Al-hawtah, a central city of Lahj governorate, is a resolute witness to horrors and sufferings caused by an eight year long internal conflict in Yemen. Around sixty thousand individuals comprising of a mix of internally displaced people and host communities has long faced acute shortages of water for drinking and daily use. International humanitarian community contributed to addressing the shortages by providing key Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) infrastructure such as boreholes and water networks, but despite of all these efforts, the people continued to suffer because these infrastructures required power to operate, which was only available for 3-6 hours a day to the central water reservoir and pumping station.
“Our neighbourhood, Harat AL- Awalq, received water once every 10 days” says 62-year-old community member Hashem Saleh, who looks-after local water-distribution network. “Most families send their children to fetch water from wells, and they spend many hours waiting in queues and walking long distances carrying water,” he adds.
Equipment and training for the local water company
The People in Need (PIN) diligent water engineers decided to address the root cause of the problem instead of providing a temporary solution. With funds from Alliance2015 partner, Welthungerhilfe and the People in Need’s Club of Friends, PIN rehabilitated three out of service water boreholes to increase the supply of water for residents of Al-hawtah and equipped the central resorvior in Dendar with 64 solar panels to provide 32KW of clean energy.
A dual control panel and an inverter were also installed to maintain the 24/7 functionality of water pumps. Through these series of interventions, 59,850 individuals including over 10,000 vulnerable displaced persons, living in Al Hawtah and surrounding areas of Lahj enjoy a sustainable access to water for their daily needs.
“A majority of our beneficiaries indicated a significant improvement in their access to water. Previously, they received water only once every 7 to 10 days, but now they receive water on daily basis. These carefully designed project brought a big change in lives of many. The money and time resources they used for buying and fetching the water can be used instead on food and education of their children” says Eng. Abdulrahman Abdo from People in Need.
Supporting people towards a better life
Water is a basic necessity for life but that is just one of the problems. According to Hashem Saleh, the conflict has pushed the already poor people in abyss of poverty. They do not have means to earn and feed their families.
“Most people don’t have jobs or stable income resources. Their subsistence come from occasional temporary labor. Many families wish to have decent jobs, better living conditions, and decent quality education for their children, But unfortunately, due to poverty and war, they must keep running after the basic necessities of life.”
The protracted crises in Yemen requires a mix of life-saving interventions and durable solutions to alleviate the widescale human suffering. Every 2 persons in 3, depend on humanitarian aid to survive for basic food security, water and sanitation and seeking very basic health services.
Hashem Saleh realizes that such a vast scale needs can only be met when people and communities get together to make a difference.
“People are tired of the ongoing war; it’s been around eight years, and things kept on deteriorating. Now, people are getting more aware that they need to empower themselves and make the change on their own, I believe that with the support of humanitarian organisations and raising awareness, people will take charge of their lives”.
Author: Marwah Saleh, PIN Yemen