In 2025, Fatal Dehydration Could Come to Yemen
By Tamjid Alkohali
Despite the great importance of water for every living creature on earth, the rain in Yemen brings many problems every year. Buildings are destroyed, roads are closed, traffic is stopped, and many accidents occur which sometimes lead to death.
Suad Ahmed lives in Alkyadh Street in Sana’a. She lost her son who fell in a big hole filled by rainwater. That was five years ago. “My son was 11 years old. He was playing in the street and then he went to watch the rainwater that was inside a very big hole, but because of the ground moisture, it fell down and my son fell with it. He drowned and no one could help him,” she said.
Suad added that not only did her son drown in that hole, but that she heard about other stories. “Its strange that the government doesn’t do anything for the dangerous situation,” she said.
The alsaúlah development, which was implemented in Sana’a in order to resolve the problem of torrential rain has led to the deaths of many people. “When it rains heavily, the rainwater gathers from everywhere in the city to the alsaúlah, so it fills with water which may sweep away anything in front of it. Because of the lack of awareness, many people and cars are affected,” said a man living near the alsaúlah.
He added that flash floods also sweep away the dirt from everywhere because of the lack of cleanliness and this thing creates an ugly view after raining.
The last accident caused by heavy rains was this month. It was in Al-Haymah and led to the death of two women and a man from the same family.
These problems are still going on without any attempts for a solution by officials because of their preoccupation with political conflicts. Abdalrguib al-Yousoufi said “every year the country enjoys a long and heavy rain season and this is a great blessing. Unfortunately, all the problems happen in this season because the country doesn’t have a strategy to drain rainwater in the main cities, adding to the lack of control for planning or unregulated construction.”
Al-Yousoufi added that beside all these problems, Yemen is threatened by drought, and the Taiz governorate could be the first city without water in 2014.
According to UNICEF, Yemen is considered one of the worst countries suffering from drought in the Arab world. Before the crisis occurred in the country in 2011, surveys estimated that about 4.5 million children live in families without water sources, and more than 5.5 million children do not get adequate sanitation. In addition, a recent report of UNICEF, a survey had been implemented in the water sector in the countryside in 2012, and it said that more than half of the population in Yemen doesn’t get water sources and proper sanitation. More than 30% of the infrastructure for water supply in rural areas doesn’t work, which makes the situation more difficult.
Moreover, each person in Yemen uses an average amount of 140 cubic meters of water every year, compared with an average of 1,000 cubic meters of water for each person in the rest of the Middle East and North Africa. From the 140 cubic meters of water, 7% people use it for personal and domestic use. The average rate of rain per year is only 167 mm, and there aren’t suitable facilities to store water (dams) in order to harvest rainwater as there are no permanent rivers. There are only a few means to harvest rainwater, but these are traditional and small range.
Furthermore, Professor Rashad Abdul Wahid says that the problem is exacerbated by Qat cultivation which consumes about 40% of the water that is withdrawn from the water docks every year, and this number is rising constantly. This is in addition to the half a million people displaced because of conflict. The whole country is now facing an emergency situation over water, sanitation, and hygiene and risks in terms of the spread of epidemics.
Abdul Wahid emphasized that stalled and old water supply projects, outages, fuel interruption, and conflicts have all contributed to the water disaster in the country.
“The coming water crisis especially in the Sana’a and Taiz governorates is because of drought of groundwater in wells feeding the city since the mid-eighties,” added Abdul Wahid.
The international Committee of the Red Cross warned of a drought in Yemen in 2025 because of the environmental crisis dating back to the 1970s, when technology was used for oil exploration and the withdrawal of groundwater.