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Safe Water Sources Protect Communities from Diseases and Displacement in Al-Hodeida

A stone patio with a fence around it

The water well after being protected against potential damage from flooding. Photo: Hafedh Alsarea /CARE

The water well after being protected against potential damage from flooding. Photo: Hafedh Alsarea /CARE

In war-torn Yemen, every community is home to many households who face hunger and immense hardships on a daily basis with a significant number of them going to bed hungry every night. Eight years of unyielding conflict have pushed almost two-thirds of the Yemeni population to the brink of famine, resulting in more than 17 million people being food insecure and in dire need of humanitarian assistance. The outbreak of pandemics has exacerbated the humanitarian situation further and has indeed increased food insecurity to unprecedented levels. These drivers of the current crisis are making life worse and more miserable for millions of Yemeni people.

The population living in Almarabea, a village Al-Hodeida Governorates’ Alzohra district situated along the Red Sea coast, are among the country’s most vulnerable people. Their suffering knows no bounds. Like many Yemeni households, they are badly affected by the conflict. In this particular sub-district, hunger is not their only concern. Everything here seems to be in jeopardy: people, houses, animals, their farmlands and even the only water well they have available to them.

The families in this community are vulnerable and at high risk of starvation and exposure to diseases due to the ongoing conflict. Their houses, farmlands, and animals are also in danger because of vulnerability to floods. Almarabea village is composed of many houses located at the edge of an old canal road. During rainy seasons, this canal is filled with rainwater that rises to high levels and leads to floodwater flowing into homes, washing away large parts of their farmlands and their belongings. Their one and only water well they have access to is also in jeopardy and susceptible to being swept away and destroyed by the floods hitting the district every year. When these floods do occur, they really bring devastation heaped upon the existing devastation of war and pandemics.

A boy walks along a flooded street
Almarabea village during the rainy season when the water well is hit by flooding. Photo: Ayman Jahaf/CARE

Hadi is 52 years old and father of five. He tells us about the sad situation he and his fellow villagers are witness to. “We’re exhausted by war and diseases. We don’t have money to buy enough food for our families. Many families reduce the number of daily meals while some others who are struggling more than others, have only one meal a day. The residents are very poor. Most of them feed their children with only bread and tea,” says Hadi.

Two men sitting on a stone wall next to water barrels.
Hadi explains the difficult situation the locals have been through since the beginning of the war. Photo: Hafedh Bakhit/CARE

“The flood is another burden for us. It’s a nightmare which we face every year. Every rainy season, torrential rains as well as floods hit our area. During rainfall, the residents live in absolute fear. Some fear that their houses could be swept away by floods. Some others are afraid that the floods overrun their farmlands. All of us are in a panic because we’re afraid of floods which can attack and damage our water well, which is still the only thing we have for clean drinking water to survive. When the floods come, the villagers try to protect their homes and the water well with fences made of piles of sand. But their efforts go in vain as these bags of sand cannot withstand the strong floods. We feel hopeless. We desperately need help,” says Hadi.

Recognizing the need to improve the living conditions for communities such as the residents in Almarabea village and to reduce their suffering, CARE has, through funding provided from Yemen Humanitarian Fund (YHF), intervened to provide these vulnerable households with four rounds of conditional cash transfer. This assistance aims to mitigate the impact of the ongoing conflict on such poor communities. The members of this community identified the need to protect their well and their homes to be their top priority. A total of 110 households including Hadi’s participated in cash-for-work activity to build gabion walls to protect the village, including the residents’ homes as well as the water well. In addition to having their community assets protected, the inhabitants earned income to provide enough food for their families. To ensure more safety and protection for these poor villagers, CARE has removed the previous unprotected water tank and built a new protected one, taking into account all the necessary measures to ensure that this current water tank will not be affected by the yearly floods.

People on camels in front of a water tank in a desert landscape.
The water well and the water tank in Almarabea after being protected by gabion walls. Photo: Hafedh Alsarea /CARE

The inhabitants are beginning to harvest the fruits of this assistance. “I’m extremely happy that our dreams have eventually come true.  At last, we now feel safe. Our village as well as our water well are all protected. We’ve also gained money for a period of four months. We’re able to buy clothes, food, and other basic essentials for our families. Thanks to whoever helps us,” says Hadi.

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