"We feel safe and protected"
The war in Yemen has devastated countless of lives and torn many families apart. For some however, the threat of persistent bombing and violence is not the only concern. A sometimes greater cause of worry, is lacking access to clean drinking water, without which caring for the most basic needs becomes difficult.
In July 2015, faced with the realities of escalating conflict, Mohammed and his family were forced to leave their home in Al Dhale’e governorate.
Looking for safety, the family left their hometown and headed for Yemen’s capital Sanaa. They eventually settled in the village of Galman, in Sanaa’s Sanhan district.
Once in Galman, Mohammed’s father opened a small shop in the village, providing the only source of income for the family. Leaving Al Dhale’e for Sanaa, meant that the family lost their livelihood. Wage labour remains the only alternative, a very limited source of income.
The fate of Mohammed’s family is emblematic for the dire situation in Yemen; a war that has now displaced over a million people. Meanwhile, access to health care and clean water remains limited. Few humanitarian organisations continue to operate in the country, and those that do, including International Medical Corps, must adjust to working under strained circumstances, often without resources such as fuel, water and medical supplies.
A shortage of clean water has, in particular, caused problems for people living in Yemen. Abdalghani, a community mobiliser working for International Medical Corps, explains:
“Most of the people forced from their homes in this area were relying on water trucking and un-protected dug wells in the area and a majority of them, especially children, suffered from diarrheal diseases.”
Mohammed’s mother, for example, like many other women in the area, was forced to spend several hours collecting water from a distant well. More often than not, she was harassed along the lengthy journey.
“I was scared and physically exhausted,” the 30-year-old mother says.
Since International Medical Corps has begun to distribute chlorinated water, with funding support from KSC in November 2016, Mohammed’s mother says that the women have started to feel “safe and protected.” A water tank within 100 metres from her home is being filled twice a day, allowing her easy access to water without having to access the well.
“In early 2016, I had to spend a significant amount of time caring for my kids, especially when one caught typhoid,” Mohammed’s mother recalls.
This began to change when community health volunteers from International Medical Corps began to offer hygiene education sessions. “Trends of diarrhoeal diseases have significantly reduced,” Abdalghani explains.
“We feel safer having a water point nearby,” Mohammed’s mother says.