At the site of a haffir, or water reservoir, in Shabboha, a small village near El Obeid, North Kordofan’s capital, residents of eight villages are participating in a Food-For-Work project implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP). The project, supported by the government of Japan, is run in partnership with Al-Sugya, a local NGO helping communities that have low access to potable water. When fully rehabilitated, the haffir will provide water to a population of 3,280 people.
Shabboha, NORTH KORDOFAN- Groups of people dig, shovel and remove dirt away from the basin of a haffir in Shabboha, some crouched close to the ground and others mounted on donkeys’ backs.
Mohammed Al-Amin, a 42 year old father of four, is among those digging the soil. Despite wearing a prosthetic leg, he is hard at work.
“With the food I get from my work I can feed my family and provide them with other basic needs,” said Mohamed. “My participation in this project will contribute to solving the issue of water scarcity in the area. I do not know how else I could have managed to support my family.”
Through its food-for-work programme, WFP provides food to local communities as seasonal support in order to participate in the rehabilitation work. The participants receive cash vouchers for 10 work days. Technically, excavation of one cubic meter and removal of the dirt away from the haffir basin takes 5 work days. With the vouchers they receive, beneficiaries can choose to buy from 12 different food items, including wheat, lentils and meat, according to their preferences from a local shop located near the worksite.
Water is an expensive and scarce commodity in the region and many villagers are forced to cross long distances to collect it. The closest water sources can often be as far as 38 and 42 kms away.
The food Mohammed gets will help him feed his family during the lean season when people have to migrate to other places in search of work.
“The haffir project is vital to the area as it contributes to the settlement of the population, which in turn leads to the establishment of schools and health centers and other essential institutions. Overall, it contributes to the development of these areas,” said Ibn Omar, manager of rural development in the West Bara locality.
Shabboha haffir was originally constructed in 1994 with a capacity of 30,000 cubic meters. Now with this rehabilitation the new capacity will be 35,000 cubic meters which is sufficient to provide water to the nearby communities for 6 months following the rainy season.