Sand dam in Garbaharey brings the longed-for water

22.03.2021 - 10:50 - Somalia
In our project area in Somalia, it rains only twice a year. And when it rains, almost all the water flows away. In order to improve the water availability to the people, arche noVa builds sustainable water systems/ facilities in the South-Central region of the country. In Garbaharey, two sand dams have recently been costructed. They save the precious water from evaporation, hence water is available much longer. Further water projects are needed.

Water scarcity in large parts of Somalia

A few days ago, the United Nations sounded the alarm with regard to Somalia. UN Ocha warns of water shortages in large parts of the country. The cause is low rainfall in late 2020, during the second rainy season called "Deyr." On the only two major rivers, Jubba and Shabelle, water levels are currently worryingly low. Most dramatically, forecasts for the larger rainy season "Gu" are also poor. Experts expect below-average water levels from April onward.

Sand dams in Garbaharey secure the precious rainfall

One of the project locations of arche noVa in Somalia is the rural municipality Garbaharey with its numerous villages in the surrounding area. Here we have built two sand dams together with the local partner organization ASEP (Action for Social and Economic Progress). They catch the precious precipitation in riverbeds that dry out again immediately after the short rainy seasons and store the water. But even at these sand dams, it is currently dry. For a transitional phase, people are once again dependent on the local borehole and water deliveries by tanker truck. "The dams are not quite mature enough to conserve water but for the first time in Somalia, the sand dam impounded water for 6 months; a huge step for the people," explains Agnes Chepkorir from the arche noVa East Africa regional office. In the course of the next two to three rainy seasons, so much sand will have been deposited in front of the dam walls that the storage volume will still grow significantly.

However, the first few months with the dams have already made the local people optimistic: "There used to be no water, but now there is. The sand dam is a great relief and it gives us a lot of new opportunities. Some residents have even been able to start farming as smallholders, fishing and swimming took place," reports Ahmed Mahmad Egal from Garbaharey.

Local solution with help from neighboring country

"I was very touched by the desire and willingness of our staff to travel to Somalia, despite the difficult security situation, to help the people in Garbaharey build these dams," says Cornelius Kyalo from our Kenyan partner organization ASDF. The cooperation and knowledge transfer had been made possible by our regional office. Thus, in the course of the arche noVa project, the first sand dam could be built in the Gedo region, which is very well suited for this kind of water projects because of the climatic and geological conditions. The wide dry area is crossed by many rivers carrying water only temporarily. All project participants would like to see more sand dams built. In particular, the ASEP team would like to use their newly acquired knowledge of local technology again.

Together with arche noVa, we do water projects in the whole region. The two sand dams in Garbaharey help people who previously had to travel very long distances to get water. In Belet Xawa Tonwn we built a shallow well and in Qansax Omanne a high tank that now supplies 350 people. We also train water committees and build water and sanitation systems at schools.

Abdub Asser, WASH Officer at ASEP in Somalia

The water projects of arche noVa in Somalia

  • Regions: Gedo, Lower Jubba, Galgaduud, Middle Shebelle

  • Target group: 36,700 people

  • Partner organizations: Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH); Action for Social and Economic Progress (ASEP)

  • Construction activities: sand dams, communal rainwater storage tanks, dug wells including pump, borehole, water tanks and pipes at schools among others, water kiosks for water distribution in settlements for IDPs, livestock watering points, irrigation canals

  • Service activities: Water delivery by tanker truck as acute emergency relief, hydrological surveys, chlorination of water, water quality testing.

  • Capacity-building: knowledge transfer to and between local partner organizations; establishment, training and monitoring of water committees; cash for work; training in manual skills


Hodha Omar Bare, ASEP, on the arche noVa water project in Somalia

©arche noVa/ASEP

The way to more resilience in times of climate crisis

The project areas of arche noVa in Somailia are characterized by great water scarcity. Wide dry areas with little vegetation and dried up river courses characterize the landscape. At the same time, the population in the densely populated places continues to increase. After decades of civil war and ongoing security crises, the infrastructure is completely inadequate. People are not prepared for the dangers and anticipated crises due to global warming. Water shortages and extreme weather phenomena are hitting regions that are already threatened by hunger and poverty. In Somalia, there is a strong link between highly food insecure areas and those affected by land degradation. The aim of our project activities is to promote the resilience of the local population, improve the supply situation and open up income opportunities.


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Laying 10 metres of pipe on a new water system
Water supply for two people with the construction of a sand dam
Access to drinking water for six children at their school