This semi-arid region suffers from recurring droughts which are increasing in frequency and intensity due to environmental degradation and climate change.
Kamor-Liban had no permanent source of water, so villagers had to travel 10km to Lafey during dry seasons and droughts.
“Women would give their jerrycans to travellers on the bus to bring back water. We had to beg for water. Some jerrycans were abandoned in Lafey and never came back,” said Hamara Mohamood, a fifty-year-old mother of eight.
Children were also sent to Lafey to fetch water on donkey-back, taking up to 7 hours.
Life or Death
In 2006 the region was hit by a devastating drought and water became a matter of life or death.
Hamara Mohamood feared for her family.
“God sent Islamic Relief to us! Otherwise we would have been dead by now because we didn’t even have water to drink,” she said.
Islamic Relief (IR) delivered thousands of litres of water to Kamor-Liban by truck every day. However, this was an emergency measure not a permanent solution.
Most people in Mandera are pastoralists who raise livestock for food and income. The drought killed thousands of animals and their carcasses polluted water sources, creating a health hazard.
IR organised Village Health and Hygiene Committees which dug pits and buried the carcasses.
The villagers were unsure of the benefits at first.
“People didn’t want to touch the dead carcasses. They even suspected the volunteers must have been paid, else why would they do it?” said Hamara, “But when they realised that their surviving animals would have fallen ill, and saw the benefits of a clean environment, they understood.”
Hamara is a member of the Health and Hygiene Committee. Islamic Relief teamed up with the European Union’s Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO). to organise five village committees and provide training on health and sanitation issues.
Waste pits were dug in the villages and committees received tools, including wheelbarrows and spades, to help them clean.
“The children would often fall ill with diarrhoea, fever and stomach complaints. Since the hygiene education we don’t see so much of that,” said Hamara. “The health of the village has improved a lot. Everyone has been cleaning up! I try to set an example. You know, women are often jealous, so when one does something, the others copy!”
To solve the water problems of the drought-struck community, Islamic Relief constructed a water pan in partnership with ECHO.
The water pan will provide a safe and reliable water supply for the village and surrounding area.
Local people were hired to dig the pan and lay the pipes, providing the workers with an income.
Once the water pan has been completed it will have a filtration system and a tank to store clean water. Portable troughs will be provided for livestock to drink from, avoiding contamination.
The village Water Committee has received training in maintainance and management of the new facility.
The committee may decide to charge users a small amount to cover maintenance costs, such as regular de-silting.
Hamara and other villagers have already started to use the rainwater which has collected in the partly-constructed water pan.
The water supply is providing real relief for the women of the village.
“Men? What problems do they have? As women we look after the children and cook the food,” explains Hamara. “We have to carry soiled smelly children 10km away to Lafey to wash, and then bring them back again. Now we can get water from a nearby place and it will help us a lot.”
Kamor-Liban’s children no longer have to spend hours fetching water. Instead they can spend more time at school and look forward to a cleaner, healthier future.