Somaliland is a water scarce, drought prone country. Water is a precious resource and an important public good. The public private partnership (PPP) model has demonstrated that people will benefit from the private management of water, if the public’s interest are met. PPP is relatively new concept to Somaliland in the Water Sector and has shown potential to be scaled up. This article will compare and contrast the public sector agency and PPP models in two towns in Somaliland. Often, fragile countries like Somaliland lack the capacity and will for sustainability.

In June 2013 the president of Somaliland, Honourable Ahmed M. Mahmoud (Siilaanyo), acknowledged the need to have a dedicated state entity responsible for water resources and the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) was separated from the former Ministry of Mining, Energy and Water Resources (M,E&WR). In terms of regulatory framework, the current government enacted the Somaliland National Water Act in March of 2011.

Ministry of Water Resources and UNICEF, under a four year EU funded project “Improving Urban Water Service Delivery in Somaliland”, have worked together with the respective municipal authorities to develop both models. The key focus of this project included management and operational issues, regulatory framework and performance monitoring of water service providers, capacity development and Pro-Poor regulatory measures. It aims to ensure that well-planned investment in more efficient water systems in selected towns is underpinned by a common, Somaliland-wide approach to service delivery with better public-private arrangements, a more capable public oversight, and a stronger focus on service delivery to the most vulnerable. Recent research, commissioned under the project, demonstrates that both models are viable. In the case of the public utility model in Burao, it almost collapsed in 2010 due poor management if it were not for the timely intervention of the MoWR.

The PPP model introduced in Boroma town since 2003 has worked relatively well but the need to review the performance monitoring and pro-poor regulatory measures were recognized in 2013.  Both models have one new aspect in common, an empowered water user associations which advocate for the rights of the consumers – a significant game changer.

Water is scarce resource in Somaliland affecting especially the urban & peri-urban areas, with population growth rate of 4.1% (urban – 2014).  The rainy seasons are Gu (April-June) and Deyr (September-October). Somaliland could be characterised as arid or semi-arid and is a drought prone country, the average precipitation is 300mm, but the evapotranspiration is over 2,000mm. Recently climate variations and El Nino effects have resulted in below average rainfall. FAO-SWALIM has predicted below normal Deyr rainfall.


Since its inception, the Ministry of Water Resources roles and responsibilities has grown significantly. MoWR has increased the capacity of the water sector, become more focused, better structured and has built the capacity of the employees at the headquarters, regional & district levels.  The mandate of the relatively infant ministry is setting water policy, planning, budgeting, regulatory framework, enforcement and providing oversight for PPP arrangements and public sector service delivery.

The MoWR, through the decentralization policy has strengthened the regional and district offices throughout the country in view of the Joint Programme on Local Governance & Decentralization Service Delivery (JPLG). The Somaliland National Water Policy clearly acknowledges the need for planning, implementation and management at local level, taking into account the local context, demand and capacities.  Related decisions can be taken at local level, with information, guidelines and authorization provided by central government, the Water Policy is a blue print for decentralization.

UNICEF, as the water sector lead in Somaliland,  advocates for  the well-being of children and vulnerable groups through increasing access to sustainable water supply and removing the barriers to improved sanitation and hygiene practices that impact health  in collaboration with the government of Somaliland and sector partners.  The August 2015 knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP), study commissioned by UNICEF, indicates that Somalia did not meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for water or sanitation. The biggest donor in the water sector in Somaliland is the European Union (EU), who have invested over US$28 million in urban water projects over the past 5 years through UNICEF, MoWR and UN-Habitat. Two towns within this investment plan have evolved different operation and management models and this article will compare these models to highlight their advantages and challenges.



The article has been extracted recently held WEDC conference paper on July, 2016 in Kumasi, Ghana. Below are the links that can be viewed full citation and have published the refereed article:




Faisal Hashi, MBA, is a consultant for MoWR who writes on issues about development, Water, Hygiene & Sanitation (WASH) and is the founder and managing director of Adam Financial Consulting Services and is currently based in Hargeisa, Somaliland. He has worked for National City Bank, Bank One, J.P, Morgan Chase & City of Toronto as financial analyst in the US & Canada.

Hargeisa, Somaliland

He can be reached at: