Ten-year-old Saleh loved school, but was forced to stop attending his classes because of the lack-of-water supply to his village, Al-Raqqa, in Hajjah District. He and his father, Hilal Sweid, took turns collecting water every day by guiding their donkey three kilometers away from the village to the nearest water source. Joining many others at the end of the difficult journey, they collected only two jerry cans of water from the well before making the walk back to the village.
Hilal and Saleh often had to make difficult choices with the use of their water, using it to cook and drink instead of for general hygiene purposes. But with the help of a partner-funded UNDP Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) cash-for-work project, this has now changed. With the project, Halil helped build a water reservoir in the village – very close to their home. This easy access to the water ensures they now have easy access to clean water for food and sanitation purposes, and can use their time for other activities.
For Hilal and Saleh, the water reservoir has been a major change in their lives. “Before, because of a lack of water, we kept rocks in the bathroom to clean ourselves after we used the toilet. But now we can use water instead,” said Hilal. He adds, “The money I earned from constructing our water reservoir helps me buy food. And now my son doesn’t have to miss school anymore – he is once again focused on his studies.” Smiling, Saleh added “My feelings are indescribable; I can’t believe that I’m going back to school! I love you all for making this happen.”
UNDP has partnered with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to implement the US$ 3 million WASH Emergency Crisis Response Project to improve quality water sources, and appropriate sanitation and hygiene services. This is done through the construction of water reservoirs and building latrines for vulnerable local households in deprived rural communities.