In drought ravaged Somaliland, water is a scarce and precious commodity. Only 30 per cent of residents in the capital, Hargeisa, currently have access to mains supplies. The pipelines are outdated and more than 700,000 people out of the 1 million population are relying on private water trucks for their daily needs. The trucked water is pumped from contaminated aquifers and five times more expensive than piped water. Diarrhoea and waterborne diseases are prevalent.
But plans are underway to change this. Thanks to funding from UK Aid, the Somaliland Development Fund and the UN, the Hargeisa Urban Water Supply Upgrading Project is constructing a 23km long pipeline from the village of Geed Deeble to Hargeisa. The pipeline will draw water from boreholes, increasing the amount of water available by 60 per cent.
Although nearly all of the pipeline has been laid, the presence of bedrock has made the final 100 metres almost impossible—five excavators have been damaged in the attempt! So, in February 2019, HALO responded to an urgent request for assistance.
We were able to draw on our skills and resources to blast away the bedrock using plastic explosives and stockpiled anti-tank mines. Over a period of several days our national and international staff carried out a series of controlled explosions, overseeing the work of the Somaliland Armed Forces and local labourers.
Once the pipeline is complete, 800,000 people will have access to a safe and sustainable water supply (either through directly piped water or water kiosks), ensuring a more equal distribution of this precious resource. Waterborne diseases will be reduced and a secure water supply will increase opportunities for economic growth.
HALO is proud to have been able to use our expertise to support a project that will help some of Somaliland’s most vulnerable families and ensure that no one is left behind by lack of access to this basic human right. We were grateful to receive the personal thanks of H.E. President Muse Bihi Abdi for our contribution.