Yemen’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure has suffered significant damage and underdevelopment as a result of the country’s armed conflict, leaving many people struggling to access water and sewage services. According to the 2023 Humanitarian Needs Overview, an estimated 15.4 million people need support in accessing clean and safe water, latrines, and sewage systems.
Lack of access to adequate WASH facilities is of particular concern where latrines are not easily accessible. Often, Yemenis must use shared latrines with poor drainage and sewage, or in many cases, use open spaces a considerable distance from their homes. This exposes them to health risks, such as acute diarrhea, and water-borne diseases.
The challenges of accessing WASH facilities are greater for families with pregnant and lactating women, adolescent girls, young children, older persons, and people with disabilities. Where no latrines are available near their homes, women and girls usually wait for nightfall, trekking into the dark to relieve themselves. Retaining urine from morning to night often causes infections, especially for pregnant women, and can lead to kidney failure. Children also face many threats, including exposure to attacks by stray dogs, insects, and snakes.
Basmala*, 14, lives with her family in a rural district in Al-Dhale’e Governorate in southwestern Yemen. Her father had built a small makeshift toilet out of mud which was sadly washed away by heavy rains and flash floods, forcing the family to resort to using open spaces again. "After rains destroyed our latrine, I had to head out into the dark every night to find a spot away from our home. I wasn’t comfortable being seen during daylight,” said Basmala. “There have been times when I’ve been chased by stray dogs, which is terrifying, and I’ve had to run back home. It’s very uncomfortable to have to wait to go until after nightfall.”
"I've felt relieved and safe ever since the latrine was installed next to my house. It's a blessing to use the toilet whenever you need to." — Basmala.
Mohsen, 39, also lives in Al-Azariq District. He is the sole breadwinner for his family but struggles to find a steady job because of the economic crisis. “My elderly mother had to accompany my teenage sisters regularly at night to relieve themselves in nearby hills because we had no toilet close to our home,” said Mohsen. “I used to worry about them every time they’d go out in the dark, but I couldn’t afford to build a latrine at home.”
To help families such as Mohsen’s and Basmala’s, the USAID-funded Addressing WASH Services in Yemen project, implemented by CARE, built 100 home latrines—50 each in the Al Dhale’e and Taiz governorates. The project team also shares tips for good hygiene practices—handwashing, food and water hygiene, proper use and maintenance of latrines, and waste disposal.
"I've felt relieved and safe ever since the latrine was installed next to my house. It's a blessing to use the toilet whenever you need to," said Basmala. Mohsen agrees about the value the new toilet brings to his household. “The fact that my family does not need to venture out into the night is such a relief," he said. *Names have been changed to protect identities.