Yemen faces water crisis

Rising water price hits Yemenis, shortage may become bigger problem than war. Prices reached 10,000 Yemen rials ($47) for a four cubic metre tank of water

Yemen faces water crisis

World Bulletin / News Desk 

The price of water is rising steeply in Yemen, which may run out of water for its 25 million people, experts say, adding to the misery caused by Arab air strikes and the civil war ravaging one of the world's poorest and driest countries.

Most of the gas-powered pumps providing water are now inoperable, and water from those that still work doesn't come cheap.

"Ordinary Yemenis now pay more than 30 percent of their income just to get water in their houses, the highest rate in the world," said Abdulkhaleq Alwan, a senior expert at Yemen's water and environment ministry.

Prices have more than tripled since March, reaching 10,000 Yemen rials ($47) for a four cubic metre tank of water, Alwan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from Sanaa.

The price of water has risen so steeply because the price of diesel used to pump water from the wells, and that of petrol to run the trucks, has gone through the roof, Alwan said.

"The well owners can barely afford to buy diesel on the black market because of the crazy prices, sometimes around $100 for 20 litres of diesel," while petrol costs around $40 for 20 litres on the black market, he said.

The only alternative for water truck owners is to queue for three to four days to buy fuel more cheaply from petrol stations, he said.

In a country where more than half the population lives on less than $2 a day, some simply can't afford to buy water at all.

"Poor families in both urban and rural areas are absolutely unable to purchase clean and safe water at such prices and therefore started to fetch water in cans on their heads," Alwan said.

In some cities and suburban areas, including the capital Sanaa with its two million people, wealthy residents pay water well owners and drivers to deliver water for free to poor areas, where women and children, who are usually responsible for fetching water, can fill their containers.

But as prices keep rising, Yemenis may before long have to accept that their water supply is running out - though no one knows exactly when the wells will dry up.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Haziran 2015, 10:32