DUTCH GOVERNMENT PROVIDES US$ 5.7 MILLION TO SUPPORT THE EXTENSION OF WATER AND SANITATION SERVICES TO RURAL AREAS IN YEMEN
48% of Yemenis without access to safe drinking water or adequate sanitation facilities
Sana’a 25th November 2012 - At a signing ceremony in the Yemen capital Sana’a, the Government of the Netherlands and UNICEF today sealed the donation of US$ 5.7 million in support of the ‘Extension of Water and Sanitation Services in Rural Communities’.
The project which will be managed by UNICEF will cover a two year period from 2012 – 2014 and will focus on Hodeidah, Taiz and Ibb governorates, which have the highest levels of water scarcity and malnutrition in the country, and will benefit over 165,900 persons in 41 rural areas within the three governorates.
The project aims to contribute to the improvement of drinking water sources, sanitation facilities and general health and hygiene conditions through the rehabilitation of the water supply systems, household pit latrines and promote open defecation free status in 20 selected communities.
“An estimated 70,000 children aged less than five die annually in Yemen from easily preventable diseases”, says UNICEF Representative Geert Cappelaere.
“The major causes of these child deaths in order of magnitude are diarrhoea, pneumonia, measles, low birth weight, prematurity and asphyxia. The top three directly and/or indirectly linked to water, sanitation and hygiene practices.
Over 50% of these deaths have malnutrition as an underlying exacerbating factor with diarrhea as a major contributor. Tackling access to improved water and sanitation is therefore an urgent priority to ensure the wellbeing of the children of Yemen.”
Yemen is one of the most water-deficient Arab countries, with declining freshwater resources due to over-pumping of aquifers. Water demand is growing due to population growth and increased per capita water consumption.
Prior to the civil unrest that has swept across Yemen since early 2011, surveys estimated that around 4.5 million children lived in households that had no access to an improved water source and that over 5.5 million children had no access to adequate sanitation.
The rural water supply and sanitation services have deteriorated where 30% of the rural water supply schemes are not functioning due to depleted water sources, disrupted water pumping sets and inadequate maintenance of existing facilities amongst others.
The situation has been further compounded with the crisis in 2011 and its political and economic consequences of instability and under-investment.
The rural populations continue to bear the brunt of the poor water and sanitation in the country with around 73.3 percent of Yemeni’s population living in rural areas and lack of accessing to safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene.
The signing of this agreement today with the Dutch Government will enhance efforts towards the rehabilitation of water schemes, building of new infrastructure and launch innovative community-led sanitation programmes, especially in the most under-served districts in the country.
Earlier this year the Dutch Government pledged €3 million towards humanitarian efforts in Yemen.