(ERGO) – Bashir Ali Mahamud’s family is among 1,500 households in Ba’adweyne, in the southern part of Somalia’s Mudug region, facing severe water shortage since early July.
The town’s residents were displaced by flash flooding in May. They returned to their homes to find that all the shallow wells had been destroyed by the floods, leaving them with no source of water.
Bashir told Radio Ergo they are reliant on water bought from commercial truckers bringing in water from up to eight kilometres away.
“None of us can afford to buy the whole water bowser so around 40 families share the cost to fill an underground storage tank,” he said.
Bashir’s family uses less than 10 litres a day. He gets it on credit when he can and is often unable to afford it.
The local administration confirmed that they received an emergency water trucking delivery by International Organisation for Migration (IOM) last month, giving each family 45 litres of water.
Bashir works in the local salt mines, but the floods caused deposits of sand to suspend mining activities, leaving him without work now. The floods damaged their house and he has not been able to repair it yet. The water scarcity has compounded his family’s woes and he is contemplating moving out of the area.
“Water is life, and if an area has no water it is impossible to stay there. Now even those underground water tanks that stored the water we purchased are running out,” he said.
The water crisis is also affecting pastoralists living in the rural areas of Ba’adweyne.
Abdullahi Yusuf Siyad, 60, heads a family of nine who depend for a living on a herd of 90 goats. He says he is spending a fortune on water that used to be freely available.
“Most people with 100 goats are now spending between $300 to $350 on managing their animal’s water needs. Sometimes we sell the goats and at times we take credit from shop owners to buy water with the guarantee that we will later give them goats in exchange,” he said.
He already owes $100 to water sellers, who charge $1 for 20 litres. The pastoralists did not receive any water from IOM last month.
Ba’adweyne commissioner, Ahmed Dahir Ma’alin, told Radio Ergo the floods destroyed 18 shallow wells in Ba’adweyne. Residents do not have the technical or financial capacity to re-excavate and repair the collapsed wells. Some wells were in villages
hardest hit by the flooding in May, where most houses are still vacant as the displaced are yet to return.
“We have lost hope of reviving these shallow wells, our hands are tied and there is little that can be done,” he said.