In need of water for life


Location of activities

Eastern Ethiopia region, Kebribeyah refugee camp and its surrounding refugee-affected local communities in Jarar Valley.




16,387 Somali refugees who mainly originate from the south-central region of Somalia that is currently under political and security turmoil, over 80% of whom are women and children; communities of Somali refugee-hosting areas (approximate population: 14,533 inhabitants).


Current situation and proposed activities

Under the current proposal, UNHCR in collaboration with Saint Lazare wish to present water sector support activities for those Somali refugees and their host communities, considering the facts that:

- This lowland, desert area is an extremely difficult location to supply with a humanly acceptable level of water without concerted humanitarian intervention;

- Due to the water-stressed nature of the region, the water supply to refugees is a key factor which determines the success or failure of the entire assistance programme;

- Because of the recent turmoil in the south-central region of Somalia, this region of Ethiopia is receiving fresh arrivals of refugees, and the influx could further increase in the future. The coping mechanism of the host community is overstretched today, and at its breaking point;

- Despite media spotlight on the political development inside Somalia, the attention of the international community to refugee protection activities in Ethiopia is very limited, if not marginal, as its programme is often perceived as 'protracted' and with 'less positive progress.' As a result of chronic underfunding, its budget is cut to a bare minimum, where staff and partners are struggling to cover 'life-saving' interventions within a minimum level of resource allocation;

- While UNHCR’s programme for Eritreans is equally pressed with resource availability, the security situation in eastern Ethiopia is more conducive to receiving a donor visit in comparison with the insecure northern region, where Eritrean refugees are based.


Project 07/AB/ETH/CM/200


That refugees have access to adequate quantities of potable water for drinking, cooking and hygiene purposes.


Impact targets

That refugees are supplied with minimum of 15 litres of potable water per person per day. That incidents of water distribution-related problems due to long queues are minimized through increased distribution time. That 95% of the population has access to water points within 200m.


Due to the general water scarcity in the region, the water needs of the Kebribeyah refugee camp can be met only by pumping from the deep water table to a public water system (the Jarar Valley water supply system), which receives UNHCR support for its day-to-day operation and maintenance. Once water arrives in the camp through the system, it is stored in central water tanks, from which it is periodically distributed at 7 water distribution points inside Kebribeyah refugee camp. Currently, refugees are provided and can consume just 11 litres of water per person on average for their daily needs, including drinking, cooking and washing.


In theory, the Jarar Valley water supply system is capable of providing water for the whole area including refugees, locals and livestock, except for inefficient installation in places (for example, due to damaged pipe networks, the leakage rate has been as high as 30%) and lack of managerial skills on the part of the regional and local institutions to run the scheme. UNHCR provides them with fuel costs and lubricants in lieu of water fees, so that it can continue to pump the water and supply the refugees.


Inside the refugee camp, UNHCR also supports the maintenance of the water distribution points and the cleaning of the water tanks. In 2007-2008, UNHCR continues to improve managerial skills and operational efficiencies.

Project 07/AB/ETH/RP/372



That refugee and host communities in and around the Kebribeyah area and in Jijiga town have improved access to potable water through UNHCR’s rehabilitation support to the Jarar Valley water supply system in preparation for eventual handing over to the host communities and the local administration. That the Kebribeyah community and local administration receive capacity-building support in water system management, including the completion of the outstanding parts of the Jarar Valley water supply system.


Impact targets

Beneficiaries would be supplied with minimum of 15 litres of water per day per person. The Jarar Valley water supply system would be sustainably operated and maintained so as to provide refugees and the local population with adequate quantities of potable water without interruption.


In view of the critical importance of water supply to the survival of refugees, instituting proper management for the Jarar Valley water supply system will continue to be the major preoccupation for UNHCR at Kebrebeyah camp. Sustainable water system development will also be the priority sector for UNHCR-sponsored rehabilitation activities in light of the scaling down of its Somali protection and assistance operation and eventual exit from eastern Ethiopia region in the long run.


In order to support the water sector, building the sustainability of the Jarar Valley water supply system is in everybody's best interest, as the refugees in Kebribeyah depend entirely on the system for their water supply. Any malfunctioning of the system would necessitate water trucking, which is an extremely expensive and unsustainable venture.


Under the current proposed project, UNHCR undertakes to ensure that the number of water distribution points is increased, the 21km access road to Jarar Valley borehole field is repaired, and the remaining unfinished elements of the Jarar Valley water supply system are completed.


This work includes the replacement of pipes, installation of cables and generators, connection of lines to the central generator, the replacement of damaged and inadequate pipes, rehabilitation of boreholes, installation of a water system in the primary school, and the connection of one borehole in Jijiga to the central system.


UNHCR also aims to train the staff of the Jarar Valley water supply system to improve their managerial efficiency and competence by engaging two national UN Volunteer animators.


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