The skilled technicians bringing water to Hargeisa
In the first phase of the Somaliland Development Fund (SDF), two of HWA’s employees had the opportunity to trained in how to install large plastic pipes. Mowlid Abdilahi Ahmed and Khadar Mohamed Yusuf learnt new skills that were to prove of long-term relevance for Hargeisa Water Agency, the organisation responsible for the water supply to Somaliland’s capital. Right from the start, this was a big responsibility, because HDPE (high-density polyethlene) pipes were being used for the first time in HWA, so the work had to be done correctly and efficiently. But as the years passed and their experience grew these two technicians became real assets to the agency.
The father of 10 children, Mowlid Abdilahi Ahmed, has been employed by HWA since 2015, first as an operator and then as a plumber based at the plant outside of Hargeisa. His plumbing skills advanced when he was given the chance to join a team chosen to learn about the installation of HDPE pipes by a Chinese contractor and then to lead subsequent projects of a similar nature. When asked how the skill transfer proceeded, Mowlid reflects, "Under the guidance of experienced trainers, we practiced the intricate process of installing HDPE pipes, including cutting, molding, fittings, and putting them on the ground. We also observed and received on-the-job training about quality supervision and setting up washout chambers in the sites outside Hargeisa."
He then had the opportunity to work on an SDF-funded water project that expanded Hargeisa's water supply by leading the installation and fixing of more than four distribution lines, totalling around 35km of HDPE pipelaying. Mowlid worked tirelessly to ensure that these project activities were completed on time and to the highest standards. He says, "Being part of this project was a great experience for me. I learned a lot more about HDPE pipes and how to install them properly. It was a challenging project, but we were able to overcome all the obstacles and complete it successfully."
Khadar Mohamed Yusuf, 45, received similar training with Mowlid on the installation of HDPE pipes. As an on-the-job trainee and on his first assignment, he played a crucial role in the installation of 28 km of HDPE pipes that connected four boreholes in Hora Hadley to the New Geed Deeble Pumping Station outside Hargeisa. Ahmed's dedication and hard work were recognized, and as a result, HWA deployed him to a German company working on water distribution lines. Here he lead another HDPE installation but this time within Hargeisa city. He then worked on a further SDF-supported project that involved laying 7.5km of HDPE pipelines to the New Geed Deeble Pumping Station.
Currently, Khadar is working on yet another SDF-funded project that involves connecting three boreholes to the New Geed Deeble Pumping Station through 12km of HDPE pipes. He says, "I am proud to be part of a team that is working tirelessly to improve access to clean drinking water in Hargeisa City. The skills I have acquired through on-the-job training have enabled me to make a meaningful contribution to these projects."
So what once seemed like a massive task has now become an opportunity. Experienced employees like Mowlid and Khadar, armed with technical skills and determination have put the HWA in a good place going forward; skill transfer has meant HWA can now improve the city's water supply infrastructure with far less reliance on costly external contractors.
Although unlike formal training, on-the-job capacity building may go undocumented, helping build a skilled work force is an important aspect of all the projects in ministries and agencies that SDF funds. Indeed comparable capacity building formed part of the Water Improvement Project in Boroma.