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How can traditions and technology contribute to solving the water crisis in Yemen?

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

One possible approach to combating water shortages in affected communities is by integrating traditional and modern methods, harnessing the power of innovation while respecting indigenous knowledge.

ازمة المياه في اليمن. وكالة أنباء الصين
Water crisis in Yemen. China News Agency

According to a recent Human Rights Watch report, the parties to Yemen's conflict have exacerbated the country's water crisis since 2014, citing what the Taiz Governorate is witnessing of the Houthis' strong control over the governorate's water basins, and the use of that control as a weapon by preventing water from flowing to city residents, which is a violation of human rights.


Another prior Human Rights Watch report confirmed that water shortages in Yemen led to increasing instability and human rights violations, noting the disruptions in water supplies that Aden residents face.


Yemen is one of the world's most water-stressed countries, with current groundwater withdrawals exceeding annual recharge. Water scarcity threatens the people not just directly, but also indirectly by hurting agricultural production and hence food security. Dwindling groundwater resources immediately endanger agricultural production because the sector utilizes 90% of the water removed, with home and industrial usage accounting for the remaining 8% and 2%, respectively.


Yemen also lacks the infrastructure for rainfall harvesting and groundwater replenishment. Because it runs unregulated into the sea, water that could have been used for groundwater replenishment or agricultural production is lost. In contrast, many areas of Yemen lack government water networks, especially the countryside and small towns. The population relies on community networks that they have created on their own or with the assistance of benefactors or non-governmental groups. Others rely on mobile water tankers to get their water.


Peace and stability must undoubtedly be achieved to contribute to addressing water crises, and simultaneously, the ability to pump water for the population must be improved by building and improving water distribution networks and using solar energy to withdraw water to avoid the high costs of withdrawing and pumping water using fuel.


Another strategy to address water scarcity in affected communities is to combine traditional and modern methods, leveraging the power of innovation while respecting indigenous knowledge. Traditional rainwater gathering approaches, such as catchments or subterranean tanks, can be improved using modern technologies such as filtration and purifying systems. Communities can diversify their water sources and ensure a more sustainable supply by adding cutting-edge technologies such as solar panel-powered condensing machines or using solar energy to extract water.


Clean water can also be obtained by the employment of the breakthrough technology known as Solar Water Disinfection, or SODIS, which is a low-cost technique that allows for the acquisition of cleaner water, particularly in impoverished places with non-potable water.

Individuals can simply filter their drinking water using sunshine and disposable water bottles thanks to solar disinfection technology.


Filling clear bottles with water and exposing them to direct sunshine for roughly six hours is required for the process. The use of vials made of materials other than polyethylene terephthalate (PET) considerably improves virus inactivation efficiency.


When the sun's UV rays penetrate the flask, they eliminate hazardous bacteria, viruses, and parasites in the water, rendering it safe for consumption. This low-cost technology has shown to be extremely effective in transforming dirty water sources into valuable resources without the use of costly filtering equipment or chemical additions.



Furthermore, technology-based solutions such as smart irrigation systems outfitted with sensors depending on soil moisture levels can optimize agricultural water distribution while conserving resources. This combination of ancient wisdom based on cultural norms and modern innovations provides an opportunity to handle water scarcity systematically and comprehensively, bringing resilience and long-term benefits to afflicted communities.

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