The humanitarian situation in Yemen remains critical, with the decline of the economy exacerbating the quality and coverage of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services.
Posted on 23 Jul 2023
Damaged infrastructure and limited development has left 15.4 million people in need of WASH assistance in 2023. Lack of access to safe water has forced vulnerable households to rely on unsafe water sources.
In Al Hawta and Tuban districts in Lahj governorate, Yemen, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) with European Union Humanitarian Aid has successfully addressed the water access challenges by harnessing solar power.
Water Access Challenges and Power Outages:
The primary source of water in Al Hawta and Tuban districts in Lahj governorate has been groundwater, obtained through wells and extracted manually or with the use of electrical or diesel-powered pumps. However, some of these water sources got damaged, as the community faced difficulties maintaining the pumps due to the costs associated with powering the pumps.
According to Ehab Hussain, a 31-year-old resident of Al Hawta:
"Due to continuous power outages, we experienced low water pressure, making it difficult for us to access sufficient water. Regrettably, these power outages also disrupted the water supply, leaving some people with no choice but to purchase water. This was particularly challenging as the cost of buying water, which amounted to around 10,000 Yemeni riyals [18 dollars] per 1,000 litres, was unaffordable for many of us."
The situation was particularly dire in Al Husseini camp, located in Tuban, Lahj governorate, which accommodates 70 households comprising internally displaced persons (IDPs) and marginalized individuals. The camp's residents relied on a benefactor who owned a farm and provided water to the IDP water points through pumps.
However, if the benefactor lacked diesel, the water supply for the entire camp was disrupted. Consequently, the displaced individuals suffered from severe water scarcity, forcing women to undertake long journeys under harsh temperatures to fetch water. They often carried heavy loads on their heads or relied on donkeys for transporting water.
"When women go to fetch water, we only get one-quarter of the water supply that we often get from the benefactor's pumps."
/ Mohammed Hassan, a displaced person residing in Al Husseini camp
Displaced women carrying after accessing water from the water point in Al Husseini camp, Tuban district, Lahj governorate.
Abdullah Al Keldy
The Intervention: Solar-Powered Pumping System:
With the support of the European Union Humanitarian Aid, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) installed a solar-powered pumping system in the three sites managed by DRC in Tuban and Al Hawta districts. This intervention aimed to provide a reliable water supply for individuals like Ehab and Mohammed.
Furthermore, DRC’s WASH team conducted comprehensive training sessions for a water committee on the operation and maintenance of the water system. As part of their exit strategy, DRC also equipped the committee with a maintenance kit, ensuring the project's long-term sustainability.
Transformation and Community Testimony:
According to Mohammed:
"The solar-powered water point has alleviated the suffering of the displaced persons by enabling frequent access to water. An additional water point has been established, significantly increasing the availability of water in the camp."
In Al Hawta, the solar system was constructed adjacent to a well inside a girls' school.
To prioritize the safety and privacy of the students, DRC extended support to the local citizens by providing materials such as cement and stone. With this assistance, the community constructed a protective wall around the solar system and the school bathrooms overlooking it.
This measure not only preserved student safety and privacy but also ensured convenient access to the solar system for the local community.
"The installation of the solar-powered water system has positively impacted the entire community, enhancing water access not only in homes but also in schools and mosques. The community has been eagerly anticipating the installation of the solar system to address the long-standing electricity problem that limited water supply."
/ Ehab Hussain, a 31-year-old resident of Al Hawta
By installing the solar-powered water pumping system, the Danish Refugee Council, in collaboration with the European Union Humanitarian Aid, has successfully addressed the water access challenges faced by communities in Al Hawta and Tuban, Yemen.
This intervention has not only provided a reliable and sustainable water supply but has also improved the overall well-being and livelihoods of the affected population.