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Which Water Sources Do People Revert to in Times of War? Evidence from the Sana’a Basin, Yemen


Current war in Yemen affects the lives of Yemenis, their properties, and basic needs through several impacts and damages on fuel, electricity, and water systems. This paper investigates how this war has affected the people’s main water sources. The war impact framework developed in this study is the combination of difference-in-difference (DID) and Human Rights to Water and Sanitation (HRWS) framework, as so far there are no tools to gage the impact of wars on people’s choices of water sources. The availability, accessibility, and prices of water keep unstable. Decentralized systems of water and energy showed more stability than public-centralized systems. The majority of families relied on the public water and electricity systems before the war. Now, while the war is ongoing the public water networks and electricity grids serve not more than 10% of families. Solar energy has become the first energy source. Rainwater started to be collected as secondary water source. Getting water and energy through renewable sources is accepted and supported by locals. Many people are willing to continue using these new sources. This study verifies the importance of renewable resources transition to achieve secure sustainable water management.

Article Highlights

  • The current war in Yemen affects water sources; in terms of water availability, accessibility, quality, affordability, and accessibility.

  • Decentralized community-based systems showed more resilience than public-centralized systems.

  • People go back to use renewable source of rainwater harvesting.

  • People expressed their willingness to continue using sustainable sources of rainwater and solar energy.

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After (Alwathaf and El Mansouri 2012)

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Source: Pomeranz 2017

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  1. 1.

    Using geometric method: Pt= P0 (1 + r)t, where P0 is the initial population and Pt is the population t years later and r is the annual growth rate (5.5% in urban and 3.2% in rural areas of Sana’a basin) _ P0 = P2004 as in Population census 2004. Source of data Central Statistical Agency (YCSA), Yemen.

  2. 2.

    Piped government network, local, private and cooperation networks.

  3. 3.

    1 US$ equivalent to 215 YR as pre-crisis exchange rate and 350 YR as official exchange rate (more than 600 YR in black market).

  4. 4.

    1 US$ equivalent to 215 YR as pre-crisis exchange rate and 350 YR as official exchange rate (more than 600 YR in black market).

  5. 5.

    SFD: is an active public institution, established by Law No. 10 of 1997 to contribute to achieve national social and economic development plans for poverty reduction (DPPRs) and to encourage innovative and participatory approaches to delivering demand-driven social services. For more information:

  6. 6.

    SFD targets the most water-scarce areas, which are usually rural areas away from public/private services. In urban areas of the Sana’a basin they have only a number of ferrocement rainwater harvesting systems in 11 public schools and for training purposes.

  7. 7.

    Siqyat: (singular siqaya) are roofed techniques. They are commonly built partly below ground with the roof showing above ground. A single Siqya, being implemented by SFD, is usually for a single household.

  8. 8.

    LICFWP: aimed to increase the assets of the targeted, in need and vulnerable communities and alleviate poverty and unemployment through providing temporary job/fund opportunities for the skilled and semi-skilled local labors_

  9. 9.

    Kuruf/karifis (s. karif) are big ponds or roofless man-made cisterns. This pond-type of storage structure is generally formed by damming a simple low-land area and diverting runoff into it from the surrounding areas.

  10. 10.

    Birak (singular birkah) are another roofless system, usually underground and smaller than the kuruf ponds.

  11. 11.

    Niqab (singular Noqbah) are underground, roofed and handmade cisterns.

  12. 12.

    Majel (plural mawajel) is the common name given, in the north-western areas of the highland zone of Yemen—sad (dam).

  13. 13.

    A khazzan (plural khazzanat) is a roofless modern storage system.


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Correspondence to Musaed M. Aklan.

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Aklan, M.M., de Fraiture, C. & Hayde, L.G. Which Water Sources Do People Revert to in Times of War? Evidence from the Sana’a Basin, Yemen. Int J Environ Res 13, 623–638 (2019).

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  • Water sources
  • War impact
  • Renewable resources
  • Rainwater harvesting