As I walked through the camps in Mogadishu, I was overwhelmed by a sea of makeshift homes, put together with scraps of tin, wood and plastic. At the Muslim Hands Community Well, children were queuing with their mothers, holding on to their yellow jerry cans as they waited to collect water for the day. I immediately saw a crowd around Farhan Ali, the Water Community Head (every community well Muslim Hands installs is maintained by a committee of local stakeholders). He was addressing the other camp residents and making du’a for the precious gift Muslim Hands donors had provided during their most urgent time of need.
When we visited his home, we saw the minimal possessions he had. Farhan moved to Mogadishu from Qoryoley eight months ago with his wife and six children. Back home, he was a farmer with 40 cattle and 30 goats, but before he left, only two cows and four goats remained. These he gave to his father so he could support himself, as he was too old to travel the 105km journey that the family did on foot.
‘Most of my animals died because of drought and disease. Being a farmer is all that I know and now I don’t have much to provide for my family. My wife supports us by buying milk and filling two jerry cans which she then sells to people, making $6 a day. This income allows us to buy food for our family,’Farhan told us.
During our interview his two grandchildren came into the room and he lovingly gave them water to drink. We asked if he felt lucky that he has a water source on his doorstep and he replied, ‘yes we are because when I first arrived at the camp I didn’t have water for six months. You can’t even find water of this quality because it is so expensive. This water has given us a new lease of life, improved hygiene in the camps and for that we are extremely grateful.’
It has been reported by OCHA that 80% of water sources are drying up because of the ongoing drought. Without this intervention, families like Farhan would be forced to walk for miles and pay up to $3 dollars a day for 40 litres of unclean water.
Being the Water Community Head means that Farhan is part of a council of elders who look after the well, ensuring that it is accessible to 400 families every morning and evening, so that everyone has a fair opportunity to get the water they need.
When asked about the future Farhan started to cry because of the ongoing difficulties he faces: ‘We hope the rains return so that we can go back home. I am very grateful for the donors and I send my dua’s so that Allah (swt) continues to support them. But we ask for more because we are so in need, and we hope that the donors will continue to give.’