Click here to view pictures taken from the field trip to Somalia.


Somalia has been without a government to provide security for its citizens or to protect its borders and territorial waters for the past 14 years. During this period, Somalia’s people endured a brutal civil war, natural disasters, starvations, social instability etc. The untold misery, which the people suffered, was paralleled by an incalculable damage to the environment, potentially more catastrophic for the nation’s long-term survival than all the other disasters blamed on the lawlessness of the civil war and the armed conflict era. During this period of crisis, Somalia, a water scare country has experienced its worst water scarcity situations, and has allowed its environment to degrade to a level that can't be described in words.

There are no secure safe water supply sources for the entire nation for number of reasons. Country’s water infrastructure has totally collapsed due to civil war and lack of maintenance. Severe scarcity and misuse of freshwater in Somalia pose a serious and growing threat to people’s life and protection of the environment. The country experiences water pollution problems causing human health problems; lack of secure and safe access of water sources, misdisposal of wastewater contaminating land and water resources; devastating floods causing substantial destruction; and recurrent droughts severely affecting the people’s life, animals and the natural environment. In light with these major unprecedented challenges, the country lacks not only political and social stability but also human and financial resources to set up institutional capacities and water infrastructures that are desperately needed to handle the crisis. There are no plans and programs for water issues in general and water and environmental education in particular. The country lacks also active organisations working in the field of water and environment.

SCWE (Somali Centre for Water and Environment), a non-profit organsiation legally registered in Sweden, was created to increase the level of environmental understanding and water awareness among the Somali people, particularly in their time of greatest need. Attempting to realise its objectives, SCWE established a link with Mogadishu University (MU) in Somalia as a part of its program campaigns to address degrading environment in Somalia and water problems in urban areas. As lack of education is a major challenge in the country, awareness raising could be the foundation for better engagement with all levels of society.

This is a report from a study visit carried out by SCWE between December 2003 and January 2004 to Mogadishu, Somalia in close collaboration with MU. The study visit, which took three weeks, is partly funded by Sweden.

Aim of the study visit

The main aim of the visit to Mogadishu was (i) to meet representatives of the MU for discussions about already identified areas of concerns in the field of water and environment, (ii) to carry out a pilot study in the field of water and environmental problems of the city, and (iii) to observe the city from water and environmental point of view. The study was planned to formulate a detailed program and produce work plan for water and environmental education campaigns in Somalia with MU, and to define the range and scope of the activities for raising the overall awareness of people in the field of water and environment.

Activities, meetings and findings


At our first meeting with representatives of MU in Mogadishu on 22nd December 2003 we agreed to set up a working plan defining activities, meetings, points of discussions, seminars, visits and other social events. During our stay in Mogadishu we have carried out a number of activities related to water and environmental issues giving us the opportunities to observe and study the city from different aspects. We visited several places focusing on water and environmental areas. Taking advantage of our stay in the city, MU organised three seminars where we from SCWE adressed water and environmental issues both from global and local perspectives, and created an atmosphere of open discussion on these important topics in today’s Somalia. The participants of the seminars were mainly teachers, students and other important civil society activists, representing different organisations working in the city. Discussion meetings with MU focused on issues relating to establishment of Centre for Water & Environment and Green Library.


At the discussion meetings, MU and SCWE have first shared on their common concerns in the country’s alarming water scarcities and deteriorating environmental conditions, at a time of its deepest social crisis and political conflict. The issues discussed at the meetings were mainly related to what kind of activities that could be launched to increase the level of water and environmental awareness of the city inhabitants. We analysed deeply what steps and programmes that are needed in both short and long term. Possibilities for fund-raising with the regard of establishing the first Centre for Water & Environment and Green Library have widely been discussed. We discussed and analysed what program campaigns could suit the current needs and situations, and what type of resources are needed. A group of expertise has been assigned the technical details of the Centre and the Green Library. The discussions have also concentrated on what will be the tasks of the Centre and the Library that are agreed to establish jointly. Roles and responsibilities have also been discussed as well as the establishment and operational phases of the Centre and the Library. MU and SCWE have agreed upon all points of discussions.

The main tasks of the Centre and the Green Library will be, as agreed upon, awareness raising, information spreading, attitude change and capacity building in the field of water and environment through education and awareness campaigns. The Centre will carry out studies and research activities in water and environment areas for the benefit of the society.


During our stay in Mogadishu we have paid a visit to a number of places in the city to observe the city from water and environment aspects. Functional, reliable and secure water supply for the city is a future dream that the city inhabitants value most. Groundwater is the only source of water supply for the city. Water supply services in the city are currently run by unregulated private entities with no common vision and coordination. Nowhere in the city sewage is ever collected and treated, even before the city war. People dispose their human waste in pit latrines, which together with garbage locally dumped or left on the streets of city, pollute the groundwater resources that the city relies. Overexploitation and pollution of groundwater resources in urban areas are therefore threatening water supplies, human health and the natural environment. This urban pollution results a serious irreversible deterioration on groundwater resources. The environment is severely ignored and pollution is at its peak, this is because of no attention has been paid to what happens to water after use. Both needs and difficulties are therefore greater.

During our study, we have realised that water scarcity that is now threatening Somalia is an alarming issue that has to be addressed with extreme urgency not only by Somalia itself but also by donor communities and international organisations. Counteracting the water shortage and crisis is a serious challenge in the country, for reasons related to water supply, food security, urban stability and poverty eradication among others. It became evident to us the role of women in water management and provision and their participation in any water & environment activities are necessary.

Plans and programs

As a result from our pilot study and visit to Mogadishu and discussion and meetings with representatives of Mogadishu University, SCWE and MU will be engaged in and start a number of activities concerning water and enviromental issues of the country. Activities planned and programs launched are as follows.

Development of Centre for Water & Environment and Green Library

SCWE and MU have agreed to establish a Centre for Water & Environment Issues witihin the university system. As a part of the planned activities, a Green Library will also be developed. The major tasks that these institutions will undertake will mainly be awareness raising, information collection, research, kompetence development. The Centre and the Library will be an information and research where country’s (city’s) water and environmental issues will be addressed and analysed. The Centre will also develop ideas for water and environmental awareness campaigns and strategies for future management of water resources and protection of the environment.

These activities will be undertaken in close collaboration with both local institutions and international organisations. Local institutions include schools, universities, professional groups, civil society organisations, NGOs, state agencies etc. First target groups will be school children; university-students; community activists; business community; representative of governmental agencies.

Books and other useful materials on water and environment needed for enhancing knowledge of local communities will be collected from all available sources. Awareness increasing campaigns will be as follows.

Water and Environment Awareness Campaings

Programs for awareness raising will be one of the very important ways to achieve our specific goals for enhacing and increasing the overall knowledge on water and environment, changing attitudes and encouraging actions. We are planning to apply three basic modes of awareness raising and people involvement: Educational mode; social mode; and media mode.

Educational Mode: Education campaign will be the first action to be taken in order to increase knowledge, change attitude and encourage action, as part of water and environment education. This mode of campaign will reach both school children and university students at Mogadishu University as well as their teachers. Involving the educational sector provides great opportunities, because it is an existing system with large groups of people focusing on learning. Schools are an entry point to the community as a whole as school children are capable to spread the need for the wise use of water and protection of the environment. Students and school children are eager to learn and put into practice the knowledge they have obtained. There will be a water education for teachers as an essential and central element of water education.

Social Mode: Support from political, community and religious leaders can give water and environment awareness campaigns a powerful boost. It is therefore basic requirements for successful campaigns to involve these influential leaders in order to increase public attention to the water and environment topics. Public events where these leaders address water and environment issues will be organized for direct involving the public. Networking with community organizations and civil society, involving influential leaders and lobbying efforts will help the campaigns to find partners with similar interests.

Media Mode: Using media in a nonprofit setting aimed at awareness raising could be a very useful approach for social marketing. In Mogadishu and Somalia’s today as a whole, media became a very powerful source of information. These media based campaigns will include a wide range of broadcasting methods such as newspaper articles, radio/television programs, announcements, advertising, slogans, internet sites, and door-to-door campaigns. Campaigns through media will emphasize the need for change. To achieve this goal, it will be necessary to cooperate with local news and media agencies. This approach will aim to gain attention of the media in a way similar to Public Relation techniques used in the commercial sector.

PROJECTS resulted from the study visit, CLICK here.