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Repairing sewage networks in Taiz: An urgent matter of community health

A woman wearing a head scarf

54-years-old Fatoom is a mother to ten sons

54-years-old Fatoom is a mother to ten sons

More than six years of relentless conflict in Yemen have seriously damaged the country’s aging water and sanitation system infrastructure. An estimated 15.4 million Yemeni 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. In addition to the significant population displacement and increasing poverty, families are forced to resort to negative coping mechanisms, such as open defecation. In the past few years, deadly waterborne diseases like cholera claimed hundreds of lives.

Sewage water is known as ‘the black water’ in a sanitation context; it contains bacteria, parasites and viruses and exposes people to killer diseases such as cholera, dengue, malaria and diphtheria. Sanitation and wastewater treatment services in Yemen are overwhelmed and disrupted. WASH remains a major public health risk and driver of disease and malnutrition.  Only 53 percent of the population in Yemen have access to improved sanitation. Moreover, people in rural areas are less likely to use improved sanitation facilities – 56% compared to 79% in urban zones.

A man walking in a littered area
Wastewater used to fill the street in Sena area before repairing sewage system

54-years-old Fatoom, a mother to ten children, lives with her husband, sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren in a humble house in Sena, a sub-district of Taiz governorate. Sena residents have been suffering from a lack of sewage and wastewater that filled the streets.  “When people passed by my neighborhood for a few minutes, they used to close their eyes and hold their breath,” says Fatoom. “Only the poor families who spent their days and nights here understood the suffering. Sometimes we couldn’t eat because of the bad odors.”

In the past few years, Taiz governorate witnessed high mortality rates caused by communicable and preventable diseases, including cholera and dengue fever. People in Sena suffered from poor sewage systems that affected the health of many children and adults in the area. Last year, Coronavirus added fuel to the fire, posing an additional threat to people’s health. Sena was one of the first regions in Taizz to report Covid cases.

For almost ten years, Fatoom has suffered from chest and respiratory diseases caused by the odors and gases emanating from the sewage. “We were unable to open the windows because of the bad odors,” she explains, “the smell made me feel sick, and I expect it to kill me one day.”

A group of children playing on a street with a littered trench on the side of the road
Like other mothers in the area, Fatoom was concerned about her grandchildren playing outside beside the wastewater, which exposed them to many risks and diseases

CARE repaired the sewage network in the Sena area. 80 Households, including Fatoom’s family, benefited from the improved sewage network. Moreover, 1658 families received consumable hygiene kits to maintain basic hygiene standards.

“Thanks to CARE,” says Fatoom, “the sewage system was repaired, and the area is now free from contamination and bad smells. I’m grateful for everyone who helped us enjoy a clean, disease-free environment,” she concludes.


A white tank and a small van in between buildings
The clean street after repairing the sewage system
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