GUSHING TAPS AND DASHING SMILES: Clean Water Improves Children’s Hygiene in Abduwak

Yamyam Primary School in Abduwak District Somalia.

Thorn trees stretch in a stubborn thicket for hundreds of miles in every direction of Abduwak District, Somalia. The region is characterized by hot and dry weather most of the year except for some unreliable torrential rains which fall in April and October. Amidst the hot blowing wind and the fog of red sand, Yamyam Primary School is a beacon of optimism in the desolate arid area. Yamyam primary school is a community school located in an IDP camp in Abudwak district, with a population of 130 students and 4 teachers. The school, however, faces a myriad of challenges.

Access to safe and clean water has been one of the biggest challenges for this school. Intermittent supply of piped water from the village borehole led to poor hygiene practices among the school population which exposed the students to water-borne diseases. This meant there was increased school absenteeism due to these diseases, while other pupils come to school late because they had to look for water before coming to school. If teachers became sick, classes were canceled for all students” Recalls school Principal Siciido Mohamed Abdi

Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD) in collaboration with Medico International (MI) and German Humanitarian Assistance (GFFO) supported the school in the construction of a 5000L berkad (water reservoir) and the rehabilitation of twin gender-segregated pit Latrines.

A water reservoir constructed in Yamyam Primary to ensure a constant supply of water.

We used to buy water from nearby places to provide for the students which was difficult and expensive for the school. Things have changed because we now have a berkad full of water. The water is clean and safe for human consumption. We fill the berkad with water from the tap and it provides enough water for the school community, which has brought more convenience to the school routine, “admits Siciido.

NAPAD staff worked together with the school staff to ensure that the necessary conditions were created so that girls and female teachers would be able to go to school without interruption. This included the rehabilitation of gender-separated latrines and washing facilities in the school. The latrines have lockable doors from inside to provide privacy and security for the students. Also, a crucial aspect of the project was ensuring the sanitation facilities are inclusive to facilitate accessibility by people living with disabilities to guarantee that this group of people will be able to use the facilities as independently and safely as possible.

The newly rehabilitated latrines

Many of the female students have dropped out of school over the years due to shame and distress especially when there is no clean water at school to wash and dry themselves or to go to the toilet at all without disturbance. I believe that this is a new dawn for the education of our girls as they can now come to school and learn comfortably,” Says Siciido.

“I believe that this is a new dawn for the education of our girls as they can now come to school and learn comfortably”

Siccido Mohammed

Hand washing is now habitual and has enhanced hygiene practices among the pupils reducing diseases and increasing class attendance rates. Water gushing out of the taps has given the children nothing but dashing smiles and bright healthy futures.

Students of Yamyam primary using the new taps: This will promote hygiene in the school

PROMOTING HYGIENE AND SANITATION IN SOMALIA’S RURAL COMMUNITIES ADMIST CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC

To reduce water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)-related diseases in IDP camps and Host communities in Somalia, NAPAD continues to support community behavioral change through participatory hygiene promotion campaigns and establishment of water storage and sanitation facilities such as latrines in at risk communities.

NAPAD staff and community hygiene promoters facilitating CLTS training.

In March 2020, Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD) in partnership Medico International with funding from German Federal Foreign Office intensified hygiene and sanitation awareness campaigns in Abduwak district, Somalia. Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) triggering exercises, mobilized 240 Households in Herale, Inagabille, Dalsan and Labogalle to disseminate hygiene information that would encourage communities to eliminate open defecation through self-appraisal and analysis of open defecation and take action to become open defecation free. These sanitation and hygiene interventions are especially important in mitigating outbreak of Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWDs) and more importantly mitigate COVID-19 transmission in the community.

CLTS facilitators and community members conduct transect walk in Inagabille village

As of 11th of May, confirmed COVID 19 cases in Africa are 69,707 with 2,399 deaths reported. Currently, Somalia has reported 1205 active cases and 53 deaths. The increase in cases is largely due to community transmission largely perpetuated by lack of hygiene facilities and little or no information on proper hand washing for disease control. World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that if the virus transmission is not slowed down rapidly, the patient surge and increasing demand for health care will overwhelm the Somali’s fragile health system. Key to this prevention of transmission as recommended by WHO is the promotion of maintenance of general hygiene among community members.

A hygiene promoter instructing Dalsan community members on proper hand-washing technique
Community members in Dalsan practicing proper hand-washing technique

In helping build Somalia’s Education, Health and Sanitation sector, NAPAD has also constructed Berkerds and Latrines fitted with hand-washing stations such as those at Amana Health Centre in Robday and Yamyam primary school. These facilities will ensure the most vulnerable, who include women and children have access to clean water.

Yamyam Primary School access clean water from the newly constructed Berkard.

The provision of safe water, sanitation and adequate hygiene (WASH) is essential to protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks. This will also build communities that are environmentally healthy and resilient in terms of managing environmental risks associated with sanitation and hygiene.

AN OASIS OF HOPE IN HAMARE

Mr. Billow Adow in his farm.
Mr. Billow Adow in his farm.

Billow Adow, a small-scale farmer from Hamare practices farming on a quarter an acre piece of land. This has enabled him to not only cater for his children’s education but also take care of his nuclear family. However, due to the unpredictability of the Gu’rains that farmers are heavily reliant on, returns from his piece of land have not been forthcoming. The dwindling profits from his farming and the inability to now take care of his family and his children’s education have Billow reliant on cash transfers from well-wishers and humanitarian organizations.

Farming was no longer a reliable source of income, and I was struggling to pay school fees and feed my family.”

Billow adow

“I have been a farmer all my life, like my father before me. But much has changed since I was as a child. The rains that once were regular have become unpredictable, and severe droughts are becoming more frequent. Farming was no longer a reliable source of income, and I was struggling to pay school fees and feed my family. I used to plant maize once a year. If there was rain, the harvest was good. If there wasn’t, the harvest was poor. But with the changes in climate, I could hardly grow enough maize to meet my family’s needs.” Recalls Billow

In order to help farmers in Hamare increase their resilience to climate change and improve their income, NAPAD in partnership with Terre des homes (TDH) started a solar irrigation project that targeted 300 farmers. These direct and indirect target groups were among the hardest hit by the previous severe drought that ravaged most parts of the country. The project also involved construction of shallow wells close to the river and elevated water tanks that can hold a maximum of 60000 liters. Water is pumped from the wells to the elevated tanks using solar energy via PVC pipes then to the farms. These has enabled areas further from the river to also benefit from the project.

Mr.Billow’s onion yield

This is a very extraordinary yield, something that I have never experienced before. With the money, I am now able to provide for my family’s’ basic need

billow adow

Mr. Billow has since diversified his farming, he now practices mixed farming. Last season, Billow harvested 50 bags of onions which he sold for Birr 600 per bag translating to a total of 30000 Birr (USD 780). “This is a very extraordinary yield, something that I have never experienced before. With the money, I am now able to provide for my family’s’ basic needs while also putting aside some money as savings for my children’s education. I also bought goats; I have 12 goats now,” he says proudly. He is now able to smile instead of frowning upon the skies for their unpredictability.

Farmers are able not only to diversify the crops they grow but also increase the number of planting seasons. This has built the communities resilience to the shock brought about by adverse climate change. There is now a glimmer of hope in restoring the community’s confidence in agriculture as a stable source of livelihood and as a promoter of self-reliance. This is thanks to the solar irrigation system that also allows them to have a steady supply of food and income for their families. The system indeed has been akin to an oasis of hope that the farmers can always count on to cushion them from drought and poverty

NCA-NAPAD Project Ensures Taps Never Run Dry in Dolow District

The aftermath of the 2017 drought had devastating effects, leaving half of Somalia’s population with food and water shortages. Portable water became scarce and existing water supplies became unfit for consumption, accelerating water borne diseases. One year after the drought, vulnerable communities still felt the pangs of famine. There was slow recovery from the aftershocks of drought for most rural communities as food and water shortages were still existing. To address this, Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD) in partnership with the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) implemented a WASH intervention in Somalia’s Gedo region helping vulnerable communities regain their balance post-drought period.

The NCA Drought Response and Recovery Program, implemented two years ago enabled drought stricken communities in Qurdubey and Busle village, Dolow District to access safe, equitable and sustainable access to water. The project consisted rehabilitation of a shallow well, installation of a solar pumping system, construction of a 20,000 elevated water tank and a water kiosk in each of the village. The water project is also extended to important institutions in the village such as hospitals and schools, providing clean water to Qurdubey and Busle Primary schools and health centres.

Besides helping the communities quench their thirst, the project put in place sustainable measures to uplift the communities. Water kiosks were fitted with charging ports as a means of generating income and fencing of the kiosks to ensure safety for the communities as they access water.

Qurdubey- ‘My queens no longer worry about water’

Kusoow Ibrahim accompanies his two sons and two daughters to Qurdubey Village water kiosk as they fetch water for their family. Two years ago, his wife and daughters, in the company of other women would trek a total of 6KM to and fro River Ganane every morning and evening to fetch water. His wife and children had to perform this treacherous task religiously to quench their thirst.

Kusoow Ibrahim with his two sons and one of his daughters at the water kiosk

Like in most rural villages of Somalia, water fetching is a task mostly reserved for women. The long and tiresome journeys in search of water are usually coupled with insecurity. Wild animals such as crocodiles are imminent threats when fetching water along the river banks.

“I knew what it meant for us, especially for my family. Ever since this project was implemented, my queens no longer worry about water or travel for hours to the River as the water kiosk is a stone throw away…”

kUSOOW IBRAHIM

”I was the happiest man on earth when this project became a reality. I knew what it meant for us, especially for my family. Ever since this project was implemented, my queens no longer worry about water or travel for hours to the River as the water kiosk is a stone throw away,” says the father of 12.  

Kusoow Ibrahim with one of his daughters. In rural Somalia, water fetching is a task mostly reserved for women.

The water kiosk fitted with 8 taps serves eight people at ago, and provides clean treated water to more 1,800 people. The charging ports in the water kiosk ran by the water management committee help generate income and act as subsidies for the residents in return.

The Qurdubey Water kiosk serves over 1,800 people

”Every family pays 35 Bir (1.50 Dollars) as fee for every month. The destitute and those with special needs are not charged,” Kussow explains.

Since 2018, water problems in Qurdubey village and its environs is a thing of the past and many families have now shifted their minds on other activates such farming.

Busle- ‘Alhamdulillah! we are less than five minutes away from the water point’

A few kilometres from Qurdubey Village is Busle Village where Mama Ebla fetches water for her family at the Busle water kiosk. This is a chore she has observed diligently since her teenage years, only that now the water has been brought closer to her. It’s almost two years since Mama Ebla and other Busle Village residents have been accessing water without a hitch. The mother of five recalls how in the past she would trek 8KM to and fro River Ganane twice on daily basis to fetch water for her family.

“We would travel two and half hours to and from the river every time I fetch water…”

Mama eBLA
Mama Ebla fetxhing water at the Busle water kiosk

”Early in the morning I would go to the river in the company of other women, equipped with my jerricans to fetch water for my family and on my way back again I would collect firewood along the way and put it on my back. We would travel two and half hours to and from the river every time I fetch water, ” Mama Ebla narrates.

Mama Ebla and the community were offered respite after NAPAD and NCA implemented the project. Since May 2018, the project has been providing clean water to 500 households in Busle village and three neighbouring villages; Maskino, Kulunle and Ramagororo villages. 

“We couldn’t believe that we were no longer trekking to the river to fetch water. Alhamdulillah! we are less than five minutes away from the water point and I am grateful that I can access it anytime,” says Mama Ebla with a smile.