Somaliland: Country’s Prize Efforts to Tackle Water Scarcity


Somalilandsun-  Somaliland has been beset with water shortages due to a combination of geography, climate change and conflict in the wider area.

Helping to alleviate this problem is technology, with new schemes like the Seawater Greenhouse reducing irrigation water usage by 90% and announcing food harvests in the process. Through smart new technology, the country – and wider region – can benefit from greater water supplies.

Technology cannot succeed on its own, however. The government needs to have its input, and so do members of the public. Every citizen can do their bit to help, and some unique solutions have arisen as a result.

donkeys still used to supply water in major cities of Somaliland including capital Hargeisa

Starting from the home

A lot of work can be done to save water from the comfort of the home. According to researchers, a leaking tap can lose 3,000 gallons of water per years. Making simple amendments such as tightening that loose washer can therefore bring dividends. The other benefit of this approach is in the morale it provides; the benefits of larger scales projects may only be felt a few decades down the road. In nearby Kenya, citizens have been advised to save water through mindful usage. Essentially, making the most out of every single daily activity can add up to lots of savings through the year.

Simple but effective measures

The heat of Somaliland contributes to evaporation which reduces water availability. Tackling this seems simple – perhaps using a tarpaulin or reservoirs in commonly shaded areas. These ideas contribute to water retention, but are not conclusive. Near Arabsiyo, locals have come up with an ingenious but effective idea – sand banks. By hiding water beneath thin layers of sand, it is effectively protected from the sun. Projects of this nature have provided water for 42,000 people.

Failure to harness rain waters in Hargeisa and Somaliland ends with flooded roads sometimes very dangerous

Harnessing the chaos

The cruel dichotomy of the water crisis in Somaliland is flooding. Despite spending months in the year striving to save water, storms will deliver an entire year’s worth of rainfall in a day, wreaking havoc across settlements. Far afield, in Ireland, scientists have looked into harnessing storm power after Storm Ophelia hit the country. In the future, floating turbines could be used to capture the power of storms and their water, providing energy and clean water via the desalination process.

Water shortages continue to be a key issue in Somaliland. Effectively tackling the problem will require a mix of government input and technological innovation. In the meanwhile, and continuing into the future, individual citizens can do a lot to help the cause.

The author Jane Sandwood is a regular contributor to