"A stampede in Khadija School in Abyan has forced many female students to take classes under trees. The school had around 670 students – an average of 80 students per class.” Abdulbari, the head of community committee, is sharing his insights on how bad the overcrowding situation was.
Khadija school like many other schools in the rural areas of Zenjubar, Abyan, face many challenges that affect children’s ability to receive proper education. Before the intervention, the school lacked sufficient classrooms and water and sanitation facilities. As a result, many children had to attend lessons in makeshift classrooms in the open or inside tents.
“The health implications of inadequate water and sanitation facilities are very serious. Girls in particular are pushed out of school if these facilities are inadequate. Additionally, children turned away from school when the school’s official enrollment capacity was reached” Abdulburi explained.
“Having more classes in our school will not only reduce overcrowding inside classrooms, but girls will no longer have to travel for a long distance to attend school in nearby areas” Anjela Omar, the principal of Khadija School explained.
Under the Food Assistance for Assets (FFA) component of Supporting Resilience Livelihoods and Food Security in Yemen JP (ERRY II JP) co-funded by EU &SIDA, Care International in partnership with World Food Programme (WFP) implemented many projects in the district. The construction of new classrooms and the overall rehabilitation of Khadija School was prioritized by the community. Fifty-five members of the most vulnerable households were selected by the community committee to participate in the construction of three classrooms (4.5 ×7meter each) and a big hall (5×10 meter), in addition to restoring the school’s fence, façade and toilets.
“Building additional classrooms offered a radical solution to overcrowding- The number of students attending classes was reduced from 80 to 45 students per class. Now, we can also conduct recreational activities that require a large space using the big hall” Anjela Omar, the principal of Khadija School, explained.
Construction work lasted for six months. The work plan and the detailed technical studies were developed by field engineers prior to the start of the project. Participants were divided into working groups and each participant received a cash transfer in Yemeni Riyals equivalent to around USD 6 per day for 15 days per month, amounting to a total of USD 90 per participant throughout the project.
The project contributed to improving the education opportunities of the children in the community; it also provided immediate food assistance through cash transfers to food insecure FFA participants and their households. Lotfi Ahmed Mansour, a father of three children, was one of those vulnerable people who participated in the project. Lotfi who has experienced a hard-knock life to attend to the basic needs of his elderly sick mother and children stated, "being part of the construction work at our school has helped provide a daily income for me and my family.”
Mohammed, another FFA participant, mentioned that his life has become much better ." with the cash I received, I managed to buy three sheep which I am planning to raise and sell for a profit in the near future."
Certain FFA activities were tailored to facilitate the engagement of 23 women in the rehabilitation work at Khadija School such as planting trees, restoring the school furniture, and conducting awareness campaigns through home visits & focus group discussions to raise the targeted community’s awareness on adequate health and hygiene practices and COVID-19 protective measures.
Salam AL Osi is a mother of two who has participated in the rehabilitation of Khadija School since October 2019. She is illiterate and relies on her husband’s livelihood as a fisherman. Her husband’s fishing net was partially damaged which decreased his productivity. Thanks to the savings made through the project, Salma was able to purchase a new fishing net for her husband.
"Construction work was completed and now students can enjoy a better learning environment”, says Anjela. “Thanks to those who have managed and funded this tremendous work and we look forwards to improving the status of the education facilities across the district through such valuable interventions”, she added.
Food Assistance for Assets activities is one of WFP’s interventions that focuses on building and rehabilitating sustainable community assets with short-term and long-term objectives. FFA interventions seeks to provide targeted households with monthly transfers to cover the immediate food consumption gaps, while improving access to natural and physical resources. Interventions aim to restore food systems, increase agricultural production, increase protection against natural and man-made shocks and strengthening access to markets and social services.
The Enhanced Rural Resilience in Yemen Programme (ERRY) is a three-year (2016-2019) joint programme funded by the European Union and implemented by FAO, ILO, UNDP and WFP, to enhance the resilience and self-reliance of crisis-affected rural communities in Abyan, Hajjah, Hudaydah, and Lahj Governorates. The overall objective of the Programme is to contribute to reduced vulnerability and strengthened resilience of crisis-affected communities in Yemen through the creation of sustainable livelihoods and improving access to basic services.