Solar-powered pumps are enabling pastoralists and their livestock to get free water in parts of central Somalia’s Mudug region that have suffered from long-term drought and water shortages.

Wells in four of the region’s districts – Wisil, Wargalo, Hingood and Qaydaro – have been set up with solar panels connected to the water pumping system. The project has been implemented by the Galmudug state authorities with support from the international NGO, International Rescue Committee (IRC).

The director of Galmudug’s ministry of water and energy, Asad Isman, told Radio Ergo’s local reporter the scheme would be a turning point for the water issues that have dogged the area. He said the four wells were backed by a team of 10 experts to ensure efficient delivery of water.

“We have initiated this scheme in four districts in Mudug region with the installation of 72 solar panels around the wells,” he said. “This water source makes people’s work easier and they have really benefited from it. Free water can be accessed at any time of the day.”

Ahmed Abdulahi Ali, a father of seven, has lived all his life in Wargalo, 60 km south of Galkayo.  Since losing his 50 goats to drought he has turned to small business and has been earning a living for the last 10 years from a stall selling tea and other food items.

“Every month we used to have to contribute 300-400, 000 Somali shillings ($14-18) towards buying the fuel for the water pump,” Ahmed explained. “It was very hard to raise this amount. A small tank of fuel for the generator cost $190 in Wargalo market and the rising prices of fuel added to the water shortages we experienced.”

The solar panels work less efficiently on cloudy days, so people fetch water when they can to last them through the cloudy days.

Habibo Abdulahi Farah, a mother of five, has been herding here 50 remaining goats four km from the outskirts of Wisil to the well. She had 180 goats but they have died over time due to drought. She even saw 20 of them die as they waited hours in the sun for their turn for water at the old well. She used to pay 200,000 shillings ($9) for the water but now she gets free water once a month. This makes a huge difference to the family.

Around 1,000 families have benefited from the solar energy scheme so far. Most are destitute families in Mudug region who lost their pastoralist livelihoods to drought.  Asad Isman said they hope to expand the solar scheme. Hilmo, El-bidir. Laanwaaley and Carfuuda villages are still facing water shortages and people there are in need of help as they currently have no water.

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