Gabions Protect Farmlands and Transform Farmers' Lives

Agriculture is the primary economic activity for the residents of Yemen’s Lahj Governorate. Years of conflict and neglect led to the collapse of the irrigation canal system in the governorate. Despite significant efforts by farmers to protect their farms and improve their standard of living, their efforts remain inadequate due to their limited capacities.

Mohammed Ali is a farmer from Lahj Governorate. Like the rest of the farmers in his area, Mohammed struggled to make a living from his farm. He relied on a fuel-powered pump system to irrigate his farmland from groundwater.

"My farm was in a dire state. The floodwaters had caused the walls to collapse, and the soil was rapidly eroding," says Mohammed. "These conditions made it extremely difficult for me to cultivate crops and support my family."

Due to price instability and water shortages, many farmers are abandoning their farms in search of alternative livelihoods. Moreover, farmers could not benefit from rainwater, which was often wasted due to lack of a proper drainage infrastructure. This has led to degradation of farmlands, affecting farmers' incomes and food security. If properly managed, rainwater and floodwater can be used to irrigate farms and recharge groundwater.

Gabion project in Lahj Governorate. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE.

With funding from the European Union (EU) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the World Food Programme (WFP) and CARE have partnered to strengthen the resilience and self-reliance of rural communities in Lahj and Abyan Governorates. Using the Food Assistance for Assets (FFA) modality, the project supports the rehabilitation of key community assets, such as irrigation systems and gabions, and provides short-term employment opportunities for the most vulnerable and food insecure households.

Farmers pump water to their farms from the canal near the gabion. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE.

The construction of a 45-cubic-meter gabion with eight canals in Hubail area of Lahj Governorate provided temporary employment for nearly 80 residents. The gabion and the canals direct floodwater closer to farmland and help farmers irrigate their lands. In addition, the gabion has a positive environmental impact by reducing soil erosion and improving groundwater conservation. These long-term impacts strengthen the communities' resilience to climate change and other water-related shocks.

"Building the gabion provided employment opportunities for me and many others in my village," says Mohammed. "We earned much-needed income and gained valuable construction skills. We used our wages to buy food and other necessities for our families."

"Thanks to the gabion, over 500 acres of agricultural land in the Habil area have benefited from floodwater. After more than eight years of drought, we now have water close to our farms. I plan to grow different crops this season and hope to make a good profit," Mohammed concludes.

The gabion and the canals direct floodwater closer to farmland and help farmers irrigate their lands. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE.


Main photo: Mohammed Ali, a farmer from Lahj Governorate, points to the newly constructed gabion. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE.

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