Water of the Middle East and North Africa

What Does the Future Hold for Water in Yemen?

Bab AL Yaman, water in Yemen
Photo 1: Bab AL Yaman (The door of Yemen), Sanaa, Yemen. ( Source: Oledoe , Flickr)

Overall conclusion with summary of positive and negative developments

Given the ongoing conflict in Yemen, the list below identifies some of the main issues that require immediate international attention and support:[1]

• Increasing the use of solar power for groundwater extraction and wastewater treatment;

• Developing and implementing integrated water management programmes; conserving water by reusing treated wastewater and grey water from mosques as well as introducing irrigation-saving techniques;

• Developing and implementing an awareness-raising campaign on adaptation to the potential impacts of climate change;

• Developing and implementing programmes to improve readiness to cope with extreme weather events;

• Harvesting rainwater using various techniques, including traditional methods;

• Rehabilitating and maintaining mountain terraces;

• Promoting research on drought-resistant and heat- and salt-tolerant crops;

• Designing and implementing sustainable land management strategies to combat desertification and land degradation.

Risk factors and problem areas

There are five key causes of Yemen’s water crisis: high population growth; misguided agricultural development and related policies; the use of water to grow qat; a lack of law enforcement to regulate water use; and a high vulnerability to climate change.[2]

Climate change, particularly, is drastically affecting Yemen’s water availability. The summary of the 2008 Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change came to the conclusion that the climate in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will become even hotter and drier.

Projected status of water resources in 2050

Based on FAO statistics and assumptions on population growth, the annual water demand in Yemen is predicted to increase incrementally by up to 120% by 2050.

Outline of long-term strategy

The National Water Sector Strategy and Investment Plan proposes a set of institutional, financial and other measures that are aimed at addressing discrepancies in the five subsectors in order to protect the interests of all stakeholders in the resources. Obviously, if the situation continues as it is without regulation of groundwater extraction and use, without reduction of the current unsustainable level of water resources use and without putting an end to the ongoing resource capture, then this will eventually harm everyone, including farmers, who will be the first victims of water exhaustion.[3]

[1] Glass N, 2010. ‘The water crisis in Yemen: Causes, consequences and solutions’. Global Majority E-Journal 1(1):17-30.
[2] Capodaglio A, 2017. Integrated, decentralized wastewater management for resource recovery in rural and peri-urban areas. Resources 6(2):1-22.
[3] Droogers P et al., 2012. Water resources trends in Middle East and North Africa towards 2050. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 16: 3101-3114