Increasing Access to Clean Water across Damaged Districts in Yemen

UNICEF with support from SIDA-Sweden was able to devise and implement a plan that takes advantage of Yemen’s desert-like climate to improve access to clean water

P.Maressa
UNICEF water projects in Yemen
UNICEF/Yemen/2021/Ahmed Haleem
26 June 2021

It is impossible to live without water. It sustains our bodies, grows our food, supports livestock, and maintains sanitation. However, the universal human need for water does not guarantee that everyone has access to it. In the sun-scorched and war-torn districts of Yemen, access to clean water can be elusive. UNICEF recognizes this basic need, and with the help of donors like SIDA-Sweden, they were able to devise and implement a plan that takes advantage of Yemen’s desert-like climate to improve access to clean water.

 In the past, water was pumped to rural areas using fuel-powered machinery. This method was somewhat effective in transporting water, but it became less accessible with the dying economy and onset of war. Water systems engineer Ali Abdullah Alhamdi had worked on the old fuel-run systems, and he noted how “it was difficult to find generator parts due to conflict”, making the system prone to long term failures. With a large portion of Yemen’s population now living in poverty, families do not have enough money to pay for the fuel necessary to transport clean drinking water to their rural districts. With thoughtful consideration of individual needs and the local environments, an effective solution was reached.

Solar farms are capable of producing enough energy on a regular basis to run the pumps needed to access safe and clean water. This renewable resource requires a high up-front cost but it provides a continuous and reliable energy source. Engineer Ali Abdullah Alhamdi has seen this new system make a difference, noting that “previously, people were receiving water once or twice a month. Right now, water is available almost all the time.” Consistent access to clean water plays a major role in the country’s ability to rebuild.

UNICEF water projects in Yemen
UNICEF/Yemen/2021/Ahmed Haleem
Solar Systems in Amran City, Yemen.

Contributing to provide the financial, intellectual, and mechanical support needed to initiate this portion of the WASH project, UNICEF, with support from donors like SIDA, has had a major impact on multiple districts within the governing city of Amran. The district of Almadan experienced one of the most extensive rehabilitations, as a water tank was installed with a capacity of 25 cubic meters. This large reservoir has effectively expanded the water network in the Amran area, allowing it to cover more beneficiaries. An even larger water tank was installed in Harf Sufyan, with a capacity of 50 cubic meters.

UNICEF water projects in Yemen
UNICEF/Yemen/2021/Ahmed Haleem
water pipes extended from solar-powered systems in Amran City, Yemen.

Once these tanks are connected to the water lines and fitted with solar-powered water pumps, a more stable and sanitary water system comes to life. In the district of Iyal Surayh, a water pumping line was installed to advance water transfer between a well and the pre-existing village tank. This improvement may seem much smaller than the addition of large water tanks, but it is just as beneficial for the people who are directly dependent on the local well. Thula District also benefited from a water tank rehabilitation project that moves water from a well that is seven kilometers away from the village through a three-stage solar energy pump process.

UNICEF water projects in Yemen
UNICEF/Yemen/2021/Ahmed Haleem
water is being pumped and reaching people in Amran City, Yemen.

Khaled Abdulwahed, the supervisor of one of these major water system renovations has noted that in Bani Maymun, “water is reaching every house right now”, which means that an estimated 6,000 people now have reliable access to safe and clean water in that district alone. 

All of the areas listed, including Raydah, have benefited from the solarization of local water pumping systems. The Yemeni people in these areas now have more access to clean water, allowing them to shift their focus to other areas of life that are still in need of advancement.

Although great progress in the drinking water systems of these areas has been made, there is still a room for more. As locals from Thela stated, the village of Al-Ain is still without clean water. Mohammed Hassan Qahtan spoke about how “people there are still drinking from swamps and dams”, all in an effort to obtain any water, clean or unclean.

UNICEF water projects in Yemen
UNICEF/Yemen/2021/Ahmed Haleem
water is being pumped and reaching people in Amran City, Yemen.

The people of Yemen are still in great need of assistance if they are to overcome the challenges created by the conflict in Yemen. There is still much work to be done in the areas of food security, access to healthcare, and educational resources, but a brighter future is possible.