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In Somalia, a Public-Private partnership provides safe water to thousands

© UNICEF Somalia/2010/Morooka
Fatuma Osman, a mother of five, fills a container from the tap installed three months ago in her yard in Boroma town, north-west Somalia.

By Iman Morooka

BOROMA, Somalia, 29 July 2010 – Residents of Boroma town in north-west Somalia don’t take access to safe water for granted.

In recent years, depletion of the wells connected to Boroma’s urban water system caused a significant reduction in the town’s water supply. To cope with this shortage, the private company operating and maintaining the system decided to stop providing new household connections. The company also enforced a water rationing policy, limiting water supply to only twice a week for each location within the town.

In 2009, however, UNICEF supported the drilling of a new borehole connected to the town’s water system, leading to a drastic increase in water production. Boroma town now enjoys an uninterrupted supply of water.

Increasing water supply

“Although I desperately wanted to have a water tap in my house because of the inconvenience of having to buy water for the entire family every few days, I was told that there wasn’t enough water in our town to reach our house,” said Habiba Mohamed, a mother of five who lives with at the northern edge of Boroma town.

© UNICEF Somalia/2010/Morooka
Five-year-old Nura fills a cup from the water tap recently installed at her home in Boroma town, north-west Somalia.

But three months ago, the newly drilled borehole finally allowed Ms. Mohamed’s family to have a water connection. “I had saved up some money, so I requested to have the connection as soon as the water problem was solved,” she said, standing by the tap installed in her yard.

With contributions from the European Union, the Swiss National Committee for UNICEF and the Government of Denmark, UNICEF supported the drilling of the new borehole and its connection  to the Boroma water supply system, a project which has benefited the estimated 80,000 people living in the town.

Abderahman Mohamoud, a board member of Shaba Water Company, the private company operating and maintaining the system, said that after the extension of the water system the production of water increased by 30 per cent.

“Existing wells that had stopped generating water because of depletion regained their water level that had gone down during the past three years,” added Mr. Mohamoud. “Water levels in the depleted wells increased by nine metres after this project.”

Public-Private Partnership

The water supply in Boroma is managed through an innovative Public-Private Partnership approach introduced by UNICEF in the country. Through the partnership, the different and complementary roles of government and private sector are strengthened, with UNICEF acting as facilitator to the process. Today more than 90 per cent of water distribution is done through household connections in Boroma, and an additional 785 connections have been installed since the water system’s extension.

Fatuma Osman, a mother of five, said that her family’s life has changed since installing the new water connection earlier this year.

“Before this, we used to wait for the donkey cart to come and bring us water to buy every few days,” she said. “Sometimes, because of the water shortage, even the seller didn’t have water to sell. Now we have water in our house every day, all the time. It is clean. I feel safe because I can save it in my own containers  … we spend much less on water than before.”



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