Celebrating World Water Day

22 Mar 2010

imageProviding water for internally Displaced People in AlMazrak Camp


The blessed land “Yemen” is crying for waters, with no tears! With no lakes, streams nor fountains, water in Yemen is either salty from the sea or wasted from the sky.

On the 22nd of March, another World Water Day was celebrated under a very important theme “Clean Water for a Healthy World”. It is always an occasion to remind us all that access to water for life is a basic human need and a fundamental human right.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Yemen, represented by the Ministry of Water and Environment and the National Water Resources Authority (NWRA), are working hand in hand, with other partners, to address this crisis with the utmost care and responsibility.

They have always seized such an opportunity, namely the World Water Day, to raise the awareness of Yemenis and to emphasize the importance of the corporate social responsibility towards water scarcity in this country.

The occasion was recognized in Taiz, Ibb and in the Internal Displaced People Camps (Al-Mazrak I& III). A big awareness raising campaign was launched in Taiz and Ibb with the participation of local communities, religious leaders, academics, women and youth. School Groups were created to raise the students’ awareness of water issues and challenges. Imams in Mosques utilized Friday Prayers to talk about the public common responsibly towards water resources.

In short, all messages in Taiz and Ibb were loud and clear. Yemen is clearly a case where one has to talk about a water crisis without being alarmist. Water supply is naturally constrained by virtue of Yemen’s location in the dry Arabian Peninsula. However, human action has rapidly worsened the problem with the use of subsidized pumps and diesel to run them, with no education on appropriate water-conserving techniques.

This has eventually led to over-utilization of water from tube wells. What is worse, up to 80 percent of new wells in the Highlands are used for Qat production, which has no nutritional value, thus crowding out food crops, in addition to adversely affecting household welfare due to impact of Qat purchase on household budgets and lowering labour productivity.

In one sentence, water scarcity is the most crucial challenge faced by the country and is likely to remain so unless drastic measures are taken.

The recognition of the World Water Day in Haradh coincided with the inauguration of the Camps Water Supply System, which was installed in Al-Mazrak camps I and III, to provide safe drinking water to 45,000 beneficiaries. The system was fully funded by Oxfam GB and UNICEF.

Camps inhabitants were happy with the inauguration and equally happy with the World Water Day! The recognition in Haradh made them feel integrated and that their problems were not forgotten.

In the main ceremony, in AlMazrak III, Ms. Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, talked about the commitment that we all share towards the innocents people that flew from their homes and everyday lives to settle in an open sky safe heaven.

She described the project as essential and crucial for the camps and the nearby areas that are inhabited by Internal Displaced People, who could not sign in the camps, for different reasons.

During the ceremony, a member of the community recited a touching poem talking about the situation in the camps, and underlining the important theme of the World Water Day. Government of Yemen, OXFAM, UNICEF and UNHCR showed commitment to the cause and talked about the importance of this day, in that place, and under these circumstances.

Finally, the World Water Day is over, but the water challenge in Yemen remains.