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Paved Roads Save Lives in Hajjah, Yemen

A group of men on stone path

Local participants are learning how to pave roads on the job in Bani Jaber village. Photo: Ibrahim Abood/CARE

Local participants are learning how to pave roads on the job in Bani Jaber village. Photo: Ibrahim Abood/CARE

Local residents of Bani Jaber village in Hajjah Governorate which is located in north-western Yemen’s Kuhlan Ash sharaf district, have, for years, been suffering from difficulties in moving from one area to another one. Life in such remote villages is extremely harsh. The roads are dangerous and it takes hours and great effort to reach the nearest markets and health centres.

Roads make a crucial contribution to economic development and growth and bring important social benefits. They are of vital importance to make a nation grow and develop as well as to keep connected. In addition, providing access to employment, society, health and education services makes road networks critical in fighting against poverty. Roads open up more areas and stimulate economic and social development. Therefore, road infrastructure is considered to be one of the most important public assets in any context.

In Yemen, civilian infrastructure such as roads and markets continue to be affected since the beginning of the war. Due to the rugged roads and the difficult movement of people in Bani Jaber, locals took the initiative to pave the local road, but could not continue and complete because of the high prices of the materials and the challenge of bringing the needed material to the village.

And yet, the roads were so unsafe that drivers from other districts would refuse to come to the village to help take a patient or a pregnant woman to the nearest hospital, regardless how much money they were offered.

“The mountainous roads are very rugged and people were afraid of using vehicles along the roads,” says Mohammed Jaber, one of the locals of Bani Jaber. For many years, locals had no choice but to transport food and essential items by donkey, on their own backs, or by motorbike if possible.

A man and a woman standing on a dirt road having a conversation
Mohammed, one of the locals, explains the suffering of Bani Jaber residents. Photo: Ibrahim Abood/CARE

Animals were the best means of transport for people and goods, while women in particular had to carry flour and water on their heads. Patients were carried in blankets to the main road and pregnant women resorted to traditional methods when delivering their babies rather than going to a health centre, thus raising risks during childbirth. The villagers’ dream was to have safe, paved roads.

As a result of years of conflict, many people of Yemen have lost their sources of income and agriculture, a main source of livelihoods for many Yemenis, has also been impacted.  Some farmers resorted to finding labour opportunities in other governorates or villages to secure an income, sending remittances back to their families. However, at the same time they have lacked the needed skills to perform a particular job such as construction or paving.

In response to their wishes, CARE intervened with a Cash for Work (CFW) project. In the coming months, CARE plans to pave 3,700 metres of the village roads, benefiting 132 households. Six skilled workers are hired to train the locals on carving rocks and paving skills which will also create temporary employment for the poorest households.

Locals and unemployed people are benefiting from this project which has created not only employment, but has also taught them life skills to help them secure further income. “The work is being carried out and locals are participating happily and enthusiastically,” Mohammed states.  “People’s suffering is fading gradually and locals hope that their challenges of moving in and out of the village is coming to an end.”

Locals of Bani Jaber village hope that CARE continues its projects in the village because they believe that roads are lifelines for thousands of inhabitants in the area. Without paved roads, many lives will continue to be lost and accidents rates will increase.

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