Somaliland: Hargeisa Water Agency Needs a Total Overhaul

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Hargeisa based Donkey carted water disributors scamble for their merchandise

By: Mahmoud Arrale

Somalilandsun – Hargeisa water supply is marred by both poor management and a lack of a clear strategic vision of viable development policy on Hargeisa water, an investigation by an independent consortium of intellectuals (ICI) in Hargeisa reveals.

Over the past 18 years the population in Hargeisa was experiencing increased demand of water as the population was exponentially exploding. Currently, 70 percent of the estimated one million people in the city relies on water trucking from Hargeisa vicinity for their daily water consumption which costs them a large proportion of their income.

This unremitting water problem and the unconcerned feeling of Hargeisa Water Agency towards those affected as well as the lack of the Central Government intervention in this matter has frustrated many people, particularly the poorer families.

However, the recent strike by water tankers held in a bid to defy the newly legislated exorbitant levies on transport, has further exasperated the existing frustration and resulted in the launching of the mass demonstration that left with some serious causalities in late December 2013.

Those compounded distresses have prompted some independent intellectuals in Hargeisa to conduct a research which has exposed in-depth information of the outcry and the root causes of the water shortage: lack of viable development policy and management flaws on the agency.

The research has revealed a significant economic disparity among the Hargeisa residents as a result of the water authority’s preference of certain areas, leading to a flaw in the management over the available amount of water.

In early 1990s, the city has a system of allocation on the water usage to serve all parts of Hargeisa where the mains are connected but now only 26 June and Koodbour sectors receive or utilize over 69% of the current water supply from the main source – Geeddeeble.

However, the other sectors of the city (Ahmed dhagax, Mohamoud Haybe, Ga’an Libah) receive only 21% of the water from the mains run by the agency, even though they account to more than 60% of the overall population of Hargeisa. The residents in 31 May, Mohamed Moge and M.Harun are totally dependent on water trucking as they are outside the limits of the water supply network.

The investigation also explored the socio-economic aspect of the water issue in Hargeisa and revealed that there is a significant amount of money saved by those people who have an access to Hargeisa water supply in contrast to those who have not.

As the report finding showed, there is a great variance over household expenditure on water between the beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of Hargeisa water supply. In comparison, the poorer families who depend on water trucks spend around $160 per annum on water while their counterparts who use water from mains spend only $34 instead.

Similarly the more economically better families who also depend on water trucking spend $672 a year while those their homes connected to water mains pay $150 per annum. That means a well-off family who is connected to the mains pays $10 less per year than a poorer family that lives in an area without water supply line and at the same time, the wealthy -family uses 6200 litres equivalent to 31 barrels of water annually more than that disadvantaged family.

The ICI report highlighted also a number imperfections related to the planning and implementation stages of the new water expansion project under the control or the management of Hargeisa Water Agency (HWA).

The new projects are intended to alleviate problems of the water shortage in the city by supplying enough clean water to all the sectors of the town including to those without the water connections now. The two projects in question are Hargeisa Urban Water Supply Upgrading Project (HUWSUP) and Haraf water project.

The Hargeisa Urban Water Supply Upgrading Project is a 42 month scheme of construction and capacity building costing EUR-16.5-million which is jointly funded by the European Union (EUR-15.5-million) and the UN-Habitat (EUR-1million) in 2012 in achieving the recommendations of the EU funded study in 2008.

Hargeisa water Agency

The project is implemented by UN-Habitat in partnership with the Hargeisa Water Agency and the Somaliland Ministry of Water Resources.

The independent consortium of intellectuals (ICI) further blamed the manager of Hargeisa Water Agency, Mr Ibrahim Siad Yonis to have changed the original scope of the project initially set out in the recommendations of EU funded study after UN-Habitat has consulted with him on the utilization of donated funds for the project.

Mr Yonis has submitted his master plan to UN-Habitat during the consultation in which he outlined to replace the existing two parallel transmission pipes of 12 inch diameter each from Geed Deeble with a new single 24 inch diameter pipe, to repair existing Water Tank at Biyo Khadar and to restore some of the existing wells at the source as well as carrying out a capacity building activity for the agency. The UN-habitat is acting upon this master plan now for the implementation of this crucial project and partially shelved the projected objective of the unabridged funded project.

A senior water Engineer, Mr Ali Haibe Mohamed, who involved in the inception of Hargeisa Water supply in 1970s as well as the later restoration of the system in 1991 and late 1990s has also voiced concern over this plan in February 2013 according to local media outlets (Somaliland press and Somaliland sun).

The ICI report asserts that the original aim of the project was to alleviate the water scarcity in the city by finding additional water sources to increase the present water output of the Agency in order to reach those sectors without the clean water but not only to restore the existing network without increasing output which means, despite spending all that money, the same beneficiaries of the old system are still being served in this master plan without offering a drop to the other proposed beneficiaries of the project.

In addition, the report disclosed that the second water project at Haraf (a mini system), is ended up with disappointment after the system has been completed without enough yield from the newly constructed dam at Haraf. As per the revelations, the project was started in hast by Hargeisa Water Agency without proper feasibility study so in a sense this was merely a layman’s project which was uncritically funded.

The project funds were jointly contributed by UNICEF, UNDP, Hargeisa local Government and Hargeisa Water agency. This unsuccessful project cost to the contributors accounts to US$1,000,0000: A waste of resources.

This project was intended to provide enough clean water to displaced families relocated from Sha’ab area and settled in Abdi Iidan 1&2 and sheikh Omer as well as previous families in the south-west outer edge of the city – a waterless area.

Hargeisa residents demonstrate against water shortage/file

However, the situation of the families in those quarters are almost remains the same as understood in the investigation.

As the report mentioned, the third water project, Humbo weine, a two phase project wholly sponsored by the United Arab Emeritus Government and contracted out by Al-Khalifa foundation for its implementation is the only project that the Hargeisa water Agency was not consulted with and it is the only successful project so far as the first phase has successfully finalized and the second one to start if not impeded by the Manager of Hargeisa water agency and the Minister of water.

The Humbo Weine project is expected to provide enough clean water to the eastern and southern parts of Hargeisa that have an acute water shortage. The people in Hargeisa are generally looking forward to seeing the commencement of the second phase of this project and their hope was finally realized when a visiting representative from the Al-Khalifa Foundation arrived this week in Hargeisa to have the endorsement and blessing of the project from the Presidential office which have finally been given on January 16th, 2 014.

It seems that all doubts surrounding this phase of the project is now being eliminated (at least by inking the endorsement now), though the people in Hargeisa were not happy on how the visiting members of the Foundation were treated by some individuals with authority who had initially with some unclear agenda up their sleeve.

The people are grateful to both UAE and Al-Khalifa Foundation for this valuable project and also happy to see the blessing of the project by the Presidential Office.

Finally, the report makes a set of recommendations that the writers deemed necessary to attain better operating Water supply agency for the benefit of Hargeisa Community.

These recommendations are mainly addressed to the President who nominates the manager of the Agency by decree and are:

1. To review the Hargeisa water supply development policy and the current master plan by considering the actual demand of the City now and in the future, as an inclusive and community owned initiative that can attract new investors in the water sector.

2. To encourage the implementation of Humbo Weine water supply project, as it is the light in the tunnel for Hargeisa community by providing an additional source of clean water to major parts of Hargeisa and alleviates the water scarcity in those areas.

3. To completely review the Hargeisa Urban Water Supply Upgrading Project before it is commenced by UN-Habitat to meet the initial funded objective of the project.

4. To establish additional water reservoirs to cover the whole city.

5. To appoint a board of directors representing the community and other stakeholders to help the proper management of Hargeisa Water Supply by ensuring the sustainability of the system and the equal distribution of water to all parts of the city

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