Halima’s Story: With water, life is better

In Somalia, the majority of the population relies on agriculture and grazing for their livelihoods. However, successive seasons of poor rainfall have caused prolonged droughts, and series of poor harvest and animal deaths. This hashad forced previously well thriving families to abandon their traditional livelihoods after series of poor harvest and animals deaths due to the prolonged drought. In Kismayo district (in lower Jjuba region, southern Somalia), thousands of destitute families were left no option but to join sprawling Internally Displaced Persons camps or move to villages in the outskirts of urban towns.

86% of the population relies on agriculture and grazing for their livelihoods
2.2 million Somalis face hunger so severe that it threatens their lives or livelihoods

Serious droughts cause major displacements

During a visit to Wadajir village (outskirts of Kismayo), ACTED teams met a 57 years-old mother of seven named Halima. Like thousands of families, Halima’s family fled their home because of unforgiving drought that swept away their  livestock. Before the drought took its toll on their herds of goats and cows, Halima was able to cover the families’ needs such as food, clothing and education. The family survived the recurring droughts by moving their animals from one place to another in search of greener pastures and water. However, the serious drought that hit Somalia in 2016-2017  forced her to flee to other villages in search of aid.

Halima is chatting with an ACTED field member.

Our longstanding water shortage is widely known but the failing rains made it worse. Most of our animals died and the remaining ones could not walk all the way to Kismayo for water. This condition forced us to leave our pastoral life and join this village


Unfolding consequences: Precarious living conditions

With only two cows remaining from her herd of cattle, Halima along with her husband and seven children settled in Wadajir village,  now at the mercy of well-wishers and aid organisations operating in the area. As the rainy season approached, Halima started to cultivate a rain-fed piece of land next to her homestead and planted maize for household consumption.

However, the family had to walk about four hours every day to fetch water for their basic daily needs. As a consequence, Halima would occasionally buy cheap saline water for cooking and washing. In addition, she would buy a 20 litre Jerrican of fresh water per day for drinking, and, to save water, further limiting the bathing times for her family members to only two times a week.

Safer, closer and more affordable water

To tackle the issue of access to water, ACTED and its local partner Social-life and Agricultural Development Organisation (SADO) built a 400m3 artificial elevated reservoir called a ‘Berkad’, with the support of the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO). The water storage facility has water canals that channel rainwater into the reservoir through a  series of filtration systems. Water from the berkad is pumped into the elevated tank using a solar powered generator enabling ease of drawing water. The water installation in Wadajir village came as a relief to the villagers as it made water safer, closer and affordable to the villagers, particularly during dry seasons.

Re-establishing water access in Wadajir

After getting the cheap water at her disposal, Halima now gives water to her cows on a daily basis and uses two-three jerricans of fresh water per day for drinking. Bathing times are no longer limited and all family members can take a bath on a daily basis, which is liberating for the families. Moreover, fetching water far away from home also generated gender-based violence concerns for women.

Halima is fetching water from the new 'berkad' set up by ACTED

No one can survive without water, we no longer have to walk all the way to Kismayo for water, we have cheap water at our doorstep, I can comfortably fetch water and then go and look for my daily bread


This risk has been reduced as water is now delivered to their doorstep. In addition, the teams created a water management committee composed of villagers to ensure the efficiency of this new water system. The recent rains filled the berkad to half its capacity and the residents agreed to save it for future consumption. As the village continues to rely on other sources during the wet season, this water should help them for the dry season.

The STREAM project (Social Safety Nets), funded by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) builds household and community-level resilience to droughts and other hazards by providing improved access to cleaner and safer water, which leads to healthier society and safety to women and girls.

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