As soon as rain falls, the narrow streets of the poor neighborhood of Dar Sad in Aden are flooded with muddy water. Zakaria and his friends are used to it and it doesn’t stop them from playing barefoot among the rubbish by the precarious sewer drain, walking on the wooden boards displayed by the residents to cross the street.
“I have two children,” says Mohamed Ahmed Awad, a 52-year-old resident of Dar Sad district, “and it’s been years that we are all suffering the consequences of the open sewage. We get infected from cholera and other diseases,” continues Mohamed while cleaning the street in front of his house. “Sometimes, I cannot get out in the street, we are not able to cross it because of the waste water,” says Maram Bashir, a young girl of 13 years old, who also lives in Dar Sad district.
In Yemen, more than four years of ravaging conflict have left sanitation and water systems either damaged or non-functional.
Access to health services and water points has deteriorated, leading to increased caseloads of cholera. From January to June 2019 alone, there have been 439,812 suspected cases of cholera, with 695 associated deaths. Children under five and elderly people represent the most vulnerable populations when exposed to water-borne diseases.
As part of its integrated cholera response, UNICEF works closely with the local water authorities to scale up cholera prevention and response activities, including through the Rapid Response Teams and sanitation Quick Impact Projects (QIPs). So far this year, over 8 million people have been reached with water, sanitation and hygiene cholera response and preventative interventions across Yemen in high-risks areas.
These projects have a great impact of the lives of children and their families living in informal settlements, who are particularly exposed to sanitation risks. Most are not connected to public networks or have unemptied cesspits, leading to open sewage and worsening health outcomes for vulnerable populations. Through the QIPs, UNICEF is repairing and rehabilitating sanitation systems and networks in urban and peri-urban areas, improving access to safe water and sanitation services for vulnerable families.
A total of 350,000 people directly benefited from the QIPs in high-risk districts in Aden and Sana’a since the beginning of the year.
These QIPs are directly supported by the European Commission, through its Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, which is a key partner of UNICEF in Yemen in particular in cholera response and emergency WASH assistance for vulnerable children and their communities.