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War in Somalia

A war on water: one family’s struggle in Somalia

Imagine turning on a tap and seeing dirty water pour out. What would you do? Would you drink it? Would you wash your hands in it? Would you give some to your child?

Grandmother Fatuma had no choice but to use contaminated water when the source got damaged in her village, libaaho, in Somalia . She has twelve children and many grandchildren –with no way of finding clean water – she was forced to give it to them too.

Fatuma’s story is all too common across Somalia where safe water is scarce. Years of conflict, recurrent flooding and drought have had a severe impact on the country’s infrastructure. It’s left millions of Somalis living in extreme poverty and only 45% having access to good water sources.

Conflict in Somalia has damaged water sources, putting people at risk to disease, we're committed to rebuilding and constructing water sources to keep families safe.

Photo: Peter Biro/IRC

Without clean water, families like Fatuma’s are put at a huge risk of developing life-threatening conditions. Diseases such as cholera , which is caused by drinking water contaminated with bacteria, claim hundreds of lives every year in Somalia. Women and children bear the brunt of these health concerns.

Water is an essential step to improving living conditions and growing the economy, businesses struggle to survive when water is difficult to access.

The International Rescue Committee is building and restoring water sources across Somalia to ensure more people can keep their families safe. Last year, the IRC fixed Iibaaho’s system, providing fresh, clean water to the whole village.

“Now my family has enough clean water every day,” Fatuma told us.

Learn more

We're helping families in Somalia who have been affected by devastating conflict rebuild their lives. 

In partnership with the European Commission's Humanitarian aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), the IRC was able to respond to the needs of people in Somalia.