pumps) are some of the strategies adopted by UNICEF in reducing the non-functional systems.
Improving WASH in schools, Maternal Child Health Clinics and Out Patient Therapeutic Clinics (WASH in Institutions)
When the school toilet situation is identified as a major culprit in low attendance and high dropouts among girls, the community, government and UNICEF and partners join forces to build facilities and a support system that reverse the trend. Safe drinking water and a safe place to use the bathroom are as important at teachers, classrooms, and books. With WASH facilities girls learn to observe, communicate, cooperate, listen and carry out decisions about hygienic conditions and practices for themselves. Their friends and younger siblings whose hygiene they may care for become beneficiaries from the empowerment of the girls. They will also learn about menstrual hygiene and physical and emotional changes during puberty.
New water supply construction in rural areas
UNICEF is the largest supporter of new and rehabilitated rural water supplies in Somalia and there is a need to continue to focus on underserved areas to reduce the inequities demonstrated by the recent KAP survey, particularly reducing distance to water for nomadic pastoralists and reducing reliance on surface water for many communities in Southern Somalia. Continued development of water supply in Somalia is crucial given the aging and destroyed infrastructure.
Support to development and enforcement of drilling standards
Concern over poorly developed boreholes and risk of over-exploitation of ground water have led UNICEF to engage in a debate over drilling standards. UNICEF could play a role in advocating and providing technical support to ensure that drilling standards are enforced and risks of proving poor quality or even hazardous water are reduced. Unless other actors take on this role it will continue to be crucial. It is very likely that the issues of chemical contamination are solved by proper drilling practices.
Governance and Policy support
UNICEF is a key actor in the water sector (urban and rural) in Somalia. UNICEF supports the WASH Humanitarian Cluster and Inter-Ministerial WASH Steering Committee (IWSC). The key priorities in governance includes:(i) To establish more effective surveillance and response to frequent disease outbreak and identify other, longer term health risks related to poor quality ground water and; (ii) to strengthen local water supply and sanitation and hygiene governance (e.g. Inter-ministerial Coordination mechanism for CLTS lead by the Ministry of Health).