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Clean, safe drinking water in drought-stricken Somalia is a luxury. Women and girls in Burdhubo, Southern Gedo, are forced to abandon their education to trek long distances in searing heat to source water for their families. A gift of water this Christmas will change their lives – and the lives of hundreds of communities in developing countries.
Mother-of-ten Fartun Ali Qodah, (39), along with her young daughters, had to trek three kilometres every day in search of clean, safe water. In their quest for this life essential they faced searing heat, exhaustion, hunger, and the risk of being attacked.
But most concerning was the fact that the girls were missing school as their main task of the day was to find safe water for the family.
The River Juba is the only water source for Fartun’s village, Busley, in Burdhubo town, which has a population of almost 120,000.
‘‘The river water gets infected by animal waste, insects, and dirt during the dry season. The colour, odour and appearance of the water changes and our children often suffer from diarrhoea.” she says.
Thanks to the construction of a new solar-powered shallow well, the lives of Fartun and her girls have been dramatically changed. The well is now piping safe water to their village and other communities in Burdhubo.
The well was led by Trócaire, with funds from the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) channelled through Catholic Relief Services (CSR). The project was implemented by the Somalia Health, Protection and Nutrition (SHArPEN II) project in Burdhubo, a district with a population of more than 120,000.
Thanks to the solar-powered shallow well, an estimated 400 households (almost 3,000 people) can now access safe and clean water. The well has also helped improve the health of children and their families, and has resulted in a decrease in the incidences of water-borne diseases, including diarrhoea, as well as malnutrition in under-five children.
Before this solar-powered shallow well was constructed, Fartun worried about her girls’ future and safety. As in many fragile contexts, many women and girls are exposed to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) as they trek to fetch water.
‘‘I am very grateful that we now have clean water from this well, thanks to Trócaire and the donors who funded this project. Now we can fetch clean water in less than 15 minutes because we are not going far to look for it, and our girls now have time to go to school,’’ adds Fartun, smiling.
However other communities are not as fortunate while they wait for the project to be expanded. “As a mother, I feel sad to see girls put at risk and not attending school as the boys do. The lack of safe water here significantly affected the education of many girls,” Fartun tells us.
Over the last two decades, humanitarian agencies have worked to help restore Somalia’s collapsed water system – but more needs to be done. In 2022, 7.7 million Somalians are expected to require humanitarian assistance.
The World Health Organisation believes that improving water quality, sanitation and hygiene could save millions of lives across the world.
Continued support is needed to supply clean and safe water to the entire Burdhubo district which hosts vulnerable internally displaced people and host communities who don’t have access to clean or safe drinking water.
You can give a water gift of love this Christmas
Trócaire’s range of Gifts of Love this Christmas includes options to support communities with clean water. This can help prevent deadly diseases like cholera and typhoid and help large families like Fartun’s in drought stricken countries in Asia and Africa have safe water to drink.
There are 21 Trócaire gifts to choose from this year. As well as water you can buy gifts of chicks, beehives and solar lamps ranging in price from €5 to €1000.