Influencing better practice in the delivery of Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in Somalia

Somalia WASH sector is operating in an extremely complex environment where socio-economic, environmental and political factors place WASH actors under tremendous pressure.  Somalia is a water scarce country but it is also a country at war with collapsed infrastructure, limited sector governance and low availability of skilled. The WASH sector has been dominated by short duration interventions intended to save lives and relieve the suffering of people affected by the combined shocks of conflict, drought, disease outbreaks and displacement. While water is frequently the stated as the highest priority need by communities donors and government often overlook the WASH sector with the result that there have been drastic reductions in budget allocated to the sector and water supply, sanitation and hygiene have ‘fallen between the pillars’ in the Somalia New Deal Compact.

Despite talk of improving stability and access Somalia there is no evidence of improvements in key development of even basic survival indicators. Somalia has also some of the worst indicators for access to water and sanitation in the world with Joint Monitoring Project (JMP) estimates showing that access is decreasing in rural areas (where 63% of the population still live) with more than 90% of the population accessing water from surface and unimproved sources while more than 80% still practice open defecation.  Predictably the households most at risk from drought, disease and malnutrition related to poor WASH access are those in the regions where the conflict is most acute and periods of stability are rare.

Between August and October 2014 CHC conducted a scoping study for Swedish International Department for Aid (SIDA). The objective of the study was to suggest to SIDA options for support to WASH in Somalia for the 2013-2017 periodbased on an analysis of the WASH situation in Somalia and the exploring of various scenarios.

The analysis of the WASH sector led to the identification of exhaustive lists of program options. Using a carefully selected set of principles and criteria, the list of programmes was given a priority ranking. The most important criteria being the potential impact (scalability, feasibility, sustainability),  the contribution to Health & Nutrition outcomes, New Deal (PSG 4&5), conflict resolution, resilience/ livelihood, economic development and environmental sustainability. This process was endorsed during the experts brainstorming meeting in September.  Six priority programmes emerged for SIDA support as shown in the graphic below. CHC has recommended distinct principles and modalities to guide implementation of each of these programmes.

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