Restoring hope through provision of water in Dollow
"They say water is life"
“To be honest, the situation has never been like this before. I do not know what is going on, the rain is not here anymore. Our livestock have been wiped away, the few that have remained are weak and it is only a matter of time before they succumb to the drought conditions. Getting water has not been easy before and it is much more difficult now,” said Sahra Abdi, a 29-year-old mother of five children among thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Dollow who have struggled to access safe, clean and reliable water. “I have been in this region all my life and have never seen a drought like the one we are experiencing now. Everything just literally dried up right in front of our eyes.”
Sahra’s home is a fragile shelter that is made up of orange plastic sheets and fabric lashed together with cord and stripped branches. It is one of thousands scattered over the dry bare land. Behind a thorn barrier marking her territory, she pulls two chairs for her guests and narrates the ordeal she has been through. Due to drought, Sahra fled her home in the Somali Region of Ethiopia in 2021. Her main economic activity was selling vegetables at a small shop to earn a living. Currently, she has no reliable income. Apart from the lack of a sustainable and reliable income, she says that one of the biggest challenges they faced upon fleeing to Dollow was water shortage.
“Water is life, they say. When it becomes all that you need to survive, rarely will anything cross your mind other than to quench your thirst. For most of us, safe water means water that will not make us sick if we drink it. The importance of access to clean drinking water cannot be overstated,” Sahra says.
Before UNICEF constructed twenty-five elevated water tanks that are filled at least twice a day and benefit around 5,000 new IDPs, access to safe drinking water was a nightmare in Ladan camp, in Dollow. The women and girls were the most affected due to the ascribed gender roles. Every day without fail these women and young girls would walk long distances to the nearest water source, overcoming several challenges. “Collecting water takes time. To get water for drinking, bathing, cooking, and other household needs, we used to spend hours every day traveling to water sources, waiting in line, and carrying heavy loads several times a day. Often that water is not clean for human consumption,” says Sahra.
“For us to get clean and safe drinking water, it often required long, arduous hours of walking to the nearest water source which at times can be insecure. This is a task I did not look forward to” she says. “With this newly constructed water source that has been built by UNICEF, all our water problems have been addressed. The water source is a few meters from my home, and this has really solved a lot of challenges for not only me but the community here. It was a big relief,” says Sahra.
With support from OCHA Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene project has changed lives of 15,000 people in the community. The water is free and there are no hidden charges. Apart from provision of sustainable water supply system, UNICEF constructed 70 communal latrines for 3,500 people in the Ladan IDP settlement. This was accompanied by hygiene kits distribution and hygiene promotion activities.