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A paved road opens up possibilities for thousands in Lahj districts

A man in a white helmet and a boy standing and smiling

Abdul Muttalib Chotri with his son posing near the paved road, Al-Madarbah district, Lahj, Yemen. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

Abdul Muttalib Chotri with his son posing near the paved road, Al-Madarbah district, Lahj, Yemen. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

Yemen continues to be mired in one of the world’s worst humanitarian and development crises due to a conflict that has been ongoing since 2015. This conflict has not only brought tragic loss of life but is also having devastating impact on livelihoods and the social fabric, causing at least five million Yemenis to teeter on the brink of famine. Millions of Yemenis continue to suffer from the conflict, trapped in poverty and with little possibility for jobs and livelihoods, resulting in widespread reversals of development progress that had been achieved prior to the outbreak of the conflict.

Abdul Muttalib, a 51-year-old father of five children, is from Al-Madarbah district, one of the hardest-hit districts in Lahj Governorate, known for its grinding poverty and scarcity of services and clean water. In Shabo area within this district, hundreds of families have been struggling to reach service facilities and markets, access to which could take two hours to reach on foot, cutting across long mountainous and treacherous roads. Even donkeys accustomed to hard journeys cannot endure more than a year of going back and forth every day while carrying jerry cans of water and food products back to the village.

“The only road connecting our remote village has been unpaved and harmful to our safety.  Every time I drive, I’ve been afraid of falling from the top of the mountain. Besides, transportation is expensive which we can’t afford,” says Abdul Muttalib Chotri.

Through interaction with the community, it is clear that the difficulty of the rough roads and the lack of job opportunities are two main common problems that residents of Mudaraba district have been worrying about.

“With difficult access and unpaved roads, it was tragic that women and children in this district had many accidents on the road while fetching water or going to schools and health facilities,” says Mutee Abdo Muhammad, 49, a local resident. “The cost of transporting goods from the market to this area is rather expensive, so the goods were transported either on our shoulders or on the backs of donkeys.”

A group of men in white Helmets working on a road full of stones
Abdul Muttalib with the other Cash-for-Work participants working on paving the road to their village, Al Mudaraba District, Lahj, Yemen. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

However, that has now changed. As part of a two-year project funded by the European Union in partnership with five relief agencies, CARE has worked with the communities, providing Cash-for-Work to pave roads which connect 15 villages to each other, to address the challenges faced in the district. Efforts have focused on leveling and paving using building stones for wall protection and channels to protect the roads from flooding, particularly during rainy seasons. Paving 100 meters of road has eased movement of vehicles as well as facilitated pedestrian access and has made the passage significantly safer for nearly 23,000 people.


Two men with white helmets standing in a place full of stones
Abdul Muttalib transports stones from his father's old house for use in paving the road, Al Mudaraba District, Lahj, Yemen. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

“Rehabilitation of the village road means a lot to our community; it has improved movements in our daily life. There is no more mud and potholes, and our children arrive to the school without mud stains,” Abdul Muttalib adds. “I was overjoyed to be selected as a cash-for-work beneficiary. When I first got the cash assistance, four payments of $90 per month, I bought food commodities, a tandoor (traditional oven in Arabic) for my family and school supplies for my children.”

a group of men working on a construction site
Abdul Muttalib with the other local participants working on paving the road, Al Mudaraba District, Lahj, Yemen. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

The community collectively advocated for their needs as the project progressed. As a result,  the distance and length of the paved road was doubled and made wider than what had originally been planned under this project. This was made possible because the villagers voluntarily worked to open and widen stretches of the road that were not covered by the project and Abdul Muttalib Chotri helped make this expansion possible by contributing stones from his father’s old house which is located very close to the road construction site. Thus, a house which lay unused and uninhabited became a valuable source for a better road for Abdul Muttalib’s community. With this expansion, the length of the paved road is 360 meters, up from the 100 meters that was originally planned.

a man standing in front of a building
Abdul Muttalib near the poultry house project he launched after learning about VSAL approach. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

Abdul Muttalib and his friends then set up a savings group after learning about the concept of Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) from one of the CARE field officers visiting his community. “The project was the beginning of a positive change in our lives. Through our contribution in the project as daily workers and what we earned from it, we were able to save an amount of money monthly and were able to establish a poultry farm after buying a number of poultries and renting a poultry house. We renovated it, and now we sell the products to the village residents and we are looking forward to expanding this business and reaching the local market through our new road,” says Abdul Muttalib.

CARE works to help people meet their basic needs, strengthen rural resilience, improve access to services, enhance skills for vulnerable communities, and lead them to recovery and sustainability and self-reliance.

A newly constructed road
The paved road eases life for thousands in Al-Heama Area, Al Mudaraba District, Lahj, Yemen Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE
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