First village borehole enables drought-displaced families to return to their farms in Baidoa

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Haween biyo ka dhaansanaya ceelka laga qoday Salbuy/Muxyadiin Xusni/Ergo Photo | Women queueing for water from the first borehole in Sulbuy village/Muhyadin Husni/Ergo

Radio Ergo 24 May, 2017 BAY


(ERGO) - Nurto Hussein Mohamed recently received a call from people in her village in southern Somalia’s drought-stricken district of Baidoa, telling her a new borehole had been dug and she could come back home from the displacement camp.  

Nurto, 38, left Salbuy village with her family of eight in January because of the water crisis. The farm land had dried up and she could not meet the family’s basic needs. So they joined the hundreds of others in a similar position in the over-crowded Liban 1 IDP camp in Baidoa town.  

This month, however, some rain started falling in the areas and Nurto went back and planted sesame, maize and beans, using seeds she borrowed.

The solar-powered borehole constructed in the village by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) gave her confidence that if the rain is insufficient there is another source of water to draw on for both crop irrigation and household use.

This village, as with many others in the district, has depended on water pans filled by rainwater. That meant when the rain failed, so did the harvest.

“I am happy that I can get this water in my village free of charge,” she said, standing in line with three jerry cans to fill from a tap connected to the borehole.

Since the three water pans in Salbuy dried up two years ago, Nurto had been walking 18 kilometers to fetch water from a well in Baidoa. The return walk with the full jerrycans on her back was painful. Sometimes she bought a jerrycan of water for 5,000 Somali shillings but that became unaffordable.

Kassim Mohamed Aden, head of NRC in Bay and Bakool regions, said boreholes had been dug in Bonkay, Lanbule, Rebey and Salbuy villages. There are plans to dig them in five other villages too, where drought has recurred every other dry season.

Bay and Bakool are among the regions in Somalia worst hit by the drought that is turning fast into potential famine.

“The livestock will not die of thirst every other ‘jilaal’ (dry) season, and the people of this area will not be displaced because of water shortage,” Kassim told Radio Ergo.

The chairman of Salbuy village, Mohamed Hassan Abdi, said the borehole also serves pastoralists and farmers from 17 others villages without wells where the water pans are dry.  He said villagers have been displaced from the village once every six months for the last 10 years due to water scarcity.

The borehole will be managed and maintained by a committee of seven local elders and women. The committee has been informing villagers who left that they can return to access water.

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