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Eliminating the after-effects of the floods

A man standing on a wracked window

A beneficiary receives cash aid through a money transfer agent

A beneficiary receives cash aid through a money transfer agent

Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with 80% of the population – 24.3 million people – in need of assistance, more than half of whom are women and girls.

As if this wasn’t enough for Yemenis, in April 2020 many areas, including the capital Sana’a, were hit by devastating heavy rains and flash floods. In eastern parts of Sana’a many families lost their houses and land. The natural disaster forced many people to leave their homes and look for safer places – some of these people had already been internally displaced by the conflict.

Fathi Al-Jabri is one of the residents of Sanhan district, Sana’a governorate. “One day,” he says, “the sky became grey and overcast in the afternoon. This was normal as it was rainy season and people expect rains during that time of the year.” He describes that terrifying day: “It was about six o’clock when the sky began to pour with rain and hails. Suddenly, we heard gunshots from a distance. Here, It’s common to shoot bullets into the air as a warning from potential danger, particularly floods.

Three men clearing garbage
The cleaning team removes rubbish from the street using a garbage truck

“I immediately went to the roof to check what was going on,” he continues. “Many residents were also on the roofs of their houses. Using megaphones to amplify their voices, people shouted warnings to evacuate basements and first floors because floodwater was about to enter the neighbourhood.”

Fathi is a tenant in a five- floor building with a yard where water tanks stand to supply the apartments with clean water. “I saw the floodwater coming from the back gate of the yard, damaging the water tanks and leaving the yard to the neighbouring buildings,” he says.

Neighbours were battering on the door of Fathi’s building to help them escape the flood and save their lives. The next morning, inhabitants noticed the destruction of the neighbourhood and their possessions.

“One of the residents was a labourer,” says Fathi, recalling what happened that day. “He was responsible for paying the daily wages to his co-workers. He lost all the money he was going to use to pay his co-workers the next day. Now he is in huge debt.”

Three men walking on a dirt road
CARE’s team conducts a verification visit to the flood-affected areas

Residents of the district were deprived of water for weeks after the disaster. They also lost precious food supplies. The narrow streets of the affected areas were flooded with muddy water. Residents placed wooden boards and stones to enable them to cross the streets. There were no proper or well-prepared waste disposal sites, so locals were throwing garbage into the open. As a consequence, waste accumulated and a large amount of rubbish was mixed with rainwater which compromised public health and increased the threat of a cholera outbreak in the area.

With funding from START Fund, CARE intervened by providing lifesaving cash for one month so affected families could meet their basic and urgent needs like food and medicine. The CARE team also conducted a cleaning campaign and distributed hygiene kits to prevent the spread of COVID-19, cholera and other diseases which spread so easily when hygiene facilities and clean water are difficult to come by.

Residents received cash gratefully and groups of workers were teamed up to clean the streets. Tons of accumulated waste and rubble were removed using bulldozers and garbage trucks, which resulted in cleaner streets and helped to reduce people’s exposure to diseases.

“Thanks to CARE,” says Fathi. “we can buy daily necessities and the streets and the neighbourhood are clean now. We hope that rubbish barrels are provided to the neighbourhood, so residents stop throwing the garbage into the streets again.”

A group of people in a room with buckets
CARE’s team checks hygiene kits before distributing them to flood-affected households
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