Solar panels used to pump water from the community wells in Wajid
In March 2014, the Somali National Army and AMISOM forces liberated Wajid district from Al Shabaab. Wajid district is located approximately 302 kilometres northwest of the national capital Mogadishu, 78 kilometres southwest of Hudur, and 69 kilometres southeast of the Somalia-Ethiopia border. The majority of Wajid district’s population and its satellite villages are pastoralists. The rest of the population relies on rain fed farms and small scale businesses.
Before March 2014, the town had been deserted due to insecurity, with its inhabitants having fled to surrounding areas. Following liberation, it was essential to support local governance structures to prevent a power vacuum and provide basic services to the people of Wajid. The Stability Fund, in partnership with the Nordic International Support foundation (NIS) was the first early recovery and stabilization program to enter Wajid. . In line with the Ministry of Interior and Federalism’s (MoIF) Stabilisation Plan, the Stability Fund conducted extensive consultations with the local authority and Wajid community. The exercise revealed that the courthouse and local authority offices had been looted and vandalized, leaving them in poor condition and making it difficult for the local authority to deliver basic services to the community. Water tanks and shallow wells frequented by the community also required rehabilitation.
Community well in Wajid
The community also faced other challenges caused by the occupation of Wajid district. Businesses had been closed down due to fear of Al Shabaab. Basic food commodities were difficult to obtain. They had to be supplied from Baidoa market, hundreds of kilometers away. Due to distance and insecurity, the price of essential commodities was high. Hard work from the community and local authority has since brought the town back to life. Small scale businesses continue to emerge in the town centre. This competition has brought down the price of commodities. A year ago, a kilo of sugar on the black market sold for as much as 68,000Somali shillings (USD 3). Today sugar is available in newly opened local stores for18, 000 Somalia shillings (USD 0.9). The price drop is a great relief to the community.
Shallow wells at Ceel Afweyne and Ellen Jedo were rehabilitated and mounted with solar powered water systems to increase their capacity and meet the needs of the pastoralist community. In an interview, Lish Sheekh Abdillahi, a teashop owner, described how her daily income has increased since the reconstruction of the two wells began. ‘At the beginning my income was very low, now I have to purchase additional supplies for preparing tea, and add snacks so as to meet the needs of my customers.’
The Stability Fund is working in several of the newly recovered districts to support communities and local administrations. The commitment shown by the citizens in the region is a source of inspiration, and the Fund will continue to expand its presence as more and more districts become accessible.