Yemen crisis: Risking your life for water

By Lucy Beck, Emergency Response Specialist at CARE

Even before the conflict started, collecting water was a risky business. Most water points in the area consist of little more than open wells and it was not uncommon that women or children would fall down them while trying to collect water, injuring themselves, or even worse, dying. Now with the constant sound of bombing above, it has become even more dangerous.

As Bushra Aldukhainah, CARE Yemen’s Humanitarian Programme Manager says; “There were so many stories of young children falling into wells, when you watch them in the act of trying to get water from these open wells, it’s absolutely terrifying. Now, the new terror on top of this, is the planes above and bombs falling. As CARE we can’t stop the bombing but we can make sure people don’t have to travel so far for water, use open wells, or wait so long outside.”

In spite of this ongoing fear people remain positive and even keep their sense of humour. One woman jokes as she lines up at the water tank; “Our donkeys must have been very happy – even more than us – when [CARE’s] tap was set up, as they don’t have to walk long distance anymore when we collect water!”

These daily donkey processions continue, even with the falling bombs. At one point, the noise of the planes overhead becomes so loud that people start to panic; running in all directions.

Everyone rushes to fill their water containers as quickly as possible before melting back into the countryside in search of cover.

In rural areas like Bani Qa’is people live in small makeshift shelters, not the cement and brick apartments of Yemen’s bigger cities. When bombs fall from the sky they have no proper place to run and hide, making these attacks even more terrifying. The week before this some people had been killed in aerial bombardments in the district just next to Mohammad’s.

In order to keep people from walking such long distances and to provide safer, cleaner water sources, CARE has rehabilitated 12 water systems in the area and built a stone water tank. This means that people no longer have to risk their lives balancing over an open well to get water. With this system, water is available 24 hours a day, pumped up from the ground through a solar system and dispersed through hose taps.

Yemen’s water crisis is clearly and alarmingly expressed in numbers – 80 per cent of Yemeni’s are struggling to find enough water to survive each day. Eight out of ten people wonder if they will find safe drinking water or adequate sanitation. These figures are what drive people to risk their lives making the dangerous journey to the water tank every day.

CARE’s Emergency Response Fund allows us to provide life-saving assistance during crises that may not make the news. Donate to the Emergency Response Fund and help CARE immediately respond to emergencies and prepare communities for future disasters.