Alleviating chronic water shortages through water harvesting Birkas: A case of Malka-Sallah

Organization For Welfare and Development in Action  (OWDA) had implemented an integrated pastoral and agro-pastoral development project in Adadle Woreda of Gode zone from 2007 to 2011.The project beneficiaries’ livelihood system composed of pure pastoral livelihood and agro-pastoral community residing in the Shabele river bank. The pastoral communities’ livelihood is based on livestock and is very sensitive to droughts and water shortages. Out of the targeted 10 Kebeles 4 were chronically water insecure and faced water shortage on numerous occasions.

Malka-sallah Kebele, 55 Km south of Gode and with population of 300 households, was one of these Kebeles and was known for its chronic water shortage history. The community in Malka-sallah, like other communities in the region, has developed water trucking dependency syndrome. The project prioritized ways to address this problem by developing new water points (Birkas) and rehabilitating existing ones. The number of the functional water points in the Kebele increased from 1 to 6 and these water points increased water availability during the dry season to cover the needs of the community from less than a month to 5 months. The household level water consumption was below 20 litters a day that cost them over 4 hours before the project inception. This has improved now to over 45 litters a day that will not take them more than 15 minutes. Daily household allowances are followed normally followed but adjustments are based on the prevailing situation.

Community skills on service management were also enhanced by organizing and training water management committee. The main functions of the committees are ensuring proper utilization of water, collection of fees from users and administering water fund, determining household consumption ceilings, community mobilization for labour contribution and sanitation of the Birkas and surroundings.

Water fee was introduced and 1 birr/40 litters is charged. Assigned person from the committee, mostly woman member, collects the water fees. Daily collections are submitted to cashier and recorded on logbook. Birkas are opened one after another. The Committee has opened a saving account at Gode CBE branch in the name of community water fund. The process was co-facilitated by OWDA and Woreda Rural Supply Development. After checking the cash on hand against the log book, the proceeds from each Birka are deposited in the Bank.

Withdrawals can be made with signed minutes of at least four members of the committee. The committee uses the Kebele stamp on minutes. The committee operates with simple saving pass book in which the photos of the signatories are affixed. Two designated persons, chairperson and cashier, from the water committee co-sign. Community water fund is earmarked for the expenses like for maintenance and repair of Birkas, leveraging as community contribution for construction for new Birkas and emergency water trucking.

For the first time in its history, Malka-sallah was not in the list water Kebeles under water trucking in Adadle Woreda during the last Jilaal period. Over 440,000 birr worth of money that would have been used for water trucking was saved (assuming 60 days water trucking at 4000 birr per 12m3 tanker cost). It received the Deyr rains while two Birkas were still full of water and locked (360m3).

As of February 28, 2012, two and half Birkas were remaining and over 46,000 birr deposited in the bank. Community and other stakeholder’s confidence on the system increased.

Regional food security updates

According to the regional Disaster prevention and preparedness bureau The food security condition remain stable in many parts across the Somali region in this month compared to the last months, due to a combination of factors such as onset of Gu season improved water availability, regular distribution of relief and PSNP food, good livestock body condition and the existence of internal livestock market demand.

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OWDA and its DENAN Health Services

Organization for Welfare & Development in Action (OWDA) in partnership with The Denan Project (TDP) is vigorously running the Denan Health Center which is fully staffed with an exceptionally dedicated team of more than 35 staffs headed by medical doctor.

Denan health center is equipped with ultrasound, laboratory chemist, refrigerators and 20 beds for inpatient wards. There is emergency department with standby ambulance for referral of seriously ill patients. Moreover, there is well established maternity ward with vaccinations, pre- and post-natal, well-baby care, and have TB clinic adjacent to the health center. Likewise, both Out-Patient Therapeutic Program and Therapeutic Feeding Unit Nutritional programs are actively operational in the health center. OWDA in collaboration with TDP managed to successfully treat more than 100,000 patients ailing with different diseases. All the services are delivered for free. (details will be posted soon in the annual performance report).

General Assembly (GA) Meeting

Organization for Welfare and Development in Action (OWDA) conducted its 3rd annual General assembly meeting on March 24th after the establishment of the Charities and Societies Agency.

The meeting was held in Hamda Hotel at the association’s headquarter of Jijiga. The Meeting was participated by the General assembly members, invited guests and representatives from the regional government line bureaus.

The meeting was officially opened by the General assembly chairman, Najeeb Aden, who welcomed the participants and introduced the meetings agendas as follows;

  • Annual performance and audit report presentation
  • 2012 action plan approval
  • Accepting new  general assembly membership applicants
  • Electing two new board members

OWDA’s executive director presented the organization’s 2011 performance report while the accountant presented the financial report prepared by the external certified accountant. The performance report revealed major achievements, constraints and challenges faced during the year. In addition the reports revealed that the budget of the organization increased significantly compared to the last year.

Consequently the annual action plan was presented to the participants. After serious discussions, Questions and answers the general assembly members approved both the reports and the action plan.

Finally the General assembly meeting accepted the applications of the new members and also elected two new board members replacing two out-going members and lastly the General assembly chairman made closing remarks and officially closed the meeting.

OWDA’s Adadle Community Development Project: Impacts and Beneficiaries’ Testimonies

Adadley Community Development project (ACDP) is a five year development program implemented by Ogaden Welfare and Development Association (OWDA) and funded by Development Fund Norway – DF in Adadley Woreda of Godey Zone, Somali Regional State, Ethiopia. The goal of the project was to provide capacity building and effective model of public services that addresses community priority needs and reduce their vulnerability.

The project beneficiaries’ livelihood system is composed of pure pastoral livelihood and agro-pastoral community residing in the wabi-shabele river bank. The pastoral communities’ livelihood is based on livestock and is very sensitive to droughts and water shortages. Out of the targeted 10 kabales 4 were chronically water insecure and faced water shortage on numerous occasions. The project prioritize ways to address this problem by developing new water points (Birkas) and rehabilitating existing ones. The project increased number of the functional water points per kabale from 1 to 3 on average and these water points increased water availability during the dry season to cover the needs of the community from less than a month to 3 months. If the gu rains are normal and recharge and fill the Birkas, the communities in these kabales will not require water trucking that was common in them before the project implementation. The household level water consumption was below 20 litters a day that cost them over 4 hours before the project inception. This has improved now to over 45 litters a day that will not take them more than 15 minutes.

The above information was collected from the project beneficiaries in different villages and here is one case from Birlays village under Malko-salah kabale. Abdiqadir Osman lived in the village before and after the project commencement and he compares the situation in his own words.

“I am a father of 5 children and lived in this village for long enough to compare the situation before and after the project implemented water points (Birkas) in our village. I personally remember fetching water from Karoodka hand dug wells, which took me 6 hrs per trip, and I did not have a donkey to carry the water from this long distance. I used to borrow it from my neighbors. The capacity of the donkey was about 50 liters per trip and it was every other day that we used to bring water from this source. The owner of the donkey took half of what we brought and my family was getting the other half. My wife was either pregnant or lactating and I used to fetch the water most of the time, which was taking a lot of time from me and this has stopped me to involve in income generation of the family. Now we do have 4 Birkas in the village which has been developed by the project except one. Now per day my family gets 40 liters of water, which does not need any draft animal and does not take me more than 15 minutes. Most of the time my wife fetches the water from the Birkas now. I have opened a tea shop since we have the water available at the village and I am better off now”.

Women and girls were generally responsible for fetching water from long distances and spend quarter of their time per day on it. Now women and girls get time for involving in household income generating activities and going to literacy classes. The project initiated alternative basic education classes for the adult people and majority of the persons attending are women.

Similarly, the project assisted the development of the small scale irrigation farming by providing water pumps and other technical assistances. Dama’ Yusuf Mursal, mother of six children, lives in riverine Kebele called Hilologududo, 17 Kms from Gode town. Dama’s family was one of the households who received water pumps from the project in 2010. She relates her story of how the water pumps helped her family and livestock survive the last harsh drought of 2011.

‘’We were among 40 households who received a water pump from the project in 2010. We were told that the water pump can irrigate 10 ha and our family got share of ¼ ha. We planted maize with it and harvested 4.5 quintals. This was just barely enough the family food needs. In addition to the small farm, we have 20 heads of cattle. Then, the harsh Jilaal drought of 2011 came. There was no pasture and cattle have nothing to feed. The carcass of died animals littered everywhere. Only those who have the means were able to save their livestock by purchasing feed or producing themselves. We didn’t have that opportunity. The small plot we irrigated again this year was meagerly enough the family subsistence. We were afraid that we will lose all of the cattle. I discussed this problem with my husband and decided to ask the Water User’s Association (WUA) to give us additional ¼ ha to produce fodder. They agreed but insisted that we water our field after others and cover the additional costs. We borrowed fuel, lubricants and money for the operational expenses from a relative of mine in Gode and promised him to pay after the drought. With the help of the Kebele DA, We managed to get 2Kgs of Sudan grass at the cost of 140 birr from the research center. We sowed the seed and watered for three consecutive periods. We harvested 6 quintals of maize from the first plot and 34 bales of Sudan grass from second. In addition to the maize stalks, we stored fodder and fed the cattle. There were four dairy cows and my children were able to get milk. We managed to pass through the Jilaal period and all of our cattle survived. Finally, we

OWDA’s FGM Experience at the Proceedings of the National FGM Network Annual Experience Sharing Workshop

Established in 1999 with its head office in Jijiga, OWDA works in Jijiga, Warder, korahay, Gode, Afder and Liben zones in various integrated thematic program engagements. These include rural water supply, education, health, environmental rehabilitation and protection, pastoral community capacity building, water and sanitation, destitute children and women support, emergency relief, and fighting harmful traditional practices such as FGM.

OWDA recently launched a five years project on Improving Reproductive Health (RH) and economic condition of women and girls in partnership with NCA. The project targets Jijiga, Gode, Adadale and Denan woredas including more than 24 kebeles. The project mainly focuses on information dissemination and change of perception and behavior and works in close collaboration with local Government and non-governmental bodies.
Approaches: Using religious and traditional leaders as agents of change, conduct community dialogues (as Somalis are oral community), using media (local FM radio and Somali regional ESTV), using men as agent of change, and support FGM victims.

Success stories: OWDA involved prominent religious and intellectual persons who have written books on RH especially FGM to address the Sunna issue, and they have sensitized attendants that there is no level of cutting of clitoris. Formation of young male volunteers against FGM, incorporating RH in health education in OWDA’s Denan health centre, integrating the issues of RH and FGM in schools run by OWDA, Religious leaders who are opposing FGM including Sunna and are increasing in number and getting momentum, FGM related information is widely available, Anti FGM messages were broadcasted via Radio FANA Somali language section, and Regional mass media like Somali FM and ESTV were used to disseminate FGM related information.



  • FGM is a deeply rooted traditional practice
  • Religious leaders have different opinions about FGM,
  • Shift from infibulations to Sunna type of FGM
  • Project sites such as Gode are prone to disasters and communities have other priorities like food and water, and logistics problems.

In order to address these challenges OWDA plans to focus on a campaign on religious and traditional leaders, conduct FGM along side with development activities, and breaking the silence on the Sunna issue.

Ardo is an infibulations type FGM victim who lives in Burkayar, 22km away from Denan. As her family was poor she used to support the family financially by opening a teashop at the age of 18. Her business was flourishing when she secretly married one of her customers, who was a truck driver, which is contrary to the local traditional norms.
She spent a night with him and she got pregnant and unfortunately her husband disappeared after that night. As marrying secretly is a taboo in some rural areas she preferred not to tell her plight to anybody. She endured a painful and long labor for two days and two nights and she ended up with fistula. After leading a very miserable life with fistula one day she visited Denan clinic for medication after she participated in one of community dialogues organized by OWDA.
As the clinic is run by OWDA she was taken to Addis Ababa fistula Hospital. After Thirteen days of care and treatment she returned to her home. She is now an active anti-FGM campaigner and pledged her future to save children from this curse. Ardo is now on her first days of new life as she is on her honeymoon.

Updates on the Current Humanitarian Situation and the Emergency Response Plan

In a meeting held in Jijiga on 11 February 2010 to discuss the current humanitarian situation, the regional Disaster Prevention and preparedness Bureau  updated the meeting participants as follows:
Weather Condition
Unusual rain is currently falling in certain parts of the Somali region.Localities that have received medium amount of rain include:

Fik Zone (Fik, Sagag and Mayomuluko), Dagahbour (Ararso area. On the other hand, certain areas in Jijiga (Jijiga, Babile, Gursum, and Kebribeyah) and parts of Shinille Zone (Mieso, Aisaha, Erer and Shinille) have received better rain than Dyer receiving areas where the current rain is observed.  Although the current rain is observed in the above localities, its impact on pasture and the availability of water is insignificant. The current rain is locally known as “Lih – Kor “. It means short rain received after the sixth day of the last month of the “Jilal” period.  In this regard, local elders believe that fair distribution of rain observed during the “Lih – Kor” period forecasts that the next Gu rain to follow will be good.

Although the last Dyer rains were good in certain areas of the Somali region, there were areas with critical water shortages.  Water tankering operations have been ongoing in certain areas during the last four months. Some of these areas include Aisha, Galadi, Warder, Harshin, and Guredamole.  There are other areas such as Sagag, Garbo, Hamero, Duhun, Fik, Mayomuluko and Salahad, Gunegedo, Degehmedow, Afdem, Shinille districts of Shinille zone, Gure baqaqsa of Afder zone where water trucking operations have been ongoing between January and February 2010 through the DPPB,  ACPA and OWDA.

There are other districts still facing severe water shortage where water delivery needs to be initiated as quickly as possible. These areas include Barey, Hargelle, Dolobay, Doloado, Shilabo, and part of Kebridehar, Danan, and Aware, part of Gashamo, Danot, Dobewain, Filtu and Hudet.

Availability of pasture has diminished because of the dry (Jilal) season and over grazing in areas that received good Dyer rains.  Areas with critical shortage of pasture include Shinille, Fik, Afder, Warder, Degehbour, Liban Zones and part of Gode.

Some pastoralists are migrating with their livestock to the areas with better pasture. For instance, pastoralists in Shinille Zone have migrated to Jigjiga, highland areas of Oromiya, Awash River basin of Afar region.  The movement of pastoralists to Oromiya and Afar regions might result in conflict with the locals because of limited resources of water and pasture. Pastoralists from Adadle and some part Gode have also migrated to Somalia and from Degehbour and Fik zone to Fafen and Dakhato Valleys of Jijiga Zone. It is also reported that pastoralists from Degehbour, Korahe and Warder Zones have also migrated to Somaliland in search of pasture.
Livestock condition

The condition of livestock is deteriorating because of the dry season and prolonged drought in some areas. Cattle are the most affected. No outbreak of livestock disease was reported except in Aisha where unknown disease is reported to have affected shoat.  Similarly, death of camel and shoat is reported in Warder District because of unknown livestock disease.
Food Security

The availability of milk in the local market is decreasing with serious impact on the nutritional status of children and the aged. The price of livestock is also declining coupled with the high price increase in staple food. The price of staple food is increasing mainly in areas where WFP has temporarily suspended food deliveries and distribution.
In terms of the regional emergency responses The regional DPPB indicated that some Some 694,400 persons located in 44 Weredas of Afder, Degehbour, Fik, Gode, Jijiga, Korahe, Liban, Shinille and Warder Zones need urgent water delivery through tankering operations for a period of two months until the next Gu rains fall.
In order to conduct a water tanking emergency the regional DPPB estimated that 107 tankers are needed and most of these tankers will be made available by the region even though there will a gap of 57 tankers and requested the Aid agencies to try to fill this gap.

Many of the Aid agencies participated in the meeting expressed their willingness to participate in the emergency and OWDA on its part expressed its intention to provide one water tanker to provide water to Denan district of Gode.
In line with the water trucking there is many other emergency interventions like WASH Intervention, Agriculture/Livestock  Emergency Intervention, Food and Non – Food Items and Health/Nutrition Expected to be

OWDA’S Water tankering updates

Organization Welfare and Development in Action (OWDA) is currently conducting water tankering emergency interventions in three different districts of the Somali region where was highly affected by the recent drought. These districts are Bokh, Galadi and Hershin.

The report compiled by our field staff pertaining to these water tankering activities stipulated that OWDA has conducted water tankering activity in last forty days to an estimate population of 52,013 according to the Districts’ Disaster prevention and preparedness officers.

The road infrastructures of these districts are very poor and moreover the nearest water sources of some of the kebeles are quite very far from the beneficiaries, a reason somewhat complicated the smooth running of the intervention even though the organization is sparing no effort to continuously provide the services uninterrupted.

Founder of the Denan Project Enjoys Hero’s Welcome in Denan

The founder of the Denan project Dick Young enjoyed a hero’s welcome in Denan as he was conducting a supervision mission in the Denan District. The community considered the visit as way of revitalizing the project after a serious setback caused by the burning of mobile team vehicle.

On January 14, 2010 delegates from Denan project and OWDA visited Denan to monitor, know the status of the project clearly and share project plans with the target community. The team was affectionately welcomed by the project beneficiaries to an extent whereby the Denan project president Dick Young and his deputy Jarret were lifted up. Moreover, some of the community were singing and dancing for the team. This warm welcome indicates the achievements of the project and the positive impact the project had to the community.
The project is targeting Denan Woreda of Gode Zone which is located 70km north-east of Gode town. The project has integrated development components which have diverse sections those are aimed at improving the livelihood of the target area. The project is funded by Denan project Inc based in USA and implemented by Ogaden Welfare & Development Association (OWDA). Initially the project was started with two clinic rooms and one Doctor but unbelievably within six years the project has all health elements needed from a health center and has more than forty staffs. The project had given the necessary treatments to more than seventy five thousand patients in six years. Likewise, the project was expanded from being limited to health activities and in Denan town but holistically incorporated with five more important components including the outreach program which was aimed at serving the unreached locations of Denan districts.

The project components are categorized into five holistic fingers these are provision of comprehensive primary health care, water development, education, cottage industry and agricultural development component.

OWDA Emergency Water Trucking

As some parts of the Somali region is seriously affected by shortage of water caused by the dry season OWDA is currently conducting water trucking project in three districts of Bok, Galadi and Harshin which were mostly affected by the drought after securing the fund from UNICEF after having consultation with the regional Disaster prevention and preparedness Bureau.