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From awareness to action: creating durable change for vulnerable communities

Two young girls fetching water form a tap with Jerrycans

Young girls filling their cans in IDP camp in Dar Saad

Young girls filling their cans in IDP camp in Dar Saad

In Yemen, an estimated 15.4 million people, including over 3.4 million women and 8.4 million children, require support to meet their basic water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) needs.More than 50% of them are in acute need. More than six years of relentless conflict have seriously damaged the country’s aging water and sanitation system infrastructure. Added to that, it is worth noting that Yemen is facing a crisis on multiple fronts: looming famine, economic crisis, and  outbreaks of diseases such as dengue, acute diarrhea, cholera and COVID-19.

“Hardly a week goes by without one of my children having to suffer from severe diarrhea as a result of using contaminated water that we collect from exposed wells,” says Ali Hobbit Mohamed, a 28-year-old father of five children.  Ali used to work as a shepherd. He lived happily with his children in a traditional Yemeni house in Al Hodeidah governorate. But the intensified fighting in his hometown led him to flee to an IDP camp in Dar Saad, a district of Aden governorate, where the family sought refuge.

Having been forced to flee their homes, Internally Displaced People (IDPs) are exposed to a range of challenges and risks. They suddenly find themselves without shelter, food, water, and other basic needs. IDP camps have no water networks whatsoever. This situation leads IDP families to rely on private water trucking, meaning they have to fill their cans themselves.  “What worries me most is the presence of swamps near water points,” says Salah Abdulrahman, a resident in the camp.

A man holding a plastic container with red and pink liquids
Ali checking the water quality

Some of the highest levels of vulnerability are concentrated in displacement sites with very few services are available. Nearly 4 million Yemenis were forced to flee their homes in the last few years.  1 million IDP live in 1,589 verified sites across the country, often lacking access to clean water, sanitation services and basic medical needs. The threat of cholera and COVID-19 looms high in IDP camps. With no clean water and poor hygiene practices, acute, communicable and chronic diseases run rampant among IDPs.

To facilitate sustainable access to safe and adequate water supply and sanitation services in conflict-affected communities, CARE, scaled up a WASH intervention programme, focusing on the most concentrated areas of IDPs and host communities. 48,000 People benefited from hygiene kits distribution, and 54,081 people participated in hygiene promotion sessions.

Ali received a CARE training session on best hygiene practices: handwashing, food and water hygiene and proper use of latrines. Ali then became a community volunteer, transmitting his knowledge to other displaced families in the camp.

“During the training, I learned a lot about hygiene and environmental sanitation,” he says. “And after I finished the training, I worked hard to transfer what I learned to others and correct the dangerous hygiene practices in place in the camp.”

Ali was determined to find sustainable solutions to protect the displaced people from the spread of waterborne diseases. “The most important thing that I learned is the importance of analyzing water quality before using it,” he says. “I was able to get a simple device for analyzing water quality, and now I take responsibility for checking water quality and cleaning the water tanks in the camp. The respect and appreciation I get from my people give me the power to voluntarily do this work,” he concludes.

A man holding a black plastic bag
Students of Abu Harba School cleaning their school

Children are the most affected. 20% of schools in Yemen are no longer operational. They have been either destroyed by the conflict or are being used as emergency shelters for IDPs. This means that conducting hygiene awareness sessions has become a challenge in some schools and many children cannot be reached.

As part of the project, CARE conducted several hygiene promotion sessions in Abu Harba school in Al Buraiqeh, a district of Aden governorate. These sessions aimed at educating students and school staff members about best practices for personal safety and school cleanness. CARE also provided the participants with hygiene kits and trash barrels to help the students maintain a clean learning environment.

A woman wearing a black headscarf standing beside a garbage bin.
Principal Ilham is proud of the change her students are making to keep the school clean

“Both students and teachers used to suffer from the garbage scattered everywhere inside the school,” says Ilham Abdulrab, principal of Abu Harba School. “But things have changed now: students are implementing what they learnt and they are using  hygiene tools that CARE provided. Our students were able to improve the school. They now organize themselves and carry out regular hygienic campaigns to clean the schoolyard, classrooms and bathrooms. Even more interestingly, they convey what they learned to their families and friends.”

“Thanks to USAID and CARE,” she says, “our school is cleaner, and our students are keen to protect their health and learn in a safe environment,” she concludes.


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