Hydrogeology Journal

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 765–777 | Cite as

Potable water strategies in southern Mudug, Somalia, with special reference to the local economics of motorised borehole systems for watering nomadic livestock

  • David Banks


The southern Mudug region of Somalia has been without coherent national government and an international non-governmental organisation (NGO)/UN presence in recent years. Despite this, a functioning water economy can be found, with supply elements based on rainwater harvesting (berkads), shallow wells, motorised deep borehole systems and water tankering. The author argues that this is partly because groundwater has a clear economic value to villages (they can sell it to nomads) and to nomads (without it they will lose the capital that is their livestock), and because there is a revenue collection structure at motorised borehole systems. The ability to understand the economic value of water from the perspective of the user community is a key ingredient in a successful water-supply project in impoverished rural areas.


Africa Somalia Nomad Economics Water supply 



United States Agency for International Development


(United Nations) Food and Agriculture Organisation


Somalia Food Security Analysis Unit


Gross domestic product


International Committee of the Red Cross/Crescent

“Motorised borehole system/scheme”

A water-supply borehole installed with a motorised pump (typically an electrical submersible pump, powered by a diesel generator)


Norwegian Church Aid


Non-governmental organisation


Somali shilling. US$1 = ca. 14,000 SOS


FAO Somalia Water and Land Information Management Unit


United Nations Environment Programme


United Nations Children’s Fund


Water, Environment and Sanitation (a UNICEF/Government of Sudan project)


World Food Programme


La région du sud de la Somalie a été dans ces dernières années sans gouvernement national cohérent et sans la présence d’organisations non-gouvernementales internationales (NGO) ou d’agences UN. Malgré cela, une économie de l’eau qui fonctionne est présente, avec des éléments d’alimentation basés sur la collecte des eaux de pluie (berkads), des puits phréatiques, des puits profonds motorisés et des cuves à eau. L’auteur montre que cela est en partie dû au fait que l’eau souterraine a une valeur économique importante pour les villages (l’eau pouvant être vendue aux nomades) et pour les nomades eux-mêmes (l’eau est nécessaire à leurs troupeaux), et parce qu’il existe une structure de paiement au niveau des systèmes de puits motorisés. La capacitéà comprendre la valeur économique de l’eau du point de vue de l’utilisateur et de la communauté est un élément clé de la réussite d’un projet d’alimentation en eau potable dans les zones rurales appauvries.


La región de Mudug al sur de Somalia ha estado sin gobierno nacional coherente y la presencia de una organización no-gubernamental e internacional (NGO)/de la ONU en los años recientes. A pesar de esto, puede encontrarse una economía del agua funcionando, con elementos del suministro basados en cosecha de agua lluvia (en berkads), pozos poco profundos, sistemas del pozos profundos motorizados y almacenamiento en tanques de agua. El autor defiende que esto es en parte porque el agua subterránea tiene un valor económico claro, para los pueblos pequeños (ellos pueden venderla a los nómadas) y para los nómadas (sin ella ellos perderán el capital que es su ganado), y porque hay una estructura de acumulación de ganancias en los sistemas de pozos profundos motorizados. La habilidad de entender el valor económico del agua, desde la perspectiva de la comunidad usuaria, es un ingrediente importante en un proyecto de suministro de agua exitoso en las áreas rurales empobrecidas.



The author wishes to thank S. Mutua, M. A. Muhamed and A. Wais for their stimulating company during the assessment mission and for their solidarity in the face of awkward qat-running aircraft stewards (qat is a mildly narcotic plant, imported from Kenya to Somalia)! In particular, J. Thuku is thanked for his excellent leadership of the assessment team. Mr. A. Duale is also thanked for his great assistance in providing much of the logistical support for the mission: transport, security, accommodation, contacts and some fine breakfasts. The skills of the pilot of a yellow DHC-5 Buffalo were much appreciated in bringing us safely back to Wilson Airport despite an engine failure. The author wishes to emphasise that the opinions expressed in this report are entirely his own: they do not necessarily reflect those of his colleagues, his employers or of Norwegian Church Aid.


  1. Abbate E, Sagri M, Sassi FR, Aden IH, Arush MA, Yusuf OS (1994) Geological Map of Somalia, Scale 1:1,500,000. Somali National University and Ministry of Mineral and Water Resources; MogadishuGoogle Scholar
  2. Banks D (2007) DERO water and sanitation sector assessment, September 2007. ACT International/Caritas Internationalis Darfur Emergency Response Report Version D1.0; 30/9/07, Act International, Geneva, 63 ppGoogle Scholar
  3. Blench RM (2001) Pastoralism in the new millennium. Animal Health and Production Series, No 150, FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  4. Bromwich B, Adam AA, Fadul AA, Chege F, Sweet J, Tanner V, Wright G (2007). Darfur: relief in a vulnerable environment. TEAR Fund, Teddington, Middlesex, UK, 72 ppGoogle Scholar
  5. Chernet T (1988) Hydrogeological map of Ethiopia. 1:2,000,000. Ethiopian Institute of Geological Surveys, Addis Ababa, EthiopiaGoogle Scholar
  6. CIA (2007) The world factbook: Somalia. US Central Intelligence Agency. Cited March 2007
  7. De Haan C (1993) An overview of the World Bank’s Involvement in pastoral development. Proceedings of the Donor Consultation Meeting on Pastoral Natural Resource Management and Pastoral Policies for Africa. UNSO (United Nations Sudano-Sahelian Office), Paris, December 1993Google Scholar
  8. DHV (2002) National water supply and sanitation masterplan: interim masterplan, vol 1. Main Report, DHV (Dwars, Heederik en Verhey) Consultants BV Report (Environmental Support Project, Component 3) for Ministry of Water Resources, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, April 2002Google Scholar
  9. DWAF (2002) Guidelines for compulsory national standards (Regulations under section 9 of the Water Services Act, Act 108 of 1997) and norms and standards for water services tariffs (Regulations under section 10 of the Water Services Act, Act 108 of 1997) and Water services provider contract regulations (in terms of S19(5) of the Water Services Act 1997). August 2002, Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Pretoria, South AfricaGoogle Scholar
  10. EC Somalia Unit (2004) Project development: rural water and sanitation interventions in northeast and southern Somalia, Vol II. Preliminary Assessment and Strategic Approaches Report. Prepared by MWH and a consortium led by Parsons Brinckerhoff for the European Commission Somalia Unit (Nairobi) Framework contract AMS/451–Lot No. 2, Request for Services No 2003/69844–Version 2, 24 February 2004, European Commission, Brussels Google Scholar
  11. FAO (1997) Special report: FAO/WFP crop and food supply assessment mission to Somalia. FAO Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture/World Food Programme, 5 September 1997, FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  12. FAO/World Bank (2004) Somalia: towards a livestock sector strategy. Final Report. Food and Agriculture Organisation/World Bank Report No.: 04/001 IC-SOM, 29 April 2004, 65 pp. plus annexes, FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  13. FSAU (2006) Somalia food security phase classification: post-Deyr 2005/6 projection, January 2006 through June 2006. Map produced by Food Security Analysis Unit, Somalia, Nairobi, KenyaGoogle Scholar
  14. Kapuściński R (2001) Brønnen [The well], Chapt. 19. In: “Ibenholt” [“Ebony”] (in Norwegian). Aschehoug, Oslo, 291 ppGoogle Scholar
  15. Metz HC (ed) (1992) Somalia: a country study. US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC. Cited September 2007
  16. Misstear B, Banks D, Clark L (2006) Water wells and boreholes. Wiley, Chichester, UK, 514 ppGoogle Scholar
  17. Schlüter T (2006) Somalia, chapt. 4. In: Geological atlas of Africa with notes on stratigraphy, tectonics, economic geology, geohazards and geosites of each country. Springer, Berlin, pp 208–211Google Scholar
  18. SPHERE (2004) The Sphere handbook: humanitarian charter and minimum standards in disaster response, 2nd revised edn. The Sphere Project, Geneva, 350 ppGoogle Scholar
  19. SWALIM (2007) Rainfall information for northern and central Somalia. FAO Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM). Website Cited April 2007
  20. Thuku J, Banks D, Mutua S (2006) Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) Assessment mission to southern Mudug, Somalia, February 2006. Draft D1.0 dated 23 February 2006, Norwegian Church Aid, OsloGoogle Scholar
  21. Thurow TL, Herlocker DJ, Elmi AA (1989) Development projects and Somali pastoralism. Rangelands 11(1):35–39Google Scholar
  22. UNEP (2005a) After the tsunami: rapid environmental assessment. United Nations Environment Programme, February 2005, UNEP, New York, 140 ppGoogle Scholar
  23. UNEP (2005b) The State of the environment in Somalia: a desk study. United Nations Environment Programme, December 2005, UNEP, New York, 68 ppGoogle Scholar
  24. UNICEF (2002) Drought Emergency Response Project: Kordofan region. Evaluation report SUD_01–800.–800.pdf. Cited September 2007
  25. Unruh JD (1995) The relationship between indigenous pastoralist resource tenure and state tenure in Somalia. GeoJournal 36(1):19–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. WaterAid and TEAR Fund (2003) Small scale, private sector participation in Niassa, Mozambique: new rules, new roles: Does PSP benefit the poor?. Estamos–Organização Comunitária/WaterAid/TEAR Fund, WaterAid, London, Tear Fund, Teddington, UK, 35 ppGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian Church AidOsloNorway
  2. 2.HERO Group, Sir Joseph Swan Institute, Devonshire BuildingUniversity of Newcastle-upon-TyneNewcastleUK

Personalised recommendations