By Maslah Mumin | BORESHA Project - "The long journey for water"
Issack Liban is a 56-year-old chief from Abore village in Gedo Region of Somalia who has worked tirelessly to lobby for the construction of a water reservoir for his village. For vulnerable and conflict-affected populations residing in Somalia’s Gedo region and specifically Abore village, access to safe drinking water often requires long, arduous hours of walking to the nearest water source. Abore Village, which is one of BORESHA’s target locations, is about 15 km from Dollow town where our offices are located. Staff are normally dropped off at the banks of Jubba river before crossing the river using a makeshift wooden raft then walking for a distance of 5km in order to access the remote village that borders Ethiopia in order to provide critical services including construction and rehabilitation of key water sources. Due to insecurity and the amount of time required to reach clean water, many individuals especially women frequently resort to drinking dirty, stagnant surface water, such as from puddles or rivers, that may have also been used for bathing, washing clothes, and cleaning kitchen utensils.
Meeting Chief Issack
Mr. Issack gets out of one of the aqals dressed in a yellow sarung locally known as macawis, white shirts with a sheet over his shoulders, a hat and a pair of unpolished black open shoes. He quickly moves in our direction after having a word with one of his children. He greets the team with Islamic greetings and apologizes for the noise from the children adding that, “this is what happens whenever we have guests, the children are all over the place”. Just as he concluded his statement, the son he was talking to, shows up with a flask full of tea and three iron cups locally known as “shakaba”. Mr. Issack has four children.
After speaking about current affairs, weather patterns, local developments among other general and contextual issues, Mr. Issack began painfully narrating the havoc caused by the lack of clean safe water in the village and the arduous journey they have had to make on a daily basis in order to access this precious commodity.
The grueling journey for water
For several decades, access to clean safe drinking water was a nightmare for the community members of Abore village in Somalia, the women and girls were the most affected due to the ascribed gender roles, they would occasionally be joined by young boys. Every single day these women would walk for more than 10 km round trip to the nearest water source overcoming several challenges including the unforgiving heat that sometimes reaches 39°, tough terrain and often having to carry the loaded water buckets on their backs on their way back home. We were taken aback by this story, not that it was news to us but rather a confirmation of the resilience of women in this part of the world, the ability to undergo such a daily nightmare and adapt to the situation is beyond commendable.
“As the chief of this village I have visited a number of NGO offices in Dollow town to lobby for the construction of a borehole or any type of water system for several years to no avail, however I never gave up,” Said Issack. In early 2019, the project conducted water survey and design, identifying the crucial need for Abore village community.
To address the water shortage in this village, BORESHA constructed a hand-dug generator powered well, pump house, storage tanks, water trough for cattle and water kiosks located at the centre of the village, accessible to the 300 households. This was the first step of a new era for the villagers: accessing quality water quickly and easily. “I thought the struggle for water would never end. I worried about water more than anything else in my life. It has been so long since I saw clean water in my village; it’s like a miracle to be honest. The majority of you will never know the worth of water until the well or taps run dry, that is why today I am very grateful to BORESHA for this intervention which has saved our children from water borne diseases and our people from the daily nightmare of walking for several kilometers, history has been made today,” said Issack.
Through the support of the BORESHA programme, which is funded by the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the community formed a water management committee to properly look after the water pumps, instruct local mechanics how to maintain and repair the water pumps, and encourage residents to contribute towards repair costs. “This water system is not meant only for us, but for generations to come, you can rest assured that we will take care of this asset as if our lives depended on it since it literally does,” said Issack.
For BORESHA this is an important step forward. But we cannot rest until we ensure that all earmarked construction/rehabilitation of key water sources in the cross-border areas of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are completed and that the communities residing there have access to clean water and sanitation that they and their families deserve. Together, we can achieve a world in which clean water for everyone is no longer a luxury, but a standard.
Next time you open your tap, and keep it running, remember there are millions of people across the word and certainly in Somalia who do not have that privilege.
- Publication date
- 21 September 2020
- Horn of AfricaSomalia
- Strengthening resilience
- CAREDanish Refugee CouncilWorld VisionWYG International Limited