ABUDWAQ, Somalia -- Halwo Hassan’s face glows when she looks at the shimmering water of the Dawaacale pan as it reflects the scorching Somali midday sun. She smiles as she begins to tell the story of her community’s long journey to create the reservoir.
Halwo and her community in Abudwaq, central Somalia, were hit extremely hard by the 2011 drought. So in late 2011 she and her neighbors decided to take the matters into their own hands, to provide water for their community and for their animals, which are their main livelihood.
Water had been a major concern in the village for years. People had to walk long distances – sometimes more than 10 kilometers – to fetch water, both for themselves and for their goats and camels. This sapped their energy and left them with little time for anything else, severely limiting their other economic and social activities. Frequent droughts in the recent past had eroded the community’s ability to cope, and they now had to grapple with the enormous challenge that stood before them.
In consultation with a local group called Alliance Organization Aid (AOA), the community approached the local WFP office in Galkayo with a plan: They would work on the water pan while WFP supported them with food as part of its Food for Assets livelihood programme. The food assistance allowed them to dedicate their time to the building the water pan instead of spending many hours each day seeking to meet their food needs during the hunger season.
The community leadership, the local administration and WFP all approved the project, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The water project was completed in 2012 and serves approximately 3,000 people. The project has reduced the distances that people have to travel to find water from more than 10 kilometers to only a few meters.
“The water point has reduced the risks that communities have faced due to trekking for long distances, especially violence against girls and women,” remarks Halwo. Moreover, it has enabled the community to better fight back against future droughts.
The chairman of the project, Hassan Gaas, shared the community’s plans to further improve the pan by lining it to reduce loss due to seepage and by increasing its capacity. This will allow the pan to hold more water for a longer period time.
“It is really a blessing for us” says Hassan.
Story by Yusuf Artan, Engineer, WFP Somalia