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Somalia, March 2015: Improving urban water service delivery in Somaliland

UNICEF Somalia/2015
Eng. Abdirahman Abdisalam Shali, Director of Sustainable Management and Regulatory Framework, Somaliland Ministry of Water Resources.

By Athanas Makundi

March 2015, HARGEISA, Somaliland – Somaliland’s Director of Sustainable Management and Regulatory Framework, Ministry of Water Resources Eng. Abdirahman Abdisalam Shali speaks about the UNICEF water project funded by the EU and its aim to improving urban water service delivery through establishment of Public Private partnerships in Somaliland with specific focus on Tog-Wajaale town.

Question: What is the aim for the European Union (EU) funded urban water project in Somaliland?

Answer: Many people in urban and peri-urban areas of Somaliland, in particular those living in vulnerable households have no access to safe water. The EU water project is geared to improving urban water service delivery. The project is going to be implemented in four key towns of Somaliland - Boroma, Burao, Tog- Wajaale and Erigavo.

Question: Why was the Public Private Partnership model important in regards to the water project?

Answer: Public Private Partnerships (PPP) is model we have chosen for the sustainable management of water systems. It is one of the conditions the donors required in order to ensure that the water project once installed would be self-sustaining without requiring additional funding when and if something broke down. The PPP model has been implemented in Somaliland for over 10 years in Boroma town as a good example, where urban water service delivery has been sustained through the use of PPP model.

In the case of Tog-Wajaale water project, the Ministry of Water Recourses and the Local government (Town County Council of Tog- Waajale) represent the public and they own the asset on the behalf people.

The people who are investing on the project to run the water system represent the private sector. And the partnership is the aspect for both Public and Private working together through lease agreement or contracts.

We know public management is good regulator but it’s not very keen on maintaining the asset; there is corruption and sales collection may be misappropriated. Private management is good at running the systems but their weakness is that they are profit orientated. But we thought both public and private complement each other very well when properly regulated.

Question: How did you establish the Public Private Partnerships Company in Tog-Wajaale?

Answer: We started by mobilizing the community and called all the stakeholders, who included business people, academics, traditional leaders, community representatives, government officials, and the Ministry of Water Resources officials, UNICEF, EU and other agencies and held a workshop. The idea was first to make the people understand the water project, how they can participate and then we introduce the Public Private Partnerships model and other concepts and elaborated the benefits of PPP using the case of Boroma PPP example, for the sustainable management of the project.

We nominated a Tog -Wajaale water committee, which consists of 30 people including the Town Mayor who is the head of the committee, to facilitate the management process. The committee then selected trainees for PPP. We conducted several training workshops where we taught them about the relevant technical skills and sustainable management processes.

Question: What has been done so far in regard to Tog-Wajaale water project?

Answer: The master plan, which includes the water resources studies, engineering design and the business have been completed. The industrial plan are nearly finished. The formation of the PPP Company was completed in December 2014 with 40 shareholders, forming a company and depositing 300,000 dollars share capital in the bank. Part of the construction of infrastructure work has started For example, the water pipes and fittings have arrived. The contractor is mobilizing construction equipment and supplies and actual construction commences third week of March 2015.

The drilling of required separate boreholes for the Wajaale project have been advertised, tendered bids received and evaluated. The contracts for drilling the new borehole will be finalized in March 2015. The project is slowly taking good shape, despite the delays.

So far we have selected business people who will invest and buy shares. Some 40 people have been selected. Each of them has contributed about US$7,500 and the money in the bank totals US$300,000. This money will be used for repair work, piping connections and operational maintenance. The goal is to run project without any assistance from the donor or the government in the future.

The formation of the PPP Company in Tog-Wajaale has been completed led by the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR). The number of shareholders, share value and Board of Directors have been agreed upon in Tog-Wajaale. A Letter of Agreement has been signed between MoWR and UNICEF defining the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders. The water user association for Tog-wajaale project has been formed and trained. The Socail and evirnomenta impact assessment for the project has been completed including Tog-Wajaale project. The capacity assessment for the new water utility and building plans have need developed. The water regulation and Model contract for PPP have been finalized and will be used in Tog-Wajaale once the constructions works have been completed.

Question: What are the main challenges causing the delay of the project?

Answer: With the EU project, We don’t have enough funds to cover all the basic infrastructure components of the project. For instance, the master plan for Tog- Wajaale consists of six components –the slot covers the production- borehole construction, second covers the connection of pipes from borehole to the water tank, the third covers the transmission pipes from water source to areas of consumption. The fourth covers the reservoir construction, the fifth the distribution of water and the sixth covers the people living along the 20 km pipeline, If you don’t provide water for these people they will break the pipes. So we want to construct water shops or kiosks, where the people can access water.

Only three of these slots have been funded, these include, the transmission of pipes, reservoir, construction and the borehole. That’s why I keep saying fundraising is very important for this project. The funds given by the EU cover only 70 per cent that is on software –i.e. the master plan and establishing sustainable management systems such as PPP. Construction of the first phase of the project which includes the construction of 20km transmission pipeline including the costs of pipes, with 500 m3 reservoir tank and drilling and equipping the borehole. And apart from the funding issues, the supplies have take very long to arrive.

PPP is a relatively new concept to Somaliland; it has taken almost a year to make people understand what PPP is all about. We organized workshops and held meetings. So we worked together with the committees and to make them understand how process works. But it takes a long time for the local people to comprehend the concept.

Question: How will the water tariffs be determined once the project is up and running?

Answer: UNICEF and the Ministry of Water Resources are working together on the financial plan. So far we have worked on a tariff policy, which underlines that all the concerned parties should sit together and evaluate all the operational costs, the investments costs and the production quantity of water coming out. When you calculate all these costs with everything considered, we should come up with a suitable water tariffs that is acceptable and affordable.

Question: Do foresee a situation, where water tariffs will be unaffordable to the most vulnerable?

Answer: We are estimating in the first year, the price might be between $1 - $1.5 dollars per cubic metre. Already people in Tog -Wajaale are paying a lot more around $8 dollars per cubic metre from the water vendors. Now they will be paying less and I think this price is affordable. But in future, when the production of water increases the prices will come down year after year.




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