Saving Lives One Liter at a Time

Speeches Shim

Monday, June 21, 2021
Despite her age, 50-year-old Oloum used to fetch water from faraway places every day.
Photo: CARE

Helping Yemeni Mothers Access Safe Water 

The maternal mortality rate in Yemen is among 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 transport water from far places, carrying heavy cans for long distances 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 the Jabal Habashi district of Ta’izz Governorate. Salwa and her female neighbors used to carry 10-liter jerry cans and walk long distances daily -- nearly four hours -- to collect enough water just for one day. The trek to find water wasn’t only long and exhausting, but women were put at risk from 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 services, which are crucial for preventing disease outbreaks. Conditions in Yemen have put more Yemenis’ health at particular risk of 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 Habashi. “This has caused kidney failure for many residents here.” 

Jabal Habashi is one of the poorest districts in Ta’izz Governorate in 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, who must often relieve themselves in secluded public spaces, putting themselves at risk of harassment and abuse.

With funding from USAID, CARE works to improve access to safe water in Tai’zz Governorate through constructing and rehabilitating water schemes. CARE rehabilitated nine water schemes in the Jabal Habashi and Al Misrakh districts with new reinforced concrete and stone water tanks, solar pumping systems, pumping pipelines, well protection, water distribution points, and animal drinking basins. The new water schemes benefit 4,468 families in total.

“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.” 

In addition, the activity distributed water purification tablets to 6,824 households, and held hygiene promotion activities focused on correct handwashing techniques, proper waste disposal, and the importance of wearing masks and social distancing to create durable change in targeted communities. Moreover, family latrines for 200 households were constructed in the Jabal Habashi district to improve sanitation and hygiene conditions for the targeted families.

“Thanks to CARE water is available, and we became aware of good hygiene practices that keep us heakthy,” says Salwa. “Nothing feels safer than having a toilet at home.”

Last updated: November 19, 2021

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