Construction and extension of 233 new water systems was undertaken to serve 300,000 people, and the rehabilitation of 241 existing systems to serve 132,000 people. Wherever possible, motorized shallow wells are solar-driven. It is worth nothing that several large scale water systems were completed in emergency areas in 2009, including in Baidoa and Merka. USAID funded the Baidoa Water Project which was completed in 2009 and the Government of Denmark funded the Merka Water Project. UNICEF subsequently supported the construction of a water distribution network in Merka to benefit 22,500 people.
Due to its high cost and unsustainable nature, water trucking to needy populations was opted for only as a last resort and where no other solution was feasible. A total of 416,000 people affected by rapid onset emergencies such as drought or forced displacement were reached with water trucking for periods ranging from 2-22 weeks. Through a number of partners in the Afgoye corridor, UNICEF was able to phase out the very expensive and unsustainable water trucking intervention for IDPs by June, replacing it with new and rehabilitated piped water systems to serve 220,000 people. To compliment the increased access to safe water, 1,790 household and 3,120 communal latrines were constructed, benefiting an estimated 105,000 people.
While the bulk of emergency interventions were concentrated in Central-Southern Somalia, vulnerable areas in Northwest (“Somaliland’) and Northeast (“Puntland”) were also targeted. In rural areas of the two northern zones, construction and rehabilitation of 78 shallow wells and water yards resulted in access to safe water for over 145,000 vulnerable people. This is estimated to have contributed to the urgent water needs of more than 20% of the population in the northern zones that were facing Acute Food and Livelihood Crisis or Humanitarian Emergency or are protracted IDPs. Alongside water system construction/ rehabilitation, 49,100 people in 26 villages in the northwest and 22,900 people in 13 villages in the northeast were exposed to hygiene education.
In the northwest, UNICEF supported water trucking in the drought-affected regions of Sool, Sanaag and Togdheer for 50,000 people in April/May; and to respond to an acute diarrhoea outbreak in Sanaag by chlorinating water points and distributing household chlorination tablets for 20,000 people. In the northeast, 39,552 people from 19 drought affected villages in South Mudug region and 10,710 people from 24 villages in Sanaag region received potable water through trucking for a period of two months, accompanied by hygiene and sanitation promotion. As water trucking is only undertaken when no other options exist, three boreholes in North Mudug region were rehabilitated to increase access to water for an additional 40,000 drought victims and to prevent migration of communities and potential conflict over water resources. Due to its large, concentrated IDP population, special emphasis was placed on response in Bossaso. More than 28,600 households received soap for hand-washing and chlorination of water tanks continued.
UNICEF places particular emphasis on reaching vulnerable children at schools and health facilities with water and sanitation services. At 31 schools and 12 maternal and child health centres in the two northern zones, UNICEF provided a package of services, including construction of latrines for boys and girls, berkads/ground water tanks, and hand-washing facilities benefiting an estimated 6,200 pupils and 9,000 women/ caregivers. The Global Handwashing Day was used to increase the reach of hygiene messages/demonstrations throughout the country in partnership with government and media, reaching over 40,400 people in the northeast (in Bossaso in particular) and 30,000 children at 50 urban schools in the northwest(as well as 3,120 children at 39 schools in the central-south).
Constraints & Lessons Learned: Insecurity and inaccessibility continued to be the main constraints. Recurrent drought makes the situation even more difficult as it results in the diversion of meager sector resources into necessary but short-term and non-sustainable activities. A key lesson learned has been that, given the limited availability and short duration of emergency resources, UNICEF’s focus on support operation and maintenance/chlorination of water systems has not only ensured the continued provision of water supply at many existing sources, but has contributed to averting a major acute diarrhea outbreak and reducing the number of cases compared to the last several years. This has been a cost-effective intervention as it capitalized on existing water infrastructure to reach the maximum number of emergency-affected people with at least a basic level of coverage.