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Burgeoning Population Drains Hargeysa Water Supply
Hargeysa, Somaliland, June 20, 2009 – Urbanization and rural-urban migration could soon overwhelm the water supply in Hargeysa, capital of Somaliland, with city officials calling for the construction of a third pipeline to offset increasing shortages.
"The city's water supply system has not been improved since the mid-1980s, yet more and more people are migrating from the countryside to Hargeysa, Khalif Aw Abdillahi, manager of the Hargeysa water agency, told IRIN. "We produce 9,000 cubic meters of water daily, which is not enough for the city population because it is increasing; so [supply] needs to expand."
Abdillahi said a new pipeline, 25km long, was needed to provide emergency water supplies for the capital.
Each household in Hargeysa receives less water than the internationally accepted standard, according to statistics from the water ministry, Abdillahi said.
"The ministry's statistics indicate that 45 percent of Hargeysa residents do not receive the international standard quantity of water,” he said, adding that the average was 14l per person per day in urban areas while in rural areas it was 8l per person per day.
Abdillahi said: "The Hargeysa water supply was established in the mid-1970s [based] on six wells and one pipeline and dam for about 75,000 people; but the population increased and in the 1980s, the supply was increased [to include] six new wells and one more pipeline, to serve 150,000 persons but in 2007, Hargeysa's population was estimated at about 800,000 and now it is about 900,000, if not more."
A former manager of the Hargeysa water agency, Ahmed Ali Dable, said Hargeysa needed at least 27,000 cubic meters of water per day. He said the city - the most populated in the Somali peninsula since 1991 - has had persistent water shortages in the past several years, especially in the north and south of the city, where most residents buy water from vendors with donkey carts.
Muhumed Aw Ahmed, a water vendor in Hargeysa, said: “I sell almost 20 barrels per day during the rainy season, compared to the dry season when I sell only seven to 10 barrels per day."
His customers are mostly internally displaced persons living in various camps around the city.
Improvements and prospects
Ali Sheikh Omar Qabil, director of environmental health in the Ministry of Health and Labor, said: "In 2000, only 35 percent of the population had access to clean water, unlike recent years [when] more than 45-50 percent of the population receive clean water.”
Moreover, Abdillahi said: "We are [currently] seeking alternatives to increase Hargeysa's water supply, such as digging new wells in Ged-Deble [20km north of Hargeysa] and a water station is needed at the Beyo-Khadar wells as well as the laying of another pipe to pump more water to the city. Also, there are other places such as Humbo Weyne and Jaleelo, which have been surveyed and found to have water that can be supplied to the city."
However, the officials expressed concern about funding the additional water sources in the city.
"We need to have funds to ensure adequate supply to the city in the coming 10 years," Abdillahi said.
Source: IRIN June 15, 2009