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Photo story: Making a difference in farmers’ lives

A field of grass with mountains in the background

Yemen’s Abyan Delta

Yemen’s Abyan Delta

For more than six years, the armed conflict in Yemen continues to exacerbate the levels of poverty and food insecurity across the country. 80% of Yemenis live below the poverty line, and 66% of the population require some form of humanitarian aid to meet their basic needs. Two out of nearly eight million people living in the southern parts of the country are estimated to be severely food insecure. Prolonged conflict, as well as high food prices, depreciation of the local currency and disrupted public institutions, including the agricultural sector, are the major drivers of acute food insecurity.

Yemen’s Abyan Delta

Abyan Delta is one of the most fertile agricultural lands in the southern part of the country and was once known for its excellent crops. The main livelihoods activities in Abyan are agriculture, fisheries, livestock breeding and beekeeping. Nearly half of the residents in Abyan depend on agriculture as the main source of income. Yet the conflict, together with the economic recession, have limited their access to seeds and cultivation supplies. Moreover, price instability and fuel shortages continue to impact seed quality and the availability of much-needed services such as water, transportation and electricity. Over time, many farmers abandon their farms in pursuit of alternate livelihoods.

The prolonged conflict in Yemen has taken a heavy toll on agriculture

A man with a yellow helmet

Abdullah Haidara is a 48-year-old farmer from Al-Darjaj village in Abyan. “The irrigation network in the Abyan delta has been suffering from severe neglect for years,” he says. “There was no maintenance or upgrading for these facilities since they were established. What saddens me most is when the flood season comes and we see the floodwater goes to the sea and our dry farms can’t benefit from it.”

A map of a desert

Climate change in recent years has decreased rainfall and weakened the soil. This has led to farmland degradation, which affects farmers’ income and food security. If managed properly, floodwater can be used to irrigate grazing areas and recharge groundwater.

A stone wall with a pile of rocks and a wheelbarrow

Through the Enhanced Rural Resilience in Yemen (ERRY) joint programme,  funded by European Union and SIDA, CARE work to enhance the resilience and self-reliance of crisis-affected rural communities in Lahj and Abyan governorates. The project supports the rehabilitation of key community assets, such as irrigation systems, gabions, roads and schools, and provides short-term employment opportunities to the most vulnerable and food-insecure households.

a group of construction workers with yellow vests and yellow helmets

Thanks to the ERRY project, Abdullah and 500 villagers constructed a much-needed gabion in the Ras Wadi Hassan area. Abdullah and his mates earned the sum of  $90 per month for six months, which allowed them to provide food and other essentials for their family.

“The newly-constructed gabion directs the flow of torrents into our farms,” says Abdullah. “As irrigation water became available, many farmers returned to cultivating their lands this season.”

Abdullah was able to build additional rooms in his small house, buy a solar system to pump water into the house and pay for his children’s food, healthcare and education. “I hadn’t had a job in years, and I was very depressed,” says Abdullah. “Thanks to CARE, I’m now able to provide for my family. I also plan to expand my farm and grow new profitable corps.”

A man standing in a green field with tall grass

Saleh Amshaq, a 48-year-old farmer who worked in gabion construction, says: “Due to a lack of rain and floodwater, which recharge groundwater, the only well in our village dried up. This rain season, the gabion directed the floodwater to our lands, and a few days later, the whole village was surprised to find the well filled with water.”

Beaming with pride and dignity, Saleh adds: “I don’t have a perfect life, but I certainly have a better one now. Many things have improved in our lives since we built the gabion. I can now work on my farm and provide food for my children.”

Creating a durable impact

Two maps of a desert

Wadi Hassan’s gabion managed to organize the flow of torrents to benefit more than eight thousand acres of agricultural land that had not been irrigated for more than ten years. The gabion reserves a large amount of floodwater and directs it to the farms of the Abyan delta instead of flowing into the sea. This has increased the groundwater in the Abyan delta and reduced the salinity of the land.

According to the Agriculture and Irrigation office in Abyan, the gabion will direct the flowing torrent from Hassan valley to Al-Khor canals, irrigating thousands of acres of agricultural land in Berbera, Al-Aslah, Al-Tariya and Sheikh Salem areas.

A group of men sitting in a circle

CARE team conducted several field visits to measure the impact of gabion construction on agriculture in Abyan. According to the discussion with targeted communities in Abyan, the gabion has positively contributed to:

  • Increasing the irrigated farms and improving irrigation efficiency.
  • Improving crops production.
  • Enhancing employment in the region through providing temporary employment opportunities, which reduces rural migration.
  • Increasing livestock in the region.
  • Reducing dependence on groundwater for irrigation.
  • Increasing the recharge of groundwater and improving its quality.
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