DUBAI // A project to rebuild 60 water wells will help hundreds of thousands of people suffering from drought and famine in southern Somalia.
The Dh9 million initiative, sponsored by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Charity and Humanitarian Establishment and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), will begin the first phase of rebuilding next month in Mogadishu, Juba and Shabelle.
Ibrahim Boumelha, the vice chairman of the establishment, said that without access to clean water, disease remained a serious concern to victims of the deadly drought and famine.
"We found some wells with a little water that were not functioning so we will fix those already in place to save lives and alleviate suffering," said Mr Boumelha. "The beginning phase will involve the rebuilding of 20 wells. We plan to build more wells during phase two."
At least 1.5 million people have been displaced by the drought, said Ambassador Atta El Manan Bakhit, the assistant secretary general of humanitarian affairs at the OIC.
"This project is of great importance and will immediately benefit those suffering," said Mr Bakhit.
"It will also prepare Somalia for a period of recovery as rains are expected from October, so hopefully agriculture will also spring back."
Mr Bakhit said the organisations had managed to receive clearance into some of the most dangerous areas of Somalia. "We have access to areas that are even controlled by Al Shabbab [rebel Islamist militants] so that we can provide food and humanitarian assistance."