In early 2014, the Stability Fund begun working with the Puntland Ministry of Interior (MoI) on conflict mitigation and peace building. A major aspect of the work was to employ and adapt traditional methods of arbitration (Xeer) to support conflict mitigation and peace building. Supporting reconciliation between communities in Bari and Karkaar region was a key priority for the Government of Puntland. In March 2015, after several mediation talks led by the reconciliation committee from Bari and Karkaar a comprehensive peace accord was signed, and an agreement on the compensation modalities and the timeframe was reached. Nine months on from the peace deal, hostilities have abated, there is no record of revenge killings and 30% of the total compensation agreed has been repaid (affected communities agreed to defer the remainder).
In Puntland, severe droughts punctuated by devastating floods occur frequently. In such situations, the community mobilizes their clan s to get the resources necessary for survival, particularly when wells and rivers run dry or the community is faced with low annual rainfall. Sharing precious water can create solidarity and unity, but it can also cause bloodshed over its scarcity. A small water dispute between two people can easily spill over into years of violence between clans or communities.
Building on the success of the Karkar-Bari peace agreement, the Government of Puntland requested the Stability Fund to drill boreholes in five locations where access to water has been a longstanding driver of conflict. The communities in these areas were dependent on rainwater reservoirs owned either privately or by the community.
The “Water for Peace” project began with a site visit in December 2014 with participation from the Stability Fund team, the State Water Authority and Puntland State University to assess the prospects of finding water in the five proposed locations. A Vertical Electrical Sounding (VES) survey was carried out by engineers. Scarred from years of conflict, people were reluctant to recount events from the conflict. Addressing his village, one clan leader said: “Whoever was present during that terrible period knows what happened. Recounting the costs is not something I would like to do today”. To ensure the project did not exacerbate conflict, the Stability Fund closely consulted with Government representatives, cultural and religious leaders, as well as women and youth in the five areas.
Borehole drilling is planned in five locations, namely Towfiiq, Ceelbuh, Dhudhub, Rako-Raaxo and Xiriiro. Thus far, in Towfiiq and Ceelbuuh, drilling has successfully been completed. The district mayor of Towfiig was extremely excited: “I never thought a borehole will be drilled for this community within the next generation, we are a marginalized community located in a conflict zone which is very difficult to access. I am very thankful to God; we now know our worries about water have been resolved. We can look to the future and development of our community’s needs for other basic services we still acutely lack”.
Drilling works in the remaining three sites are underway. Currently, drilling in Dhudhub is near completion, and preparation has started for Rako-Raaxo and Xiriiro. The Stability Fund hopes that the boreholes will augment the peace by replenishing depleted water resources and encouraging community cohesion and peaceful co-existence, reducing the risk of renewed water-based conflict in the area.