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Yemeni mothers struggle to access safe water

Women carrying Jerrycans and standing next to a concrete building that has pipes attached to it

In Yemen, the burden of fetching water often falls on women and girls

In Yemen, the burden of fetching water often falls on women and girls

Maternal mortality rates in Yemen are some of the highest in the region. Due to the lack of services, 1.2 million pregnant and lactating women suffer from either moderate or severe malnutrition. Moreover, women are often responsible for fetching water every day from the nearest water sources. Even pregnant women bring water from far places, carrying heavy cans for a long distance under the sun’s heat, which risks their babies’ and their own lives.

Salwa, a 35-year-old pregnant mother, lives with her three children in Jabal Habashi district of Taizz governorate. Salwa and her female neighbours used to carry ten-litre jerry cans and walk long distances daily. The fetching journey takes nearly four hours every day to collect enough water just for one day. The trek to find water wasn’t only long and exhausting, but women could also be subjected to other hazards such as abuse and wild animals. “Many women have lost their babies because of carrying heavy jerry cans and walking on the long road,” says Salwa.


Since 2015, Yemen has been devastated by the ongoing conflict, leaving millions of people without access to proper health care, clean water or sanitation, which is crucial for preventing disease outbreaks. Conditions in Yemen have put more Yemenis’ health at particular risk of a highly contagious diseases. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the country was already struggling to cope with diseases such as cholera, dengue fever and malaria.

“We used to consume unclean drinking water,” says Oloum, a 50-year-old displaced mother who lives in Jabal Habshi district. “This has caused kidney failure for many residents here.”

A woman wearing a red head scarf
Despite her age, 50-year-old Oloum used to fetch water from faraway places every day

Jabal Habashi is one of the poorest districts in Taizz governorate, southwestern Yemen. Residents often lack access to basic services like clean water and safe latrines. Lack of access to latrines leads to water and food contamination and increases the spread of life-threatening diseases. The case is even worse for women and girls. Lack of household latrines means that they have to look for secluded spaces to relieve themselves in private, which increases their exposure to many risks and vulnerabilities.

CARE, with funding from USAID, helped thousands of families in Jabal Habashi and Al Misrakh districts of Taizz governorate to access safe water through rehabilitating nine water schemes.

The intervention linked water purification distribution activities with hygiene promotion activities to create a durable change in the targeted communities, besides improving sanitation and hygiene for 200 households in Jabal Habashi district through constructing family latrines.

“Thanks to CARE,” says Salwa, “water is available, and we became aware of good hygiene practices that keep us healthy.”

“Children and women – especially pregnant mothers – no longer face the risks of fetching water from faraway places,” says Oloum. “Now women have time to take care of themselves and their families.”

“Nothing feels safer than having a toilet at home,” concludes Salwa.

A young man with Jerrycans fetching water from a tap
A child filling his jerry cans easily from an easy-to-reach water point
A white small building with orange trim
The newly-constructed water scheme
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