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Boroma's water flows to more homes and businesses

For much of 2023, Borama, a city pulsating with growth due to its educational allure, summer retreats and urbanisation, found itself grappling with a water crisis that threatened the very fabric of its existence. With a surge in population growth, the demand for water had soared to unprecedented levels, leaving the local water utility, SHABA, teetering on the brink of collapse. 

The situation was dire, with complaints flooding in and fears of potential unrest looming large.

"Last year, by September, the number of complaints we were receiving each day were rising fast, and we feared that people might demonstrate against us," says Abdisalam Sheikh, the CEO of SHABA, reflecting on the challenging days of water scarcity.

But luckily, by mid-October, the crisis was averted as the Borama Urban Water Expansion Scheme was eventually commissioned, although technical and social hurdles had delayed its completion. The scheme, funded by the Somaliland Development Phase 2 (SDF2), changed everything;  the water woes plaguing the city were alleviated. 

The project had involved equipping and connecting three boreholes in the Afraaga area with 19 kilometres of pipelines to the existing water system, along with the construction of two massive 500,000-litre reservoirs. Once commissioned, the impact was profound, and the system now delivers 4 million litres of water daily and provides water to many more households;  consumers have now risen from 133,000 to 223,000; 75% of Borama's population.

"On October 12th, 2023, we celebrated a milestone—the completion of the water expansion scheme. This was the greatest sign of relief, and I can simply say that the SDF-funded Borama Water Project stands solely as the most impactful project for recent decades. Now water reaches every corner of the city, and we are also relieved as Borama's water utility,"  beams a smiling Abdisalam, SHABA CEO.


But the benefits of the project have extended beyond just ensuring a stable water supply for the city. Marginalized communities and IDP zones that were once deprived of access to clean water now had a piped supply and kiosks on their doorstep. 

Fatima, a resident of the Hayayaabo IDP Center, shared her joy, “We used to rely on expensive water trucks. Now, with kiosks at our doorstep providing affordable water, life has become so much easier." Neighbours who once depended on shared sources can now enjoy tap water, and of course reduced prices. 


The ripple effect of the Project has also invigorated local businesses where the impact has been equally profound. Brickmaking, one of the most water-dependent businesses, has seen a significant boost. 

Ahmed Salah, a brickmaker, highlighted the transformation, “We used to work only at night, halting operations in summer due to water scarcity. Now, we operate even in the afternoon, producing more bricks and boosting our income." Ahmed knows of several other brickmaking businesses that had ceased operations due to limited availability of water but have now returned to business.


Restaurants and hotels have also reaped the benefits of the expanded water supply, increasing their operations and revenue. The project not only eased financial burdens by reducing expenses on water but also ushered in a new era of economic growth and improved health outcomes by providing access to clean water and curbing the spread of diseases.

In Borama, the water expansion project hasn’t just been about quenching thirst; it shown that an adequate water supply is essential for both community stability and economic development.