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Enhancing conflict-affected communities’ resilience

A man holding a small boy

Anees Mohammed Nasser and his son standing near the health Centre

Anees Mohammed Nasser and his son standing near the health Centre

Yemen has one of the world’s highest rates of maternal mortality. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), one woman and six newborns die every two hours in Yemen due to complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Even before the spread of COVID-19, nearly half of all health facilities across the country were still functioning. Only 20 percent of the functioning health facilities provide maternal and child health services. Moreover, 2.1 million Yemeni children and 1.2 million pregnant and lactating mothers suffer from either moderate or severe malnutrition.

Anees Mohammed Nasser, 42 years old, is a passionate man who radiates enthusiasm and positivity. He works as a school principal in Al Maqatirah district of Lahj governorate.

I still remember that day as if it happened yesterday,” says Anees with a sad sigh. “Four months ago, a beautiful pregnant mother from Barkan village of Al-Maqatara district was placed in a blanket and carried by the villagers to the nearest health centre, which is fifteen kilometres away from the village. The road was unpaved and rugged and I recall that day the road was blocked due to floods. The woman suffered from both the complications and the road. Halfway there, she gave birth to her baby, only a couple of hours before reaching the health centre. Without proper healthcare, she suffered a postpartum hemorrhage – heavy bleeding after giving birth. Tragically, both the mother and her baby died a few minutes after arriving at the health centre.

White building with a view of beatiful mountains behind it
The health centre after rehabilitation

We often have three women giving birth at the same time,” explains Dr. Abdel Fattah, manager of the health centre. “Only one woman could use the bed and the other two would give birth on the floor because we only had one old bed in the delivery room. We used candles, torches and flashlights during the obstetric operations due to frequent power cuts.

Luckily for Anees and other residents in his village, in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP) CARE implemented a project focused on strengthening vulnerable households’ access to equitable social safety nets and basic services. The project, which was co-funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), targeted nine districts to mitigate the economic effects of the ongoing conflict. Economic empowerment and protecting the most vulnerable and food-insecure families were at the heart of the project. CARE provided short-term employment opportunities such as reconstructing and rehabilitating key community assets.

I worked in the cash-for-work project rebuilding the health centre in my village,” says Anees. “I received a $90 monthly wage for six months. Now I see many changes in my life as well as in my community. Paving roads as well as providing ambulances and training midwives can decrease maternal mortality and save mothers’ and babies’ lives. For me, with the money I received I bought food for my children, which makes me happy and proud.

The project also helped to restore confidence between local communities and the Ministry of Health through involving communities in planning and responding to health needs and engaging them in discussions about health policy.

CARE supported the coordination between the Ministry of Health and the local authorities in Lahj to run the health centre,” Anees concludes. “We hope to develop a coherent, responsive, and proactive communications system that links the Ministry of Health to all the regions in Al Maqatirah district.


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