Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

UNICEF facilitates access to clean water and sanitation services for children and their families in Yemen

UNICEF Yemen/2019/Moohialdin Fuad

The Challenge

In one of the world’s most water-scarce countries, conflict has had a strong impact on the access to water and adequate sanitation services for the Yemeni people.

In a country where 18 million people are in urgent need of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) assistance, access to clean and safe drinking water remains crucial for the good health and survival of children and their caregivers. WASH needs remain substantially high due to the increasing number of displaced people as a result of the escalation of conflict along the coastal areas of Al Hudaydah and other frontlines; natural disasters, food insecurity and epidemic outbreaks.

The disruption of public services, especially in the health and WASH sectors, large-scale displacement and the wide spread of deadly diseases, such as cholera, has made the population even more vulnerable. Overall, only one third of Yemen’s population is connected to a piped water network.

The threat of cholera and Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD) still looms high in Yemen as it recovers from one of the World’s worst outbreaks in 2017. More than 1.3 people were infected and over 2,800 people died. Children were the worst victims. In 2018, over 361,000 suspected cases were registered, with 493 associated deaths across the country. Improved water, sanitation and hygiene services in health facilities are crucial to ensure the quality of care and to minimize the risk of infections for visiting patients and their families, as well as for health workers and the communities living in the area. 

In 2019, Yemen has seen a new upsurge of AWD/suspected cholera cases continue. Since January until the end of June 2019, the caseload of AWD/suspected cholera cases rose to over 400,000. The current outbreak poses a greater threat with a fast spreading of unprecedented scale given that the situation has worsened due to the prolonged conflict affecting the WASH and health system.

The threat of cholera and Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD) still looms high in Yemen as it recovers from one of the World’s worst outbreaks in 2017. 

UNICEF/2019/Mahmoud Ahmed
Children in Tur Astani village in Lahj governorate have finally access to clean water.

The Solution

UNICEF has been scaling up its response in water, sanitation and hygiene to prevent and control diseases. The integrated WASH, Health and Communication for Development (C4D) AWD/cholera prevention and response plan focuses on high-risk AWD/suspected cholera areas, diarrhea treatment, chlorination of water sources, rehabilitation of wastewater systems and hygiene awareness. 

Together with partners, UNICEF has also been scaling up its emergency WASH assistance to ensure sustainable WASH services through capacity building of local WASH authorities, solarisation of water systems and rain water harvesting.


  • UNICEF and its partners continue to support the maintenance of operational water supply systems across Yemen. Thanks to their efforts, nearly 5 million people had access to safe drinking water and almost one million gained access to emergency safe water in 2018. Additionally, over 5.5 million people living in high-risk cholera areas had access to household-level water treatment and disinfection.
  • UNICEF provides substantial WASH humanitarian assistance to internally displaced populations in collaboration with partners through water trucking, installation of water points and communal water tanks, construction of emergency latrines, distribution of hygiene kits and household water treatment tablets, reaching almost 1 million displaced people in 2018.
  • In urban areas, UNICEF WASH support includes provision of fuel, electricity, spare parts, water quality monitoring and disinfectants for chlorination of water supply. UNICEF supports Local Water and Sanitation Corporations (LWSCs) with operation, and maintenance of waste water and rehabilitation of sewage systems in 15 cities across Yemen.
  • In improving sustainable WASH services, the General Authority for Rural Water Supply Projects (GARWSP) completed the installation of 29 solar powered water schemes in 2018, covering 440,000 people in the rural areas of the priority districts of suspected cholera/AWD affected locations. 
  • UNICEF mobilised and deployed nearly 750 Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) to respond to suspected cholera/AWD cases to reaching over 9 million people in 2018, in 259 districts of 21 governorates.  Through this intervention and the quick impact projects such as desludging, quick fix of damaged water and sewage pipe networks, water quality monitoring, cleaning campaigns and community engagement, the number of cholera cases have declined significantly in all the affected districts.
  • In 2019, UNICEF WASH programme will support the rehabilitation and sustainability of local water management systems to increase access to safe water. A total of 3.5 million people in AWD/cholera affected areas will be provided with household-level water treatment and disinfection. Similarly, on preventive front, rehabilitation of sanitation facilities and its scaled-up in rural as well peri-urban areas remain as key area of focus for addressing key risks.
Link to video on it's hosted site.
UNICEF Yemen/2019
WASH success story in Sa'ada.