In rural parts of Yemen, most people often hike for hours, under difficult conditions and along unpaved desert roads just to find clean drinking water. Even if they are lucky enough to find a well, the water is most likely contaminated with dirt or mud. Water from one of these wells often leads to sickness and diarrhea. Children are the most affected. “It used to be even worse during the rainy season. Whenever there were floods in Wadi (a valley that is ordinarily dry), human and animal feces were washed up and seeped into our wells”, says Mohammed Salem, who lives in Alfishlah, a village in the province of Abyan without any latrines. “We couldn’t use the well, and that made me, my wife and my daughter suffer greatly. We had to cover great distances just to get water, and we couldn’t even wash ourselves at home.” Mohammed says that he and his family have already contracted cholera, diarrhea and other illnesses from the unclean water.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has begun repairing open wells in and around Alfishlah, so they may be used safely by its inhabitants and their livestock. Volunteers from each community were trained to raise awareness for safe hygienic practices, such as washing your hands and storing drinking water in clean, closed tanks. New, healthy practices have contributed to the inhabitants of Alfishlas and their neighbors being able to prevent avoidable diseases. “IRC has had a huge impact on our lives and has taught us amazing things”, Mohammed said. “This project has made many families very happy.”