Ensure environmental sustainability
Where we are?
Yemen suffers from the limited stable arable lands that do not exceed 2% of the total natural area which is dominated by desert and mountainous areas. This is in addition to the continuous deterioration in the arable lands by 1.8% annually during the period 1999-2006 as a result of the water erosion, the creeping of sand dunes, desertification and salty soil, in addition to the expansion in road construction, industrial and residential construction and weak environmental awareness of the dimensions and impacts of natural resources deterioration.
Statistics point out that the percentage of lands covered by forests until 2005 remained around 1.5% of the total area of Yemen. Preserving green areas requires more attention to the Tree Day and make this day as a national day with various events.
As for CO2 emissions, there was a limited increase to reach approximately 1 MT per capita compared to approximately and 0.7 MT per capita in 1990. Despite this increase, the share of the Yemeni person of CO2 emissions is still among the lowest averages at global level, which goes up to 12MT in developed countries and approximately 3 MT in developing countries.
With regard to the used energy units, an increase was recorded from 298 kg/1000 Dollars of the GDP in 1990 to 371 in 2004. As for the consumption of ozone-depleting substances, data indicates that there is a limited increase in the consumption of these substances. The consumption of the Ozone-depleting substances increased from 1904 MT in 2000 to approximately 2542 MT in 2007 with an annual growth rate of 4.8%.
With regard to protected land and sea areas, despite the existence of approximately 36 natural locations with high environmental characteristics and features qualifying them to be natural protected areas, yet so far only six locations were announced as protected areas, namely: Otmah, Socotra, Hawf, Buraa, Wetlands in Aden and Kamaran. The total area of these locations is 4500 km2 representing 1% of the total area in 2005. The Environment Protection Authority is currently working to finalize studies to announce three natural protected areas in the near future including Balhaf as a coastal protected area, Sharma-Jathmoon as a sea protected area in Hadhramout and Erf as a land protected area in Taiz.
Yemen suffers from scarcity of renewable freshwater resources due to the low rainfall rate (800mm annually in western highlands, 250 in lowlands and 50mm in coastal plains), while annual consumption of water is witnessing steady increase as a result of the annual population increases and growing economic activities. This results in the depletion of the water reservoirs. There is also the random drilling of wells and traditional methods of water usage for agricultural purposes. The annual deficit of water is exceeding one billion square meters, exceeding one third of the annual consumption.
Renewable water sources in Yemen reach 2.5 billion m3 (1.5 billion m3 of groundwater and 1 billion m3 of surface water), while annual consumption is 3.4 billion m3. Therefore, the current annual water deficit is app. 0.9 billion m3 compared to a deficit of 0.4 billion m3 in 1990. The deficit is expected to reach 1 billion m3 in 2010.
Efforts made to provide drinking water resulted in the reduction of the percentage of people who do not access safe drinking water from 65.1% in 1991 to 52% in 2008. However, the percentage of rural population who cannot access safe drinking water is 53% compared with 43% of the urban population for the same year.
In the field of sanitation, the percentage of population not using improved sanitation services is still high at 77% of the population in 2008. Despite a slow progress during the period 1994-2008, there is still wide gap between urban and rural areas. The coverage of improved sanitation services in rural areas is up to 32% of the population while it is only 22% in rural areas in 2008. This issue requires the mobilization of more efforts from the government to expand the coverage of an improved sanitation services for protection of the environment, especially in rural areas.
With regards to urban development, the third five year plan 2006-2010 included a package of policies and actions aimed at reducing slums and random constructions. The rapid population growth in Yemen, during the past four decades and the lack of rural development, contributed to the increasing trend of domestic migration from rural to urban areas, especially the main cities. This issue resulted in more random constructions in the fringes of main cities and increased pressure on basic services and difficult access to these services, especially education and health services. Still more than 8% of the population in 2005 cannot access safe accommodation.
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