As Somalia faces water shortages, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) are committing to joint action on the "Water4Life" initiative. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on 10 May 2023 in the capital Mogadishu between the two UN organizations.
In 2019, only 52% of Somalis had access to a basic water source according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). By May 2023, the situation has barely changed and the UN agency anticipates that around 6.6 million people in Somalia will face acute food insecurity until June 2023, with more than 49,000 people facing “catastrophic food shortages” due to lack of water. To avoid the worst, UNICEF recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Together, the two organisations will support the Water4Life initiative in Somalia.
Led by the Somali Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, the water project aims to improve access to safe and adequate water for household consumption and livelihoods, sustainable management of community water resources and rural water supply in Somalia.
To achieve this, FAO and UNICEF plan to establish “effective water governance systems” in the East African country. Improving water supply in Somalia will also involve building new infrastructure. As part of their partnership, the two international organisations will mobilise funds to finance the various projects. “As humanitarian aid is expected to decline from this year onwards due to insufficient funding and competing global priorities, there is an increasing need for better coordination, shared resources and collaborative efforts by UN agencies,” says UNICEF.
Mapping for Somalia’s rural water sector, drought monitoring and humanitarian response, and management of and access to ‘knowledge resources’ are other avenues to explore as Somalia moves towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6), which aims to achieve universal access to water and sanitation and sustainable water resources management by 2030.
“By working with FAO and UNICEF, we are well positioned to make great strides in our long-term strategy for water security in the country,” says Jama Taqal Abbas, Somalia’s Minister of Energy and Water Resources.