Figures warning of Sana’a water depletion [Archives:2004/796/Community]

December 6 2004

Hassan Al-Zaidi
Workshop that's concerned with raising media and community awareness about managing water in Sana'a was launched last Wednesday.
In the workshop, Eng. Mohammed Sa'ad Harmal, Manager of the Sana'a Basin Water Management Project (SBWMP), showed that the death bell is tolling threatening all people living in Sana'a of death of thirst.
Sana'a population is now about 1.8 million people of whom a million people are living in the capital city and the rest are in the villages around it. The underground water was estimated to be 2-3 billion cubic meters and this quantity is available in three divisions. The people in Sana'a annually consume nearly 250 million cubic meters, 80% of that is used in agriculture (of which the majority is used for irrigating qat) and 20% is consumed in daily use and industry.
Nevertheless, the water basin is gradually running out. This is considered a danger especially within the 12 -15 coming years, since there is no new provision of underground water.
Even though SBWMP aims to decrease the huge consumption of water in the basin and to increase the usability of basins, the strategies that are implemented do not curb the threat of the imminent catastrophe that poses an actual danger basically to the farmers. All that is not expected to annually maintain more than 11 million cubic meters of water.
The project that was presented by Harmal recommends building four or five new dams and repairing 11 old ones. That would not, of course, compensate for the provision of the basin with new water; it will however preserve 1.2 million cubic meters in a year.
Eng. Ebrahim al-Hamdi, Deputy Minister of Water and Environment, confirms the necessity of the public understanding of the issue of water and particularly bearing in minds that Yemen in of the poorest countries in terms of the ground water resources. It is not the issue of the government only but even of the community, from the top of the pyramid to the bottom.
The solutions that may be applied will not solve the problem: it is possible to bring water for drinking from Wadi Surdod but it is not possible for a farmer to buy water for irrigating his farm.
Every farmer should know that 60% of the water he consumes in irrigating his farm is wasted in vain. The modern strategies of irrigation maintain more than building dams, and irrigation at night does so.
This campaign came at the time the Parliament is discussing the law of rationalizing the consumption of water in Sana'a preparing for issuing it after bringing about important referendums.
The governor of Sana'a spoke in the workshop saying that “we will die of thirst unless we realize this threat. We believe in studies and when each person believes in that he/she will understand the danger.”
Many working papers were discussed in the workshop including the paper presented by the UNICEF, Social Development Fund and other papers that aimed to raise media awareness about the rationalization of water consumption in Sana'a basin.