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Somali villages invest in solar-powered pump, with high returns

© UNICEF Somalia/2008/Morooka
Amira, 7, pushes home the jerry can that she has just filled with safe water from a solar-powered pump.

By Iman Morooka

HARAF VILLAGE, Somaliland, Somalia, 22 July 2008 – Water has long been a scarce resource in Somaliland, where a two- to five-hour daily walk to fetch household water is not uncommon. Collecting water has traditionally been the task of women and girls, who are therefore unable to attend school regularly.

Amira, 7, is luckier. She lives in a Haraf village, a few kilometres outside the capital of the self-declared republic of Somaliland in north-west Somalia. Haraf is one of five local villages that have been able to install water kiosks with help from UNICEF.

That means both going to school and fetching water are now part of Amira's daily routine. “I come once a day to get water. When I have school, I go either before school, early in the morning, or in the afternoon after school,” she said.

Haraf ‘s new source of safe drinking is a solar-powered water pump installed by UNICEF with funding from the Danish Government, the Ministry of Water and Mineral Resources, the non-governmental organization Red Sea and the local community.

Environmental and economic benefits
Before the installation of the solar pump, Haraf relied upon an older, UNICEF-supported hand-pump system. In service for nearly 20 years, the old pump had become insufficient for the population, which has swelled with displaced people.

© UNICEF Somalia/2008/Morooka
Nafisa fetches water every day for her family from the recently set up taps in Haraf village, Somaliland.

“Traditional generators are costly to operate and manage, as they constantly require fuel and manpower. With rising fuel prices, conventional methods make it difficult for poor people to have stable access to water,” said Director General Ahmed Suldan of the Ministry of Water and Mineral Resources. “We have long hoped to introduce the solar energy-powered equipment, and with the help of UNICEF, we were able to make this a reality in five villages so far.”

The kiosk in Haraf serves more than just the village. Residents from surrounding villages and even trucks from the capital, Hargeisa, use the water source. In the coming year, the pipe will be extended to the village school, according to UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Officer Ibrahim Ali.

Precious resource
Nafisa, a mother of six, goes to the water kiosk three times every day.

“Now it is much easier for us to get water from the tap, and it is cleaner and tastes much better than before because it comes from further deep,” she said. “We still use the hand-pump water for the livestock and washing, while the tap water is for drinking and cooking. Many of us need the water, so we have to use in moderation.”

Volunteers from the village clean the tank once a week and check the taps for wear. They also monitor usage, to be sure the precious resource is not wasted. 

Due to a general scarcity of water in the region, there is a growing need for finding long-term, low-cost solutions to ensure the safe water supply. This pilot project is an example of how, with a small investment and the strong commitment of community leaders and members, a safe source of water can be made available for multiple communities.



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