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Somalia, December 2015: European Union helping Somali residents to end decades-long water shortage

Voices of the People of Tog Wajaale

By Jamal Abdi Sarman

© UNICEF Somalia/2015/Sarman
Families in Tog Wajaale, Somaliland rely on water brought by donkey cart from open water sources.

TOG WAJAALE, Somaliland December 2015 – Residents in the town of Wajaale are optimistic the water shortage witnessed in the town for decades will end once the UNICEF/EU funded Public Private Partnership (PPP) project is completed.

Tog Wajaale is a Somali town on the border with Ethiopia that has a thriving trade and business relationship with its neighbour.

The mayor, Abdiaziz Saleeban, says the population is continually growing and services such as water are critical. “Apart from the major cities, we are one of the biggest towns in Somaliland,” he said. “There is a continuous flow of people settling in Wajaale from other regions most of are involved in trading.”

The town’s population gets its water from dams built by individuals which have unclean water and are shared with livestock like cows and camels.

Asha Ahmed Camir, a mother of four and a member of the newly formed Tog Wajaale Water Users Association, says it has always been a daily struggle to get water.

“I saw my mother going through it and now it’s my turn. We depend on the few surface water ponds for domestic water supply, which is transported from far off places by water tankers and donkey carts. The water tankers only serve household that can afford to buy at least five drums. People like us who can’t afford the high costs rely on donkey carts that take time to reach us.”

A Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) carried out in 2011, showed that only 42 per cent of households in Somaliland have access to clean drinking water. In 2015 UNICEF found in a similar survey, focusing on WASH indicators, that this has increased to 56 per cent, however over half the households in the country still take over 30 minutes to fetch water.

© UNICEF Somalia/2015/Sarman
Water Pipes ready to be laid in Tog Wajaale, Somaliland to as part of the UNICEF/EU project.

In 2012 Tog-Wajaale was chosen as one of four towns in Somaliland for the European Union funded project to improving urban water service delivery. The project involves creating Public Private Partnerships (PPP) to ensure provision of water supply will be self-sustaining. The Ministry of Water Resources and the local council represent the public and own the asset on the behalf people. The private sector is investing in the project to run the water system.

The project includes borehole construction, pipe connection, water reservoir connection, water shops and kiosks along the 20 kilometre pipeline. The population also has to be informed about the project and the cost of water.

“This is going to be beneficial to the majority of the population who are not doing well economically, the water we are told is going to be sufficient and affordable,” said Asha.

Asha together with her fellow members of the Water Users Association were given training in the project in Kampala, Uganda. The Association will mobilize and coordinate the participation of water users in Tog Wajaale district and serves as a forum for all beneficiaries to discuss, agree and advocate on the best way of utilizing the water resource.

The Vice Chairman of Tog Wajaale Water Company – the PPP Company has been named ‘CAAFI’ Water Company, a Somali word meaning “good health” that was formed with UNICEF support, Mursal Nuh said the foundation for the water supply was in place which includes two wells, installation of pipes, construction of the site to erect the reservoir tanks and formation of two community led committees.

“We have made progress and the main work that remains is the construction of the reservoir tank and the public water collection points or kiosks and water supply payment system,” he said.

The project, which is expected to be finished in October 2016 is causing great excitement among residents old and young.

“I was born in Tog Wajaale and we have been promised water since I was young, even by colonial government in the 1940s, but no water system was ever set up,” said Adan Mohamed, who at over 80 years old and is the eldest member of the Water Committee set up by the town’s residents. “I’m hopeful for the first time our wishes and dreams will be realised.”

 

 
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