Pregnant women trudging 10 kms to fetch water in Burhakaba

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File Photo/Ergo

(ERGO) – The strain of having to walk long distances to fetch water has led to several miscarriages among pregnant women in Burhakaba, southwestern Somalia, where a protracted water shortage has been causing much suffering.

With a population of 58,000 families, all five wells in Burhakaba town are producing only brackish water. The nine dams normally serving the town have all run dry.

The nearest borehole is 10 kms away in Goley.

Last week, three women were reported to have gone into early labour whilst waiting in line for water.

Deqo Sheikh Mohamed, the chairlady of Burkahaba women’s group, told Radio Ergo that the severe water shortage was taking its greatest toll on pregnant women.

“They have to carry heavy jerry cans of water on their backs for long distances. Last week, three of them were rushed to the hospital after they went suddenly into labour. Two of them suffered still births,”Deqo said.

A 200-litre barrel of water is currently priced at three dollars.  This means the only option for the poor is to make long treks back and forth carrying water from other sources.

Deqo has asked the South West state authorities and humanitarian agencies to intervene and address the water crisis.

HabiboMoalim Adan, a resident ofBurhakaba, cannot afford to buy water and walks daily to Goley village to get water.

“Despite the hot sun and the distance, every day I fetch 100 litres.  Even this is not enough for my family. Some of those women going to fetch water faint every day because of the hardship,” she said.

Mohamed Isack Bashir, an elder in Burhakaba, said the water shortage had provoked conflict among the people.

He pointed out that the situation in the town had reached a crisis level and called on stakeholders to focus on intervention measures.

He said more water trucks and storage tanks were needed in the district.

Southwest state authorities with support from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) drilled a new borehole that became contaminated and brackish.  Adan Hassan Mohamed, the state’s water minister, said the administration was planning other wells to provide water for the residents.

“The process is underway and we are planning to start the drilling after the presidential election to end water scarcity,” he pledged.

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