By: Malak Shaher YMEP USAID.
TAIZ – A new water awareness campaign will teach 174,000 people in water-starved Taiz how to better conserve the precious natural resource.
The workshop campaign is organized by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Community Livelihood Project (CLP) and by Yemen’s General Authority for Rural Water Projects (GARWP).
With its population booming, as far as Yemeni cities and severe water shortages are concerned, Taiz now only trails Sana’a. Experts have stated that water will become increasingly scarce throughout Yemen over the next 10 years, with critical shortages expected in some of the country’s largest cities.
“Water is more important than gold and people need to know how to conserve it and how to use it the right way,” said Abdulsalam Al-Zubairy, Water Sector Manager for the CLP, during the workshop’s opening.
The project aims to improve community health by increasing the management capacity of 40 rural Water User Associations. A key priority is to focus local leaders’ attention on the importance of community mobilization on the need to focus on water-related diseases and preventative measures.
Raja Naser, a health and environment expert from Taiz, said she is stuck buying water from water trucks most of the month, “except for the one or two times a month when water comes from the Public Water Project pipelines.”
Such problems are more severe in villages, as people lack an understanding of how to store water in ways which don’t promote disease.
“People in rural areas need awareness in this regard. They keep their water in big tanks without a cover. When it’s hot, they let water accumulate in front of their houses. They don’t understand that water is a breeding ground for malaria,” said Naser.
One of eight trainers in the workshop, Naser said each of the 80 trainees will in turn select 20-30 people, male and female, who will proceed to inform their neighbors of the dangers resulting from improper sanitation and water storage practices.
Before the training commenced, a team of eight experts from GARWP were sent to 11 districts in Taiz to better understand the needs of people living in these areas, explained Ahmad Al-Buhairi, head of the GARWP, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Water and Environment.
“The main reason for the two most widespread diseases in Taiz – schistosoma and malaria – is the improper storage of water and the use of bilge water,” said Al-Buhairi.
The project is also geared to raise awareness among local women. “In Taiz, women are the ones carrying water to the home; they are the ones cleaning the house, and they are the ones storing the water,” said Al-Buhairi.