ACTNews, SANA’A – Yellow, white and blue jerry cans were laid down in rows on the dry, dusty soil. Jerry cans, buckets and water reservoirs are empty in Yemen. Water has been a luxury in this conflict-ridden country.
Hundreds of Yemenis carrying the jerry cans were waiting for the water from the reservoirs to flow, but the hope seemed to be futile.
Unlike in Jakarta and other areas in Indonesia where rain is falling heavily almost on daily basis, Yemen has been parched. There has been no rain for months. Clean water has been hardly available, making life more difficult for the in the country torn by civil war since 2015.
Reporting directly from Yemen, Rudi Purnomo of SOS for Yemen – Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT) stated that drought has been affecting Yemen throughout the year. Water wells in the country can no longer flow clean water.
From a place called Al Mahwa Bani Hwat in Bani Al Harad District in Sana’a, Purnomo mentioned that the need for clean water is in critical condition. “I was in a place where many Yemeni Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) live. Many of them came from Hodeidah, the port city that becomes one of the centers of the conflict. There, the villagers are in dire need of clean water. Everything was dry and dusty,” said Purnomo.
That day, in the last week of November 2018, Rudi Purnomo witnessed directly how the people in Al Mahwa Bani Hwat walked a long distance only to find an empty water reservoir. “They had walked a long distance to reach the water reservoir, but it was empty. There had been no water aid that reached the place. The locals could only wait,” said Purnomo.
The locals await clean water distribution
As shown in pictures sent by Rudi Purnomo from Sana’a, several young Yemeni women along with their children were seen sitting on the jerry cans they carried from home, waiting for the arrival of clean water aid. Although their hope might be futile, bright smile was seen on their faces.
Without clean water, life in this war-torn area becomes very much harder. Living as IDPs without employment, proper food, and clean water, the Yemenis become much more vulnerable to skin diseases. Their lives came under the threat of the cholera outbreak.
“They are in dire need of clean water. Almost all villagers of Al Mahwa Bani Hwat are suffering from cholera and skin diseases due to lack of clean water. Without water, they cannot cook, drink or clean themselves,” said Purnomo.
Khalid, the chief of Al-Mahwa Bani Hwat Village, said to Purnomo that his village is very poor. The situation worsened with the arrival of IDP families from Hodeidah. Khalid said that his village now have 503 IDP families.
“They rent houses here, and some of them were also hosted by the locals. In total, there are 1,010 families in the village. Half of them are IDPs,” said Khalid.
In the parched city of Sana’a, Purnomo also found out that the locals have been digging wells in vain. “On several corners of the city, the locals had been trying to find water sources by digging wells, but they did not come to fruition. The only solution is to rely on clean water distribution that no one knows when,” said Purnomo.
Responding to the water crisis in Yemen, especially Sana’a, Purnomo made sure that Aksi Cepat Tanggap will send clean water on daily basis. “The water crisis in Yemen has terribly exacerbated the situation there. Clean water distribution will be ACT’s main program apart from food packages distribution,” said Purnomo.
UNICEF: 8.6 Million Yemeni children lack clean water
Some 8.6 million Yemeni children currently lack access to potable water, the UN children’s fund (UNICEF) reported on Thursday (11/22), as quoted from Anadolu Agency. Speaking via Twitter, UNICEF warned that a chronic lack of access to water and health services was putting Yemeni children at risk of cholera, an infectious and fatal bacterial disease.
Furthermore, the UN stated that around 85,000 Yemeni children less than five years old have died of malnutrition since the beginning conflict in 2015.Entering the fourth year of the civil war, about 14 million people in Yemen approximately half of the country’s total population, are at risk of starvation, the UN said.