“Each day I have to leave my young children alone at home while I make the six-hour journey to collect water. Even if I could afford to buy it from a delivery truck, they couldn’t reach my house because the road is unpaved and impassable. Adding to our challenges, two villages are entirely dependent on one small spring for our survival.” – Najwa Al Ameri, 35, a mother of two.

Najwa Al Ameri, 35, mother of two | Photo Credit: UNDP Yemen/2020

Broken Pipes, Broken Dreams

Najwa Abdul Rahman Al-Ameri lives with her husband and two young children in Al-Manar district, Dhamar governorate. The family was just scraping by on her husband’s meagre salary when the conflict started in 2015. Their situation worsened when the family lost 70 per cent of their household income and the community lost their source of life: water. Pipes that used to carry water to remote communities have been destroyed in the conflict, water tanks are unusable, and roads that were once accessible for water delivery are no longer passable.   

Najwa looks distant as she explains: “Schools have been abandoned and children’s educations have suffered because villagers lack clean drinking water. Many of our children are illiterate because they must endure hard labor and navigate rough terrain to collect water every day. They often travel with their mothers for six hours each day, and even longer when it rains. Worst of all, the water is not clean nor is it safe to drink.”

Children and women are not the only community members affected by the water shortage – it also affects farmers like Ahmed Taher. Although he is only 42, Ahmed is now the only income earner in his family. Most people in the community rely upon farming and agriculture to earn an income – work that requires ample water. But in recent years, accessing enough water to survive has been difficult. 

Restoring Life

Seeing this critical need, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Public Works Project (PWP), and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Relief Fund (KSrelief) stepped in to support the Al-Manar community.

Following the expansion and repair of an existing network of pipes and water tanks, access improved for 13 remote villages and 17 hamlets in the district, including Al-Manar. Because of this work, water is now available to around 7,000 residents. The 12,000-meter-long network – built by 10 members of the local community through cash-for-work – is now triple the original length.

One of the water tanks that was installed in Dhamar governorate | Photo Credit: UNDP Yemen/2020

Access to clean drinking water allows children to return to school, women extra time to supplement the household income through employment opportunities like sewing and embroidery, and farmers to return to their fields. Hope has returned to Al-Manar and the other communities now that life is returning to normal.

Children are now able to go to school instead of fetching water | Photo Credit: UNDP Yemen/2020


The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) funding through the UNDP Yemen Emergency Crisis Response Project (YECRP) has contributed to ongoing famine response efforts. Thanks to the KSA grant, by the end of May 2020, nearly 6,500 people directly benefited from short-term paid public work employment in 63 sub-projects, covering agricultural land protection, road rehabilitation, and water harvest and supply.

The generated income allowed the participants to better meet their basic household needs such as food, water, medicine, clothing, shelter, education, and transportation. In addition, over 231,000 community members are benefiting from rehabilitated key infrastructure such as roads and clean drinking water – which are crucial for the well-being of communities and serve as a key preventive measure to the spread of cholera and COVID-19.

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