Salalah Water Project on Socotra Island
Ending the Long Suffering of 400 people
Arif Shawniyeh is a disabled young man with a family of five in the Salalah area, west of Hadibu city, in Socotra Island
“Bringing water was arduous, tiresome, and dangerous, especially during the rainy season because the well is swamp,” Arif said, describing the difficulty faced by his people.
Women of the village carried container filled with 60 liters of water on their heads, shoulders, and backs, just to meet their families’ daily needs. This was especially difficult following periods of heavy rain, when swamps overflowed, contaminating water sources with dirt, algae, and waste matter. Women suffered the heaviest burden since the lack of accessible water meant that they had to neglect other areas of life, unable to prioritize other roles in their family and society.
Shawniyeh adds that he lives with his mother, wife, and two daughters—Mayada, aged four, and Nada, aged two. He herds sheep and works in local clinics since receiving his Diploma in Public Health. Due to the deteriorating health situation, he has seen so many worst cases, especially among children, many as a result of poor standards of drinking water. The 2018 cyclones also presented challenges in relation to a nearby swamp, with residents fearful that children might drown in the rising water levels. The swamp was also a haven for mosquitos, which bring often fatal diseases to children.
End of Suffering
Shawniyeh described UNICEF and the European Commission’s intervention in the Salalah Water Project, as a necessary and resounding success. It brought clean water to the 250 people of the village, drastically improving quality of life for the locals, whose children now enjoy the care of their mothers, who are better equipped to maintain health and hygiene. The availability of readily accessible water also opened new horizons for the local communities, who could participate in agriculture and other activities that were previously hindered by water scarcity.
Alaa Omar Ba Mahimoud, a civil engineer at the Photocad Engineering Group for Contracting and Consulting that has implemented the projects, says that the impact of the floods that occurred in Socotra were extreme on the Salalah area. Locals had no access to clean water for nearly a month, so they were forced to bring water by trucks, which cost large sums of money since there were no organizations supporting them in this aspect during the flood period.
Ba Mahimoud indicated that people in the Salalah area suffered greatly because of their dependence on water from wells and cisterns (ground tanks for harvesting rainwater). The Salalah Water Project ensured that every home in the area is connected to a water network to access clean, running water in their homes. The project also considered the development of the area through the establishment of farms and nurseries to locally grow fresh produce.
“The project is supported by UNICEF with funding contribution from the European Commission and implemented by the Photocad Engineering Group for Contracting and Consulting. The project implemented a solar energy system consisting of 10 panels and built a reservoir to collect water with a capacity of 50 cubic meters to be distributed through a water network to every home in the area. The local swamp where the well was previously located was also filled as part of the initiative, making it safe place for children and animals,” Ba Mahimoud added.
The project was completed within 70 days, and 12 workers participated in it, including 8 residents of the area, who collaborated with Photocad to accelerate the implementation of the different phases of the project.
Muhammad Saleh Al-Amoudi, civil engineer of the Salalah Water Project emphasized the installation of the solar energy system, which relieved beneficiaries of fuel costs and other requirements for the generator and its regular maintenance. Considering the environment-related aspects on the island and the endangered endemic species, clean energy is also sustainable for the health of the environment.
Wins of the Project
Shawniyeh said that with the solar energy system, water supply is available throughout the day, avoiding additional costs. The availability of water also encouraged residents to plant home gardens and a number of palm trees that decorate the area and contribute to the provision of vegetables that were not previously available. A water pipe has also been allocated in the reservoir to fill water truck tanks that transport water to neighbouring areas and reducing transportation costs to benefit others.
Shawniyeh said that another initiative of the project was improving sanitation in the area. Despite large households of five families, homes relied on a single bathroom and each household was relying on one bathroom despite a large number of household members. The project ensured that large homes have over four bathrooms which was introduced for the first time.
The Water Project brought water and sanitation to the village, transforming the lives of hundreds of residents in the island. Clean, accessible water has allowed locals to break the cycle of underdevelopment that trapped the village, opening opportunities for social and economic growth.