Yemen emergency: Finding water amidst the conflict

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CARE
Women and girls in Amran City gather at a water tank provided by CARE

Nearly a year of intense conflict and bombing has destroyed water pipes, storage tanks and water pumping facilities across Yemen, making it even harder for ordinary people to get enough water each day. According to the United Nations, nearly 20 million of Yemen’s people are now in need of water and sanitation assistance.

CARE is rehabilitating water sources and providing water tanks so women and children do not have to travel long distances to collect water. CARE is also providing hygiene kits and hygiene promotion. These pictures are from Amran, a region just north of the capital Sana’a which has seen fierce fighting during the conflict.

Women carrying water through Amran town

Above: Women walk along a street strewn with rubble from bombing, carrying water collected from a water tank provided by CARE.

Boys on donkeys carrying water

Yemeni children returning home after they have refilled their jerry cans with water. As this photo was taken, there was a sudden burst of explosions. One of the boys yelled:

You hear the bombs now, it’s a huge bomb! Where are you going? Let’s stick together!

A woman pushes a child and a water can in a wheelbarrow

“Trips to the fountain always involve bringing my young child, because I have no one to watch over him. My husband is ill and my family left Amran in fear of the heavy bombing,” said Khadija as she wheeled her water and child home.

A woman with jerry cans for collecting water

“Having access to clean water has made life much easier. Before I would walk for hours in search of water,” said Khadija (above).

A woman and girl riding on donkeys

We have always been discriminated against and it’s rare for people to help us, but this fountain has been such a huge help.

“Our donkeys must be even happier that they no longer have to travel long distances for us to collect water,” said Om Saad (above right).

Women with jerry cans and buckets for collecting water

A woman rests and others clean their buckets before they do another trip to collect water from the public water tap provided by CARE. Om Sharaf told us:

It was a happy moment when CARE set up the water tap. I used to struggle to find water to cook.

“However, making several trips to collect water is also tiring. I dream of the day when the water streams from a tap in my house.”

A young girl carrying a jerry can

A young girl carries a jerry can. This girl and dozens of others line up to collect water instead of being in school. Since the conflict erupted, families in this community have had limited access to clean water. This girl told us:

I come every morning to collect water with my family. I carry my jerry can half way, but then I get really tired.

Girls collecting water from a CARE water tank

Above: Girls fill their jerry cans with water from a tank provided by CARE.

A woman fills a jerry can with water

“I had no one to provide for my children after my husband’s death. But this water project from CARE has allowed me to grow radishes and sell them. But now with the war, I only sell on very rare occasions,” said Om Taher (above).

The bombs don’t stop. People run away to other villages and God only knows what happens to them.

What CARE is doing

Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world. Since 2006, Yemen has ranked as the lowest country in the world for gender equality, and over 60% of the population was already in need of humanitarian assistance before this conflict. Since the violence erupted in March 2015, the humanitarian needs have escalated at an alarming rate. CARE’s emergency response is focused on providing life-saving food, livelihoods, water and sanitation assistance to the most vulnerable displaced people, especially women and girls.

Information added 12 February 2016:

Even before the conflict started, collecting water was a risky business. Most water points in the area consist of little more than open wells. As Bushra Aldukhainah, CARE Yemen’s Humanitarian Programme Manager, says:

“There were so many stories of young children falling into wells, when you watch them in the act of trying to get water from these open wells, it’s absolutely terrifying. Now, the new terror on top of this, is the planes above and bombs falling. As CARE we can’t stop the bombing but we can make sure people don’t have to travel so far for water, use open wells, or wait so long outside.”

In order to enable people to stop walking such long distances and to provide safer, cleaner water sources, CARE has rehabilitated 12 water systems in the area and built a stone water tank. With this system, water is available 24 hours a day – pumped up from the ground through a solar system and dispersed through hose taps.

Yemen’s water crisis is clearly and alarmingly expressed in numbers: 80 percent of Yemenis are struggling to find enough water to survive each day, eight out of ten people wonder if they will find safe drinking water or adequate sanitation.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.