A sustained water system was launched on Sunday by Somaliland, the EU and the UN children’s fund (UNICEF) in northern Somalia.

According to a joint statement issued in Mogadishu, some 800,000 people will now have sustainable access to safe drinking water thanks to the concerted efforts by Somaliland government, private water companies and communities.

“Water is a basic right. It plays a crucial role in our lives. We are glad that the people of Somaliland and in particular Tog Wajaale now have access to clean and affordable water,” EU ChargĂ© d’Affaires to Somalia Fulgencio Garrido Ruiz said.

“We are extremely proud to be here, witnessing this important milestone and the realization of the prayers of so many communities to have access to safe and clean water for the first time,” he added.

Water systems in four towns — Borama, Burao, Erigavo and Tog Wajaale — were rehabilitated or rebuilt with the funding provided by the EU and technical support from UNICEF and partners.

According to UNICEF, some 68 percent of the population have access to a reliable water source in Somaliland.

However, the disparity between urban and rural areas is significant, the UN agency said, noting that only 28 percent of households can access an improved water source in rural areas.

For many Somaliland communities, their struggle to get clean water is compounded by poor infrastructure and intensifies in periods of crisis such as the 2017 drought.

UNICEF Acting Representative Jesper Moller said access to safe, affordable and sustainable water is a dream for so many people in Somaliland.

“Today, that dream has finally been realized for many children, women and their families in Somaliland. We are grateful for the government’s strong leadership and the EU’s generous funding in making this huge undertaking a success,” said Moller.

He said the water project is a true testament to the commitment and hard work of all partners involved, and the courage, resourcefulness and resilience of the people of Somaliland.