Image Source: qaranimo.com

This picture that you see is showing the Shabeele river refilling after it dried up recently.  The Somalis had a big discussion concerning the drying river. Some blamed Ethiopia building a big Dam to deviate the water stream from the river. Some even went further saying that it was one of the Ethiopian conspiracies to cause drought and lack of water in Somalia as millions of Somali livestock owners and farmers depend on the river to survive. Is it true that Ethiopia has done that on purpose?

One could expect anything from Ethiopia when it comes to Somalia. The past experiences are not good so the Somalis do not have high expectations from the Ethiopian regime. The civil society is different and you could see varying opinions from the Ethiopian civilians in regard of Somalia and the Somalis. The Menelik’s greed to colonize other Africans (That was expressed in the letter he wrote to the Berlin conference where Europeans were planning to divide Africa among them) by asking the Europeans to give his part of the continent to colonize, the 1977 war, and the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006 motivated by the United States where later Meles admitted defeat and exhaustion of his troops, and Ethiopian army’s coming back to Somalia with a different face posing as AMISOM troops resulted the Somalis’ lack of trust in Ethiopian regime even if it would have good intentions. This resulted the believe that Ethiopia built a dam to strangle the water source from millions of Somalis. Yet, there may be other explanations to the problem.

Ethiopia itself was facing a terrible drought that resulted the outcry of the world. Many Ethiopians were facing hunger and lack of water as the wells dried up. The UNHCR  was making announcements asking for help to assist those in dire need for food and water in Ethiopia. We have seen a few videos filmed in Ethiopia showing how dramatic the situation is there. Because of the drought that affected the Ethiopian high land and the lack of rain on those mountains that supply the river, it may have had dried up. But, in reality, who needs to build a dam?

I think it is us, the Somalis, who need to build a dam to decrease the flooding that cause the loss of lives and finance. I know that we can’t afford modern dam building as we don’t have the technology and the finance but several small dams built by the locals can save the lives, finance and lost water that could be used when in need. I am very sure that if the local people unite work together they can make the difference in building local dams. There needs to be precaution in case dams are built.

When dams are built, there should be walls built around them and gates closed to protect the children and the animals to fall or go into the dam. Of course, it will need a planning, financing, and organizing the work but I am sure that the locals can do it if they get some expertise from local engineers. Imagine building 5 to 10 dams between Buulaburte and Janaale-Buulomareerto area, which is close to where the Shabeele river streams into the Indian Ocean. This would help to reserve water for the nomads, the farmers to irrigate in times of need,  and also decrease the flooding of the river.

In conclusion, the Shabeele river is a very important source of water to both the urban and rural areas of three regions in Somalia. Hiiraan, Shabeelada dhexe, and the Shabeelada Hoose regions benefit from the Shabeele river in many ways. The dry up of the river was given different interpretations by the Somalis including  a believe that Ethiopia had built a dam to cut water from Somalia. It is important in this case to also consider the possibility that the drought the hit Ethiopia might have dried up the river. If one needs to build a dam, it should be the Somalis to decrease the damage caused by flooding of the river every year and also to decrease the waste of usable water that streams into the see.

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