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Water, a five letter word that means so much more in Mogadishu

A boy fetching water at the IDP camp

When we say the word water it seems to be just a five letter word but these five letters mean lives and livelihoods.  Each year millions of people die from diseases associated with the lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.  Global figures mask great disparities between regions and countries where the wealthiest people have seen the biggest improvement in accessing clean water and sanitation, while the poorest lag far behind.

Oxfam together with HIJRA have been supporting IDPs in Dayniile district of Mogadishu to access safe water supply through water fees and fuel subsidy for the last three years from vendors supplying water from boreholes nearby.  Through this partnership a solar pumping system was recently installed on two boreholes in the district in order to have a more sustainable water supply solution.

The water supply and distribution is managed by community committees at the source and IDP committees at the distribution points. “This borehole has been equipped with a new solar powered water pump so now we are very happy because IDPs in this settlement do not have to worry about accessing water anymore. Drinkable water can be easily obtained” says Mohamed, one of the community committee members at an IDP settlement in Dayniile district.

Clean water may sound simple. It is taken for granted in many parts of the world. But its impact is profound. It saves lives. It allows IDPs to stabilize, women to work and care for children. It also allows host communities to strengthen.

Solar panels

Fatima Haji, a mother of five who living in the settlement is pleased with the new system. “Thanks to the new solar system in our camp, I am able to fetch 100 to 200 litres of water every day unlike before when I would worry about where the next drop of water would come from.  Now I can get enough water for cooking and as well as washing clothes. To me, that’s a world of difference”, explains Fatima as she fetches a jerry-can of water from a tap near to her makeshift shelter.

Aisha Osman, who was displaced from Baidoa four years ago, now has a smile on her face.  With all the difficulties that living as an IDP can bring, she explains how her life and that of her children is being restored with hope.  “When I see these solar panels pumping water to the camp, I feel happy and comfortable. We can continue collecting water at our doorsteps at no cost. I can easily send my children to school since I no longer worry about how and where I can get water.”

Fitted solar panels

The new solar system has also prompted a lot of interest from other humanitarian actors on the ground, being the first of its kind to be installed in the area. It is expected to be followed by an increase in installation of similar systems in many IDP camps in Mogadishu.

Water is an essential resource for life. If people do not have access to water, they must go to where there is a supply in order to survive. In light of this, Oxfam in partnership with HIJRA is committed to supplying this essential commodity to reduce vulnerability of IDPs and host communities to public health risks associated with the inadequate access to safe and clean drinking water.

Text by Mohamed Omar – Hijra and Alexandra Chege – Oxfam

Photos by Mohamed Omar – Hijra

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