A daily struggle to fetch water
Millions of Yemenis receive their water this way. They are unable to pay water fees, so there is no regular access to water in their homes.
Um Ali, a resident in Al-Safia, said the state water network provides them with water once or twice per week.
It’s a difficult task to collect water from public faucets. People crowd around to get the water, she said.
"So, it is necessary to for [women and children] to go everyday to bring water."
The security imbalances left by last year's political uprising made Yemen’s water issue drop to the bottom of the top priorities for the reconciliation government, aid workers and government employees say. The government has been busy with complex political issues—leading to the marginalization of the ever-more troublesome water problem the country faces.
Abdulsalm Razaz, Minister of Water and Environment, said, "We are working to raise the importance of this issue because it is a grave issue that could drive Yemenis with the ability to immigrate to other places. This issue is more dangerous than any political one."
As the depletion of Sana’a’s basin approaches, the government has adopted a string of procedures as preparation to face this danger. Among the procedures taken are stoppage of random digging and the use of irrigation technology, in addition to taking advantage of sanitation water and rainwater.
A new government report released by the Ministry of Water and Environment found that random digging is a major factor threatening underground water; the number of wells dug randomly in Sana'a governorate amounted to 13,256 compared with 9,200 wells in 1990. More than 90 percent of water goes to agricultural use; 800 million cubic meters go to planting qat.
Recent studies indicate that the wells dug in Bani Hushiash district in Sana'a governorate number roughly 5,000. This colossal number surpasses the number of wells in the entire country of Jordan. In addition, the majority of those wells were randomly excavated, resulting in water dearth.
Random digging decreases the amount of water underground; locals go on excavating deeply. Therefore, the springs and basins see depletion.
Engineer Saleh Al-Dhabi, Sana'a Basin project’s former manager, said the scarcity and shortage of water in Yemen refers to the inadequacy of rainfall. He said government and non-government efforts should be put in order to limit the misuse of water.
According to Al-Dhabi, qat planting increases 12 percent each year. Qat fields cover 22,000 hectares of land in Sana'a governorate, consuming approximately 160 cubic meters of water each year. If modern irrigation technologies were utilized, 40 percent of this water would be saved, he said.
However, qat is irrigated using traditional methods. Fields are covered with water, resulting in huge losses of water. Farmers find it necessary to draw water from wells through ditches. This also causes the loss of water. It is seldom that the farmers use sophisticated ways to irrigate.
“We function to alleviate water depletion, a problem we largely suffer from,” Abdulkareem Al-Saberi, manager of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation’s Irrigation Sector, said. "We plan to make use of rain water in order to augment water storage underground."
Al-Saberi said Yemen naturally lies in a dry region that lacks surface water such as lakes and rivers; hence, underground water is scant and cannot suffice the 25 million people living in Yemen.
"The state has not competently managed this problem; we are facing a crisis now," he said.