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Water Crisis in Somalia

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In sub-Saharan Africa, many of the nations face growing problems as they attempt to become developed nations and escape the category of a third world, developing country. This sample essay discusses the nation of Somalia. Located on the eastern coast of Africa, this small nation faces some of the most trying battles that any nation and its people could face.

Water Crisis in Somalia 

Somalia is marauded with a number of domestic problems including poverty, lack of basic services, national debt, and security issues to name a few, however of all of these problems, the most pressing is the lack of access to clean water that the nation faces. If this issue is not acknowledged and dealt with sooner rather than later, the country could face an even direr situation than it currently is in.

Efforts have been made to combat this problem, but as of now, they have proved to be relatively ineffective. To save the lives of the people of Somalia will take a conjoined effort of multiple nations working together to provide the malnourished people of Somalia with the relief that they so desperately are seeking and deserve. The reality of the situation is quite simple: people should have the access to the most basic elements need for survival regardless of where they live, and society must take efforts to ensure that those that are denied these necessities are given a chance to receive them. 

Somalia and development

To determine the standing of a country, multiple criteria are measured and synthesized to arrive at the final designation of being either developed or developing. The criteria for making this judgment vary but include such statistical information as, “per capita, life expectancy, and literacy rates,” (Kuepper, 2011). The most comprehensive definition for the development of a nation comes from the International Monetary Fund, which takes into account,

“per capita income, export diversification, and the degree of integration into the global financial system,” (Kuepper, 2011).

The statistical evidence provided by Somalia most definitely links this small nation as being, at best, developing

The statistical data generated by Somalia is rather startling. The data shows that the nation faces some major domestic issues that need the immediate attention of the government to provide its citizens the basic necessities to live a normal, productive life. The following data shows just some of the major issues that face Somalia. As this information clearly shows, Somalia is indeed facing some of the most trying times that a nation could face. Of the 10 poorest nations in the world, Somalia was actually listed as number 6 according to a report released by the Huffington Post in 2010 based upon the Multidimensional Poverty Index (Hindman, 2010).

Water crisis

Of all the issues that face Somalia, there is none that is so important as to solving the clear water crisis that the citizens of Somalis currently face. As shown by the statistical evidence, the vast majority of the citizens of Somali have no access to a source of clean, usable water. With water in such scarcity for the nation, the cost of water is extremely high and unaffordable for the majority of the population.

According to a man that lives in the area, a 200-litre drum of water can cost the upward of 200,000 Somali shillings, or roughly 7 US dollars (IRIN, 2009). That equates to a litre of water costing roughly 1,000 Somali shillings, which is still a significant proportion of the average citizen’s income. In fact, the majority of the population lives on much less than the cost for any amount of water, as the nation experiences a poverty rate of 81.2% (Hindman, 2010). It is the lack of one of the most basic elements of life that leads to many issues that the country faces.

Some of the most affected by the shortage, or complete lack, of usable water are the children of the nation. First, in Somalia, like in other poor countries, it is the children that are routinely sent out to collect the water that is needed for a family to maintain their life style and carry out basic daily functions such as drinking or cooking. However, without a readily available source of water at their disposal, it is not uncommon for children to have to travel a great distance to gather the water needed for basic survival.

It has been reported that some children have to travel as far as 20 kilometers to gather the necessary amounts of drinking water for their families to survive (IRIN, 2009). That means that not only do the children have to travel 20 km to gather the water, but also that they must then travel back the same distance with the added weight of the water that they need for all those of their family to use for the day.

This can lead to some serious issues for the children simply because of the amount of energy that is expended in gathering the water that is needed for basic survival, especially considering that they amount of nutrition that a child receives is far less than the amount of energy that they can expend to just gather the supplies needed to prepare a meal. 

Spread of disease

One of the other impending issues that stems from the lack of access to usable water is the disease that accompanies the ingestion of tainted water by the citizens of Somalia. As with most disease, the children of the nation are some of the most effected by this, especially considering that the majority of the population in Somalia is made of younger individuals such as IDPs (internally displaced persons).

With the consumption of water that is not clean, come water-related diseases such as diarrhea (including cholera). This alone accounts for roughly 20 percent of Somalia’s infant mortality rate, which is 108 per every 1,000 live births for children under the age of 5 (IRIN, 2009). What this shows is that not only is the water that is available unusable for the general population, but it also shows the desperation that the individuals of the nation are facing on a daily basis as they will continue to try to utilize this poor quality water because they are faced with no real alternative and bottled water is largely not available, or too expensive here.

One of the less apparent but still prevalent issues that come as a direct result of a lack of access to water is in the form of the poor sanitation that plagues the nation of Somalia. Without the means of acquiring usable water and being reduced to attempting to use tainted water as a means of basic survival, the people of Somalia generally do not view water as a means of cleaning and maintaining a sanitary lifestyle.

The national average of those that are able to have access to a supply of water for cleaning purposes is at a staggering low of 39% (UNICEF, 2011). For the 61% of the nation that does not have the access to water for sanitation purposes, it would be absurd to waste precious water on something that seems as trivial as maintaining good hygiene when faced with the possibility of having no water for the most basic of functions such as drinking and cooking. Therefore, the individuals that find themselves in this situation are more likely to forego proper sanitation and conserve the water that they have for the most basic uses of it as possible.

Drinking Water and Health in Africa

Of course, proper sanitation is a necessity for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and, unfortunately, the individuals that have to forego their own hygiene and sanitation are simply placing themselves at a much greater risk for contracting disease. As reported by many health officials, there is a direct link between

“children’s health and nutritional well-being to their access to safe water and proper sanitation,” (UNICEF, 2011).

The analysis of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) shows this correlation quite well. The data collected from surveys of households from 2009 and 2010 shows an extremely close correlation between,

“Areas of high malnutrition and areas with poor access to water and sanitation,” (UNICEF, 2011).

The question then becomes why would individuals place themselves in such a risk for contracting such disease when the alternative seems so simple?

The answer lies in the extreme circumstance that these individuals find themselves within and the lack of education about the dangers of attempting to use unclean water for purposes that it should not be used for. However, when one considers the alternative of not using the water at all, it becomes more understandable that the individuals in these extreme circumstances would at least take the chance of potential health risks over the certain death that is associated with have no water at all. It is from factors such as this that it is of the upmost importance that action be taken to provide the citizens of Somalia with the relief that that so desperately need and deserve.

Terrible choices made in Somalia

When an individual’s options have become either the consumption of poor drinking water or the certainty of death from no water, it is time for society to step in and provide relief to the people faced with this terrible ultimatum. There are several steps and important processes that can be enacted to help those that are facing these perils currently.

Some of the actions that can be taken include: proper education to the citizens of Somali to the dangers that one faces from the use of contaminated water, providing the people of the nation with clean water from foreign sources, the construction of pipelines that could transport water cheaply and effectively to the areas of the nation where there is no access currently to usable water, and to increase the general population’s awareness of the situation that the people of Somalia are facing currently.

Providing usable water to Somalia

Of all these actions, the most immediate one that can make an effect as soon as it is taken is in the relief that providing usable water would have on the citizens of Somalia. Organizations such as the United Nations or the World Health Organization need to take action to provide the citizens of the nation with water that can be used for the most basic functions of everyday life.

Though this would not entirely solve the problem that faces Somalia, it would provide some relief to those that are experiencing the worst of the water crisis currently. In addition to this, it would allow for the providers of the relief water to being to educate the people of Somalia about the dangers that they face from attempting to utilize unclean water as means for the basic functions of drinking, cooking, and cleaning. Even if this educational information will not eradicate the problem, the general knowledge could be shared by the individuals that receive it and could lead to a decrease in the population unknowingly using the tainted water for the basic functions that result in a number of different water diseases. 

Long-term solutions to the water crisis

For a more long-term solution, plans must be put into motion that will provide the people of Somalia with a means of transporting the usable water that they do have to the places that need it most within the country. The best means for doing this is in the creation of a pipeline system that would transport water across the country. This would serve two major purposes.

The first, and more obvious, being that it would provide the people of the nation that are living in the most unreachable areas with a source of clean, usable water. In addition to this, it would alleviate the children that have to journey for multiple miles in an effort to get water that can be used for their family’s basic needs. The creation of a pipeline system does not mean that every family in Somalia will suddenly receive running water at each of their homes, but it does mean that towns could have a central water supplier that would be located much closer than their current options, which are sometimes miles away.

To have these proposed solutions occur, the organizations that provide them to the people of Somalia will need a large amount of capital and resources to provide the relief necessary. This can be accomplished by bringing the situation to the public’s attention. The vast majority of people living in the developed world do not know about the water crisis that faces Somalia. The only real media coverage that is given to the nation comes in the form of the national attention that pirates of the area receive. Being that the nation is located on the coast, many individuals would be quite surprised to know that there is a water crisis currently plaguing the nation. Because of this, the majority of the population has never taken action to the needs of the many in Somalia. 

International water awareness

By bringing this situation to the attention of the individuals of the world, the necessary actions can be both funded and given the appropriate manpower. Of course, this is not to say that there are not already organizations out there attempting to provide relief to Somalia and its inhabitants. What is being pushed for is generally a larger call to action of the people of the world that have the means to make a difference.

For 7 US dollars, 200 liters of water can be provided to the people of Somalia. With over 300 million people in the US alone, there should be more than enough money to provide the people of Somalia with a copious amount of drinkable water through the acts of donation. Organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Somalia already have a basic plan for providing relief to the nation and could certainly use the extra resources for carrying out its plans that would help to provide relief to this suffering nation.

This particular organization strives to, “ensure environmental and natural resources are utilized in a sustainable, equitable, gender- and conflict-sensitive manner by supporting formulation and implementation of strategic polices,” (UNDP Somalia).


The people of Somalia face an uphill battle for their nation. In the fight for this developing, third world nation there are a multitude of problems that must be overcome. At the front and center of these issues is one of the most basic necessities for life: the access to clean, usable water. The people of Somalia have become so desperate for water in parts of the nation, where only 29% have access to it, that many have taken to the use and consumption of unclean, tainted water for the basic functions of cooking and drinking.

This has lead to the increase of many different water related diseases including cholera, which have resulted in 20% of the nations extremely high infant mortality rate for children under that age of 5. What has been shown from the statistics is that the people of Somalia are clearly in need of aid from any and all available sources. Though organizations such as UNDP Somalia are attempting to help those that are suffering within this nation, more must be done to provide the necessary relief in both the short and long term for the nation.

The creation of a pipeline system to transport water across the nation is the best long-term solution to the water crisis that faces Somalia, but its creation faces several large hazards. In the short-term, the people of Somalia need an influx of usable water for basic survival purposes. One fact remains true through all of this: the people of Somalia will need to see more aid or the number of individuals that suffer from the complications that arise from a lack of usable water (both in diseases and malnutrition) will continue to rise for this developing nation. 


Hindman, N. C. (2010, Aug 03). The 10 poorest countries in the world. Huffington Post, Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/03/the-10-poorest-countries_n_668537.html

IRIN. (2009). Somalia: Children, idps hardest hit by lack of water. IRIN: Humanitarian news and analysis, Retrieved from http://www.irinnews.org/Report/83588/SOMALIA-Children-IDPs-hardest-hit-by-lack-of-water

Kuepper, J. (n.d.). What is a developing country?. About International Investing, Retrieved from http://internationalinvest.about.com/od/gettingstarted/a/What-Is-A-Developing-Country.html

UNDP Somalia. (n.d.). Poverty reduction and environmental protection. UNDP , Retrieved from http://www.so.undp.org/index.php/Recovery-and-Sustainable-Livelihoods.html

UNICEF. (2011). Water, sanitation, and hygiene. UNICEF Somalia, Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/somalia/wes.html

World Bank. (2011). Somali: Data and statistics. The World Bank, Retrieved from http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/AFRICAEXT/SOMALIAEXTN/0,,menuPK:367691~pagePK:141132~piPK:141109~theSitePK:367665,00.html



Ultius, Inc. "Water Crisis in Somalia." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. Ultius Blog, 31 Mar. 2014. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/water-crisis-in-somalia.html

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Ultius, Inc. (2014, March 31). Water Crisis in Somalia. Retrieved from Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services, https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/water-crisis-in-somalia.html

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Ultius, Inc. "Water Crisis in Somalia." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. March 31, 2014. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/water-crisis-in-somalia.html.

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Ultius, Inc. "Water Crisis in Somalia." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. March 31, 2014. https://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/water-crisis-in-somalia.html.

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