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Fighting cholera through durable sanitation solutions

A man carrying a baby

Mohammed with his son

Mohammed with his son

Nearly six years of conflict in Yemen have devastated the infrastructure of the country and created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The disruption of water, sanitation and health services, as well as large-scale displacement, has contributed to the spread of deadly diseases like cholera, malaria and COVID-19, making Yemeni people even more vulnerable.

In the last few years, Yemen experienced the world’s worst cholera outbreak in modern history, with more than 1.2 million reported cases in two years. The country’s deteriorating health system was unable to treat patients adequately, and poorly maintained water and sanitation infrastructure contributed to the spread of the outbreak.

In Ash Shaikh Othman district of Aden’s governorate in the south of Yemen, the irregular provision of water and sanitation services heightened the spread of waterborne diseases, with the district recording very high mortality rates during the cholera outbreak.

Two construction workers wearing yellow helmets working in a trench
Construction work to install the new sewage network

“In my area, not only do the residents suffer from poverty and war, but they also endure diseases with no adequate health care,” says Mohammed, a father of three children from Al-Bdal qawi area of Aden. “Years have passed, and we still suffer from the sewage swamps surrounding our homes.”

Aggravated by the lack of clean water as well as poor sanitation services and malnutrition, diarrhoea is one of the most common causes of child morbidity and mortality in Yemen. “Hardly a week goes by without one of my children suffering from severe diarrhoea,” says Mohammed. Like the majority of Al-Bdal qawi area inhabitants, Mohammed’s family depends on unsafe water sources for drinking, cooking and washing.

A dirty area with cars and garbage
Before installing the new sewage system

In response to the increasing needs, with funding from the Crisis and Support Centre, CARE scaled up its emergency water, sanitation and hygiene response to contain acute watery diarrhoea and cholera spread in Ash Shaikh-Othman district. The response benefited 2222 households by installing a 330 metre-long sewage network and constructing 16 manholes.

A dirt road with cars and buildings in the background
Clean the neighbourhood after installing the new sewage system

“One month before CARE’s intervention, sewage water used to flood our house,” says Mohammed. “Thanks to the new sewage system, sewage swamps in our neighbourhood were removed, and cholera cases have been reduced as a result. I couldn’t be happier. Now, my three children can play and live safely without contracting cholera again.”

This intervention was also highly appreciated by the residents and local authorities in Shaikh Othman district. One local authority member states: “Together with our partners, we managed to reach a low level of cases, which is a big achievement compared to other regions.”


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