Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

2.5 Million in Yemen Have No Clean Water as World's Worst Single-Year Cholera Epidemic Threatens to Spread

Health + Wellness

The capital Sanaa and al-Bayda are now among the growing list of cities without access to clean water in Yemen after the Saudi-led blockade cut off supplies of fuel used for pumping.

On Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirmed that some 2.5 million Yemenis lack access to clean water. This latest development adds the capital to a long list of cities whose water infrastructure is crippled by blockade and war.


Without fuel to pump water into Yemen's densely populated cities, 2.5 million are "at risk of another major outbreak of water-borne disease," Iolanda Jaquemet, an ICRC spokeswoman, told Reuters.

Yemen passed beyond a public health nightmare months ago. Since April 2017, some 940,768 people have been infected with cholera, a water-borne disease, making it the world's worst epidemic in a single year. Dysentery and other water-borne diseases are rampant as well.

"Today, Sanaa and al-Bayda joined the list," Jaquemet said to Reuters, meaning these two cities are now facing the same risks as Saada, Taiz and Hodeidah—three cities that ran out of clean water on Friday, according to the ICRC.

"The water and sewage systems in Hodeidah, Saada and Taiz stopped operating because of a lack of fuel," Alexandre Faite, the ICRC's head of delegation in Yemen, said in a press release. "As a result, close to one million people are now deprived of clean water and sanitation in crowded urban environments in a country slowly emerging from the worst cholera outbreak in modern times."

Sanaa's already deteriorated water network completely halted quicker than expected. Last Friday, the ICRC was warning that Sanaa's clean water crisis would reach a zenith in two weeks. Sanaa's water infrastructure, which has been subjected to airstrikes and blockade, was brought to a trickle within two days, making the city an even more fertile ground for water-borne diseases.

In 2015, a Saudi-led coalition, with U.S.-backing, began its intervention in Yemen after rebels, known as the Houthis, captured the capital in 2014. The rebel faction, which receives limited Iranian support, stands in the way of Saudi ambitions to install a pro-Saudi government in its southern neighbor's capital. The Houthi rebels still control Sanaa, the capital, and large swaths of northern Yemen. Thousands of civilians have been killed in ongoing airstrikes since 2015.

A recent study found that airstrikes and blockades were targeting the "environmental infrastructure" of Yemen. In terms of water, this means that even before the latest tightening of the Saudi-directed blockade, 9.8 million civilians had lost access to water due to fuel shortages and restriction to transport. Airstrikes, artillery and rocket attacks destroyed water systems serving at last 900,000, according to the U.N.

Food security in Yemen is equally dire. As the blockade tightens, Yemenis—who rely on imports for nearly 90 percent of their food—now face even greater food shortages. Nearly 17 million people in Yemen live in a state of chronic food insecurity—roughly two-thirds of the country's population.

Kelsey Mueller, 16, pets Ruby while waiting with her family to be escorted from the evacuation zone at the Shaver Lake Marina parking lot off of CA-168 during the Creek Fire on Sept. 7, 2020 in Shaver Lake, California. Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times / Getty Images

By Daisy Simmons

In a wildfire, hurricane, or other disaster, people with pets should heed the Humane Society's advice: If it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your animals either.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The growing Texas solar industry is offering jobs to unemployed oil and gas professionals. King Lawrence / Getty Images

The growing Texas solar industry is offering a safe harbor to unemployed oil and gas professionals amidst the latest oil and gas industry bust, this one brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A 2019 Basel Convention amendment targeting plastic waste exports went into effect on Jan. 1. Boris Horvat / AFP / Getty Images

This month, a new era began in the fight against plastic pollution.

Read More Show Less
Reindeers at their winter location in northern Sweden on Feb. 4, 2020, near Ornskoldsvik. JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP via Getty Images

Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.

Read More Show Less
The Great Lakes, including Lake Michigan, experienced some of their warmest temperatures on record in the summer of 2020. Ken Ilio / Moment / Getty Images

Heatwaves are not just distinct to the land. A recent study found lakes are susceptible to temperature rise too, causing "lake heatwaves," The Independent reported.

Read More Show Less