Real lives

Feature stories


Protecting communities from public health risks in the World Heritage sites in Yemen

Workers rehabilitating the sewage system in the heart of Sana’a old city.
©UNICEF Yemen/2019/ Moohialdin Fuad

By Marie Bracquemont, Reports Officer for UNICEF Yemen

Sana’a, Yemen, 15 April 2019 – Four years ago, Sana’a was known for other reasons than being the capital city of a country facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. A UNESCO world heritage site, the old city of Sana’a is famous for its strikingly decorated brick towers and 2,500-year-old storied buildings.

Unfortunately, the recent escalation of violence in Sana’a has led to the destruction of some of the existing infrastructure, including the water and sanitation system of the old city. The underground water and sewage network which was built in the 1980s has deteriorated to the point that the population has to live with daily water cuts and leaks. This became a major health threat for the children playing in the streets who are more exposed to cholera and other water-borne diseases.

With the support of UNICEF, the Local Water and Sanitation Cooperation started the rehabilitation of the existing sewage infrastructure, which consists of 21 kilometres of sewer lines carrying a flow of waste water of 80,000 cubic metres per day. This is a particularly delicate project since most of the buildings through which the network runs are part of the world heritage and require an exceptional care.

Using a camera to inspect the underground network and identify potential risks without damaging the houses, the Local Water and Sanitation Corporation of Sana’a carried out desludging activities to reduce the pressure on the main sewer line, replaced the pipes and connected the network to a waste water management plant to ensure a safe sanitation infrastructure within the old city.

A child overlooking his neighborhood in Sana’a city. Sewage overflows and poor sanitation are some of the main reasons for the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera.
©UNICEF Yemen/2019/ Moohialdin Fuad

A worker digging for new sewer pipes to be installed through the UNICEF-supported water and sanitation network rehabilitation project, which helps provide children and their families with clean water in Sana’a old city.
©UNICEF Yemen/2019/ Moohialdin Fuad

Dislodging is necessary to reduce the pressure on the main sewer line and avoid further water leaks.
©UNICEF Yemen/2019/ Moohialdin Fuad

UNICEF Representative in Yemen Sara Beysolow Nyanti and UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen Lise Grande visiting the sanitation project site in Sana’a old city. ©UNICEF Yemen/2019/Ahmed Abdulhaleem

UNICEF WASH Specialist visiting a site in Sana’a city where rehabilitation of sewage system will be soon launched. ©UNICEF Yemen/2019/ Moohialdin Fuad

With these sanitation response efforts, carried out through quick impact projects, UNICEF and its partners are able to improve the existing infrastructure and make sure children are protected from preventable diseases such as acute watery diarrhea/cholera. Moreover, these projects maintain an environment clean from overflowing untreated sewage which can be a severe public health risk. The Quick Impact Projects (small-scale, low cost projects implemented within a short timeframe) have been implemented with the contribution of the European Commission Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, a long-standing partner of UNICEF, committed to achieve results for the most affected and vulnerable children and families in Yemen.



 Email this article

unite for children