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Somalia, 27 September 2017: Families see water piped to their homes for the first time in Somaliland town

© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Makundi
A delighted young woman, Afsana, tries out the tap recently installed at their home in Buroa town, Somaliland as part of the water project funded by the European Union (EU).

 
By Athanas Makundi

Burao, Somaliland, 27 September 2017 - Halima Hussein Ismail has never imagined that one day she would get water directly from a tap in her own home in the drought stricken town of Burao in Somaliland. For years she, like most other women here, have spent hours walking to find water, which is often either too dirty to use or too expensive to buy. She proudly fills up a bucket of water from the tap in her backyard, and appears mesmerized by the sound.

“Water is everything in our life,” Halima tells a delegation of Somaliland government officials, along with EU and UNICEF officials, who visited her home during a monitoring visit. “You can imagine how happy I am to have this water in my house.”

Halima had been living in England since she was a little girl when her family fled the fighting to move there. Ever since they came back they found water has been a daily struggle.

“This water is going to change our lives forever,” said Halima. “We use it for drinking, cooking, cleaning, washing and for many other domestic chores. The water prices are affordable and depends on how much water you have used.”

The town of Burao has previously suffered numerous outbreaks of disease caused by contaminated water which should be resolved by the water supply funded by the European Union, UNICEF and a contribution from the Somaliland Development Funds. The towns of Boroma, Tog- Wajaale and Erigavo are also benefiting from the water project.

In Burao, a 14 kilometre pipeline, is connected to 16 boreholes outside the town. About 3,000 households are connected directly to the water system in addition to the 17,000 households already connected through Burao Water Agency.
 

© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Makundi
The Mayor of Tog Wajaale, Hashi Mohamoud Abdi, along with Ministry officials, UNICEF and partner representatives lay a foundation stone on the land where the offices of the Utility Water Company’s, will be located.

 
“At the moment water is pumped directly from a central distribution point to the homes,” says Faisal Hashi, the project focal point for the Ministry of Water Resources in Somaliland. “But this will change because, Somaliland Development Fund has funded the construction of two elevated water tanks of 100 cubic metres each. These tanks will act as the storage reservoir where water will flow by gravity to people houses.”

Burao water project is managed through the public utility system model, where the Ministry of Water Resources, Burao municipality, water agencies and the water board representing customer interests provides management, financial and technical oversight for the sustainability of the project.

“We have created Water User Associations to help manage and supervise the running of the water project,” says Mr. Hashi. “We have no doubt the project will succeed and not only benefit the people of Burao but the livestock as well, which are the backbone of Somaliland economy.”

In Tog-Wajaale town, in west Somaliland, a 24 kilometer pipeline has been connected to boreholes so water can be pumped into the storage tank of 500 cubic meters in the town. However, the distribution network to houses and other public places is still under construction.
 

© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Makundi
Children cool off as water sellers fetch water from the main storage tank in Tog Wajaale town, Somaliland built with EU funding. The distribution network to people’s houses and common public areas is underway.

 
“Everyone is anxiously waiting for this water,” says Mohamed Abdullahi Abdi, one of the water vendors allowed to fetch water from storage tank as part of the testing process. “My father’s generation used to fetch water about 25 kilometers away and we have been fetching water over 10 kilometers away. Now, I can’t believe water is so close.”

The EU project is delivered through a Public Private Partnerships (PPP) model, where the private investors through a lease agreement join the public sector and contributed certain amount of money towards the ownership and management of the project. A Utility Water Company called Caafi’ has been created to operate, manage and sustain the project.

“The PPP model is a fairly new concept in Somaliland,” says Mr Hashi. “We saw it working well in Boroma town, where it was implemented 10 years ago and the water service delivery has been sustained.”

Hashi Mohamoud Abdi, the Mayor of Tog- Wajaale town thanked the EU and UNICEF for their commitment to ensuring clean water reached the town. He announced that the municipal authorities have donated the land for the construction of the office space for Caafi, the water utility company, to manage and sustain the project.

At the end of the project, nearly 2.2 million people in Burao, Boroma, Tog- Wajaale and Erigavo will benefit from sustained water supply.

 

 
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