Four girls drown in Al-Dhale’ while fetching water [Archives:2008/1172/Local News]

July 14 2008

Fuad Mus'ed
For the Yemen Times

AL-DHALE', July 13 – Four girls died last Thursday in a small dam located in Al-Azariq district southwest of Al-Dhale' governorate. According to district residents, the four girls were taken to the hospital in Al-Dhale' city where they died shortly afterwards.

Local sources in the area said the girls – Jamila Qayed, Khadijah Hassan, Bushra Hassan and Firdous Sufian, all between the ages of 11 and 13 – fell into the small dam while trying to fetch water from the small dam, which was built by an area resident. One of the girls began drowning and when the others tried to save her, they also drowned as a result of their attempt.

Al-Azariq district already has witnessed similar events, as eight other girls have drowned in various small dam in the past. A few weeks ago, the same fate befell three other girls while they were fetching water from a deep-water well in the area.

With some 45,000 residents, the district suffered drought for many years. Despite residents' continuing appeals to the government to help them, the situation continues. The government recently dug 12 more wells, but residents allege that they found no water in any except one.

According to Ibrahim Ali Naji, a teacher in Al-Azariq district, the government recently constructed several small dams and small dam, but they haven't helped because they were created without planning or prior studies regarding their benefits to locals.

“For example, the government built a dam in Al-Nakhilah district. While it's the largest dam in the area, it has affected the quantity of water in all of the other dams. As a result, residents were obliged to open it in order to supply the other dams with water,” Naji explains.

One district council member says the council discussed the water shortage and decided to establish several water projects to end residents' suffering. However, the financial budget allocated for these projects “wasn't accredited by the government as it usually is with all other projects in the area,” the member noted, adding, “The government demanded the budget be provided by the district's local revenues, which cannot cover even the minimum level of needs.” The governorate's only hospital, Al-Dhale' Public Hospital, is congested with patients, most of whom are from Al-Azariq district. Doctors say the main causes of diseases and epidemics spreading throughout that area, particularly among children, relate to the contaminated water residents are obliged to drink due to the drought and lack of government projects to provide them potable water.