Somaliland: Planning Minister’s Speech on Hargeisa Water Project

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Normally, on these occasions one would start by thanking the donors for their support and generosity. But in this occasion, I would start by reminding us of the current state of affairs followed by the difference the project will make so that we can appreciate the true value of the project.

I hope you will excuse me if I repeat what you already about the project but this for the benefit of the wider audience and the public who might not be as well informed’

Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland is supplied primarily by the Geed Deeble water system built 43 years ago by the Chinese in 1972. In that period the population of Hargeisa grew from about 150,000 to nearly 1 million today which is nearly 7 times what it was then.

The system pumps out 9 million cubic meters of water a day, but according to WHO the minimum amount of water required per person per day is 20 liters, which puts the minimum demand for water in Hargeisa at 20 million liters leaving us with a whopping deficit of 11 million liters per day. But that is just for today. Assuming the city is growing at 4%, its population will double in 18 years and will reach the 2million mark by 2032, with a predicted minimum demand of 40 million liters per day.

The current gap is mainly filled with water tankers, but at a high cost. Hargeisa water agency charges 9,500 sl.sh ($1.3) per cubic meter, the private tankers charge about 60,000 sl.sh ($8) per cubic meter, or more than 6 times. For poor households who rely on donkey carts and who pay 1500 sl.sh for a 20 liter Jeri-can, the cost of cubic meter rises to 75,000 sl.sh ($10), which is about $10 per cubic meter. This is extremely expensive by any standards and unbearable for poor families

And the problem is not just about cost, it is also about quality. The water trucked in by the tankers is of questionable quality. I know. I use them. The water is sometimes so murky and certainly not fit for drinking.

The project

When the project is complete Hargeisa water agency will be able to supply up to 20 million cubic meters a day, which means clean affordable water for thousands of households. But the impact is not just in accessibility of water. It is much more than that.

On Health: Child mortality in Somaliland, according to Unicef, is 91 (per 1000) I.e. roughly 1 in 10 does reach 5 years. The main causes of death are bacterial and protozoal water born diseases. With access to clean water, lives will be saved and poor families will be spared hefty medical bills.

On economy: The project will have an economic impact in many ways. The most obvious is savings on cost. A poor family that buys 2X20 liter Jericans a day could be saving $10-15 a month or $120-180 a year. Time for fetching water is also saved. Everyday people spend hours either in queue or wheelbarrowing water from the nearest kiosk. By piping in water 1000s of hours will be ssved and used for more productive purposes.

On gender: The project has a gender dimension. The burden of fetching water falls upon women, particularly young girls, who will be freed from this difficult daily chore, to have more time to study.

Now that we realize the significance and the impact of the project, we can say sincerely, thank you to our development partners in the project: The EU, UK, Denmark, Norway, and Netherlands through the SDF, Germany though KFW, the World Bank, and UN-Habitat .

I would like also to thank Hargeisa water agency which has demonstrated remarkable leadership and commitment throughout the different stages of the project.

We must also acknowledge and thank for their contribution the contracted companies and the people who work day and night to ensure that the project is delivered for the people of Hargeisa on time

Thank you

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