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Sewage-free streets

Two young girls smiling

Wafa and her sister Rahaf love to play by their house

Wafa and her sister Rahaf love to play by their house

Growing up in one of the most difficult places on earth to be a child has been the fate of a whole generation of Yemeni children. The six-year-long conflict in Yemen has taken a devastating toll on children’s growth and wellbeing. Displacement, as well as the lack of access to education and health, often threatens their safety.

In 2020, the situation for children in Yemen was further devastated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and funding cuts. Even before the pandemic closures, nearly one-third of all school-age children were already out of school.

Near their small rented house in Wadi Alsalami district of Taizz, young Wafa and Rahaf were happily chasing each other in a game of ‘catch me’. Like a ray of sunshine, the two sisters were full of hope and energy, but two months ago, the case was different.

Wafa and Rahaf were very sick from playing in front of their house. Sadly, they contracted dengue fever and spent some time in the hospital until they recovered. “Our area suffered from a lack of sewage systems meaning that sewage water filled the street,” says Balqees – Wafa’s and Rahaf’s mother.


Two little girls smiling facing the camera
Wafa and Rahaf are glad because their street is clean and they can play safely

Nearly six years of continuous fighting in Taizz governorate, southwestern Yemen, have devastated the health, water and sanitation system in the city, leading to significant health risks. Many residents in Wadi Alsalami, children mostly, suffer from preventable diseases such as diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia.

Moreover, many people in Wadi Alsalmi were infected with the chikungunya virus, which is transmitted by infected mosquitoes and spreads in areas that suffer from poor sewage systems. Like all mothers, Balqees worried about her children’s health, given their weak immunity and the spread of epidemics, but she couldn’t protect them or rent a house in a better place.

With funding from the European Union, CARE provided life-saving assistance to conflict-affected displaced people and host communities in Salh, Al qahirah and Al mudhaffar districts of Taizz governorate. The project improved the drainage and waste management system to reduce epidemics and improve public health.

Luckily for Wafa, Rahaf and other families living in Wadi Al salami, the sewage system was repaired, and the neighbourhood is now free from contaminated water and bad odours. “Many families have benefitted from the sewage system repairment, and children don’t get sick as much as they did in the past,” thankfully concludes Balqees.


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