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Roads and happiness

A rocky landscape with a building in the distance

The house that the motorbike hit after falling from the top of the hill

The house that the motorbike hit after falling from the top of the hill

Locals of Bani Mawhoub village in Amran governorate in Yemen’s north have been suffering from the difficulty of moving from one area to another one for years. Life in such remote villages is extremely harsh. The roads are dangerous and it takes hours and great efforts to reach the nearest markets and health centres.

“The mountainous roads are very rugged and people were afraid of using vehicles along the roads,” says Fakher Al-Deen Saleh. “Sadly, many accidents have happened.” Fakher is a 30-year-old resident of Bani Mawhoub village. He remembers an accident his brother had: “One day while I was working in another village, I received a call from a family member telling me that my brother had lost control of his motorbike. He was going to buy some daily basics from the district when his motorbike ran down the hill to the main street and hit a house. The motorbike was totally destroyed – it was his only source of income.”

The roads were so unsafe that drivers from other districts used to refuse to come to the village to hospitalise a patient or a pregnant woman regardless how much money they were offered.

Like Fakher’s brother, one of the villagers was driving his car along the road when he lost control and fell down the hill. Luckily, he survived that horrible accident, but his car was damaged beyond repair. No cars came to the village after that. 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. The villagers’ dream was to have safe, paved roads.

In response to their wishes, with funding from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, CARE intervened with a cash for work project. CARE has paved 800 metres of roads, and 454 workers have benefitted from this project which has created temporary employment for the poorest households.

A stone path with people walking on it
The road that leads to the village after CARE’s project

Locals celebrated the arrival of the first car since the accident and after CARE’s intervention and women ululated happily to see a car in the village.

Fakher says: “Thanks to CARE’s intervention residents can now travel easily and the numbers of accidents have decreased. The burden for women has been alleviated – they no longer have to carry flour and water on their heads.”

Moreover, local workers have acquired the skills of carving rocks and are able to work and secure a daily income to improve their financial situation in this time of conflict. Delivery drivers’ fees have decreased from 50,000 to almost 10,000 Yemeni Riyals. It is not only the drivers who are benefitting from the paved roads, but also students can go to schools in the district because of the number of cars coming to their villages.

“We wish we could have more projects like this not only in our village, but also in the neighbouring rural villages,” says Fakher with a big smile.

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