Quenching thirst, quelling conflict: Stability Fund’s Water for Peace Projects save lives
Ceelbuh is a remote village located at the heart of Puntland State of Somalia and 144km from its capital city of Garowe. Founded approximately 60 years ago, the village is named for its bustling and busy hand-dug well – literally “the well of noise” – where verbal squabbles over fetching rights of the scarce water often escalated into shoving matches and sometimes even outright violence.
“People used to quarrel, shouting ‘it is my turn, no it is my turn,’ and that is how the well acquired its name,” says Said Muse Farah, a long-term resident of Ceelbuh.
Watering their livestock was a very difficult undertaking for villagers who often required the use of physically strong people to pull the buckets from the well. Scarcity often forced people to migrate to faraway places in search of water which entailed walking long distances.
Nestled in the mountains, 86 km north of Ceelbuh, is Buraan – a small town of 450 households. Buraan, too, has always been adversely affected by lack of water. The residents relied on a water source from the mountains that provided insufficient, unclean water.
“The scarcity of water often caused conflict,” says Osman Ali, a member of Water for Peace Committee in Ceelbuh. Besides the health effects and the violence, Amina Ahmed Issa, a woman that lived in Buraan for over 40 years, sheds light on the effects of water scarcity from a gender perspective. “We had only one source with inadequate quantity of water which requires physical strength to fetch. Women were often bullied by men,” she says.
In 2014, Puntland State Authority for Water, Energy and Natural Resources (PSAWEN) identified 5 locations – namely Ceelbuh, Dhudhub, Tawfiiq, Rako Raaxo and Xiriiro – with acute water shortage. In response, following a feasibility study and a community-based consultative process, SSF funded the construction of solar-powered boreholes with piping systems in five locations. Additionally, SSF funded a similar project in Buraan. Facilitated by CARE International, this project was identified through the Fund’s Community Driven Development (CDD) model — an inclusive consensus-based process that allows communities to participate in project management from problem identification to design to inception to its long-term sustainability.
With a solar powered borehole [/su_column] and a piping system that distributes water to four collection centers in the village, both the Ceelbuh and Buraan Water for Peace Projects have proven successful. Today, the Ceelbuh borehole is a source of water for over 2,000 people living in the village and its outskirts, and the Buraan borehole serves the 450 household in the small town.
“The adage that water is life only makes sense when one runs out of water,” says Abdirizak Adan, a resident of Ceelbuh. “The new borehole has brought water to our doorsteps. We cook and clean without having to walk long distances,” he concludes.
Amina Ahmed Issa adds that, “in the past, the lack of water forced residents [of Buraan] to hire a tanker to truck water from far away locations.” Following the construction of the borehole and the installation of water piping system, my household of 16 family members have running water in our house at $1 per meter-cubic”
In addition, the borehole in Ceelbuh was completed at a time when Somalia was hit by one of the most devastating droughts. Serving both human and as high as 1,000 of heads livestock that tracked for miles a day, the borehole became the savior for the drought-stricken victims from Nugaal, Mudug and Sool regions as they transited via Ceelbuh to Bari region in search of rain. Given the magnitude and severity of the drought, the committee that oversees the borehole, which normally charges a small user-fee to cover operational cost, made it free of charge for the drought victims from January to April 2017. “I can’t imagine how life would have been for those people without this borehole,” says Abdirizak Adan.
Sustainability is a cornerstone of SSF’s delivery as part of ensuring that investments continue to impact lives long after the life of the program. Two committees were therefore set up respectively in Ceelbuh and Buraan to oversee the boreholes—in particular, the committees manage the user-fee, which is collected from residents to cover post-installation maintenance and repairs as well as salaries to the caretakers of the water system.
Building on the success of this project, SSF is currently implementing a similar initiative in Warshekh, Middle Shabelle—an effort the Fund intends to roll out in other areas of Somalia where water scarcity is a significant contributor to incidence of conflict.
The old well in Ceelbuh is not covered making the water unsafe for consumption. It also needs physical strength to pull buckets of water for the livestock.
Using electricity generated by these panels, solar-powered water pump fill-up a nearby elevated tank with water from the borehole which is then distributed by the piping system.
The piping system distributes water to the households