Like many other villages in the Yemeni countryside, Al-Hamami village lacked basic services – including access to clean drinking water. The situation improved slightly during the rainy season, when rain water could be collected in household containers. However, this provided only temporary relief for the village, which did not have proper rainwater storage.
Alternatively – and most commonly – women and children fetched water from the bottom of the nearest valley. It was a five-hour journey and had to be made at least once per day.
The trek was not only long and arduous. Women could be subject to harassment, abuse, or other dangers. For children, it interfered with school attendance and reduced their opportunities to learn valuable skills such as reading and writing. A nine-year old boy in Al-Hamami village in the Hajjah governorate explained, “It takes me and my elder sister half a day to go and fetch two 20-litre jerry-cans on the back of the donkey from the spring down the valley. We usually go in the morning in summer, but during school… we miss few classes…” The incessant demands of fetching water were draining the community of its life.
UNDP’s Social Protection for Community Resilience Project is designed to assist in situations just like this. In the case of Al-Hamimi, UNDP and the Social Fund for Development engaged households in constructing rainwater harvesting reservoirs. In addition to acquiring a valuable skill, project participants were remunerated in cash and also secured access to a reliable source of clean drinking water.
As described by Project Engineer, Mohammed Mujahed, “The rainwater harvesting reservoirs have served the community’s utmost priority, which is drinking water – and everybody is happy with it.” Each household, he says, received the equivalent of US$830, enabling them to purchase construction materials, and remunerating their labour so that they could provide food and necessities to their families. In addition, he notes, their newly-acquired construction skills will help participants to gain work in the future.
Community member, Esam Hadi describes the experience as “… a dream come true. We all worked on this reservoir as it addresses everyone’s eternal suffering. But, more importantly, I am happy my 11-year old daughter won’t have to miss school anymore to go through the water fetching journey.”
The Social Protection for Community Resilience Project (SPCRP) is funded and supported by the European Union (EU) and implemented by UN Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with The Social Fund for Development (SFD). The US$28 million project aims to enhance the purchasing capacity of vulnerable communities while restoring community infrastructure, improving access to key services, and building the capacity of communities and local authorities.