Somalilandsun – Access to safe water in Somaliland is a major challenge; it has been estimated that somewhere between 83%1 and 90%2 of the rural populations do not have access to safe drinking water. Most people living in Somaliland obtain their water from open sources, including springs, berkads, and dams. Open water sources are prone to contamination and increase the opportunities for water borne diseases to spread.
In an effort to respond to this issue, UNICEF launched a pilot program to distribute free ceramic water filters in rural villages and selected towns throughout Somaliland. Recipients of ceramic filters embraced the new solution. In light of the success of this program, UNICEF approached PSI Somaliland, known for its established private sector social marketing programs, to explore the viability of introducing ceramic water filters through the private sector.
The scope of the research was broadened to include various water treatment options, including ceramic filters, to better understand the market needs. UNICEF and PSI Somaliland proposed a market research study to understand the landscape of long term water treatment options, specifically the supply and demand side factors that might contribute to facilitating sustainable access, by employing a Total Market Approach in urban, peri-urban, and rural Somaliland.
The study revealed a clear hierarchy of water treatment preference, with water treatment tablets used most often (48.8%), followed by boiling (35.9%), ceramic water filters (5.3%), bleach/chlorine (4.6%), straining through a cloth (4.6%) and finally powders (0.8%). Quantitative results indicated that water treatment tablets were popular among all wealth quintiles across all 5 regions of Somaliland in rural and urban areas, with boiling used as the next preferred means to clean/treat water. However, the richest quintile used a wider range of water treatment methods compared with the poorest and poorer quintiles.
Qualitative results show that both water treatment tablets and ceramic water filters were acceptable to consumers, and they were familiar with these options as the Ministry of Health and NGOs have been promoting their use through awareness raising programs and distributing them through public health facilities. Overall, both were perceived as safe options. In terms of taste, ceramic filters were preferred as offering a neutral taste compared to the slightly “bitter” taste of Biyosifeeye. Ceramic filters were perceived as slow, as it could take two hours to filter a liter of water. Ceramic filters were also seen as fragile, and were sometimes misused to store household goods rather than to filter water. Download the full “Long-term_Household Water Treatment Solutions Research Study in Somaliland Report”