Somalilandsun:In Somaliland, water availability is naturally a seasonal issue. Having extremely low rainfall (250 mm per year on average) and much higher potential evaporation (over 2000 mm per year), the country is characterized as water-scarce. Much of the country has arid or semi-arid climate due to the extremely low and variable rainfall, which is often unreliable. The availability of sufficient water resources in Hargeisa has become critical.
The capital city,Hargeisa lies in the North Western part of Somaliland. It is the biggest and the largest city and one of the most important in Somaliland.
Hargeisa hosts the largest population in the country. The estimated number of people living in Hargeisa is approximately 1.5million, which means that the city has doubled its inhabitants in the past 20 years. As a consequence, the city has expanded tremendously towards all directions, and there are many new areas joining the city. As a result of increasing population and with the combination of inefficiency of the water management in the city, the availability of sufficient water resources has become critical. The demand for water has increased enormously, and water scarcity has become acute. The water-scarcity is not only limited to Hargeisa but effects the county as whole in similar or greater scale.
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. As mohamud Arale mentioned in his article entitled “Hargeisa Water Agency Needs a Total Overhaul” which is published in Somaliland sun in 2014. Mr arale stated in his article, 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 1.5million 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 casualties 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.
Donkey owners provide water to the houses
However, water distribution does not reach many parts of Hargeisa. Initially, when the water storages were built they were planned to provide water for approximately 300.000 persons which at the time was equivalent to the number of people living in the city. Now the number of people exceeds more than three times the intended. The demand for water is increasing, and also for the land. People compete for houses that are closer to the water reaching areas resulting in very high land prices.
The Hargeisa Water Agency has struggled to provide water for at least some parts of the city, even though there have been reports of mismanagement of the agency. Initially it allocated water equally for each neighborhood in Hargeisa (one night for one and the second night for another area and so on). The agency managed this status for a while and conducted it successfully. However, when the number of people living in the city continued to increase, the strategy could not work. The agency tried to use some other ways to distribute water to the city without success.
Today the provision of water is limited to certain areas in the city. The newly built houses in the outskirts of Hargeisa have never seen a running tap. There exist entire neighborhoods in the city which are suffering from the lack of water. There are also a considerable number of big hotels which experience the same scarcity.
Trucks and tanks
The pertinent question of managing the hazardous circumstances has been raised by many, and the situation has also created a lucrative business environment. For example there are quite a large number of truck owners who have benefited from the poor network of water distribution in the city. They have divided neighborhoods and made their own customers accordingly. The water is caught from neighboring small towns and villages mostly in the East and West of hargiesa.
Finally, it appears, it is beyond the government’s power to increase the water capacity of Hargeisa. it is simply beyond their means to open to debate this critics and find for an answers, and it is beyond the scope of this report. However, the recent water shortages demonstrations in the Capital (Hargeisa) has further cemented the deep frustration of the residents of Hargeisa in getting clean water.
By Abdisalaan Ahmed