Empowering Access to Water with Solar Power in Yemen

A solution was shining down on the community of Jayshan

Abyan, Jayshan — As a general rule of thumb, you can survive without water for about three days. In the sun-washed community of Jayshan, this is precisely how long 6,500 people had to wait to get water: once every three days. 

Surprisingly, there is plenty of water in Jayshan. The water system flows from a well, drilled 35 years ago, that has not run dry. However, the main problem is the cost of getting this water to people. More specifically, the cost of powering the pump that supplies water to the residents of Jayshan.  

When the water system was originally built, a diesel-powered water pump was installed. In Jayshan, diesel is scarce and expensive.  So expensive, in fact, the local committee managing their water system had to cut the hours of pumping to 6-7 hours per day, divide the community into five ‘water’ areas, and restrict access to water—once every three days— for residents living in each area.

"The war in Yemen, resulted in Jayshan being deprived of functioning water services. However, with USAID’s support, the entire district now has access to sustainable water services," said Sheikh Ahmed Awadh Ahmed, District Manager of Jayshan.

As a result of water rationing, residents reported buying water from private sources. Those who could not afford to buy water said they collected untreated water from local streams. Often, women and children were sent to fetch water from streams, exposing them to water borne diseases.

Fortunately, a solution was shining down on the community of Jayshan. On a typical day, the sun shines more than 8 hours. On average, there are only 2 or 3 rainy days a month. In other words, it would be hard to find a more ideal location to build a solar-powered water system.

With USAID’s support, the local community was engaged through the Yemen Community Stronger Together Program (YCST) to solve the water access problem. A community enhancement committee (CEC) was set-up to analyze the situation and develop a detailed plan of action. With USAID funding, the Jayshan Water Supply Enhancement Project was launched.

Contractors working on this project installed a solar energy system to power a new energy efficient water pump and increased the capacity of the stone reservoir to 300,000 to 350,000 liters of potable water. As a result of these improvements, 6,500 residents living in Jayshan now receive water directly at their homes—about 52 to 54 liters per day per resident—well above the minimum SPHERE standard of 30 liters per day per person. As well, 2,560 people living in the surrounding areas will benefit from improved water supply to medical and educational facilities.

YCST supports local-level initiatives that mitigate conflict, strengthen social cohesion, and promote the peaceful resolution of differences. Since its launch in 2018, YCST has engaged communities in projects, initiatives and activities that are expected to benefit 397,160 people and help lay the foundation for a peaceful and effective transition process in Yemen.