Hon Mahdi Osman Buuri, Somaliland Minister of State for Water Resources was the guest of honour at a ceremony held for the water user associations and water service Providers to mark the completion of three years of training at the Hotel Sultan, Hargeisa.
Within the framework of the European Union–funded project titled Improved Urban Water Service Delivery in Somaliland, UN-Habitat recently organized a two-day workshop with water user associations and water service providers from around Somaliland. UN-Habitat, UNICEF, Pro-Utility, and Uganda’s National Water and Sewerage Corporation jointly facilitated the event. Attendees included more than 20 representatives from water user associations and water service providers from Boroma, Tog Wajaale, Erigavo, Burao, and Hargeisa, representatives from the Somaliland Ministry of Water Resources, and members of the Hargeisa Water Board. Most of the participants had taken part in knowledge-exchange visits to Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia in 2014 and 2015.
Building on recent practical experience in Somaliland and the lessons learned from Uganda, the workshop was organized to strengthen collaboration between water user associations and water service providers, with the overall aim of enhancing functionality and improving the coverage, safety, affordability, and efficiency of urban water supply services. UN-Habitat has been supporting this process since its inception: it developed terms of reference and built the capacity of the user groups through training, exchange visits, office space and basic tools, and practical exercises.
Hon Mahdi Osman Buuri, Somaliland Minister of State for Water Resources speaking during the ceremony said, “First and foremost I would like to welcome the visiting UN HABITAT delegation, led by Susana Martine for the continued support for the water user and water service Providers associations in form of funding.
The State Minister for water Resources further added, “During the drought, people cut down trees so as to get water for their children but now we have ongoing projects to develop underground water resources.
Mr. Abdirashid Farah Arten MP and a member of the water user’s association speaking on behalf of the organization said, “We have now completed the first phase of the project which began three years ago and during that period much has being achieved.
While public and public–private water service providers have been tasked with the operation and management of urban water supply systems in Somaliland for many years, water user associations are relatively new entities, having been established in 2014 through the Somaliland Water Act. These associations provide a forum for advocacy though the representation of all water users, and typically consist of representatives of civil society, women’s groups, marginalized groups (internally displaced persons, the urban poor, minorities, and communities without current access to water), and the business community, as well as religious and traditional leaders, local intellectuals, and youth. At least 30 percent of the members are women. At the grass-roots level, these home-grown groups actively engage with local utilities in the planning, development, monitoring, and oversight of urban water service delivery.