Ibb University Raises Awareness on  Environmental Issues [Archives:1998/44/Business & Economy]

November 2 1998

Organized by Ibb University, the “Scientific Symposium on the Environment in the Republic of Yemen” was held during October 24-25. The topics discussed were diverse touching on the role of local factors, the role of Yemeni universities in protecting the environment, environmental awareness within the public education system, urban expansion into rural areas, the role of the media, the effect of car transportation on the environment, evaluating drinking water in Hadhramaut, water pollution and sewage treatment, the effects of pesticides, desertification, and several other pertinent topics. 
Environmental problems are not new to this country. They are the result of tens of years of unregulated urban expansion, regardless of the serious threats to the environment. The rapid increase in consumerism in Yemen has disturbed the fine balance that used to exist between man and his environment in the past. The price – in terms of air, water and oil pollution and the exhaustion of natural resources – is quite high. 
In Yemen so far, this environmental crisis has been largely ignored. This has led to serious pollution, desertification, soil erosion, removal of the green cover, the extinction of various types of animal and plant species. 

Although, Yemen has no industrial base as such, the wave of urbanization, country-to-town migration, lack of planning, an unmonitored sanitation system have all led marked deterioration in the environment. 
There is an urgent need for environmental awareness among the populace. Despite the existence of the Environmental Protection Council, which includes representatives from various governmental and non-governmental bodies, lack of human and financial resources has made it difficult to do enough work to arrest pollution, let alone reversing it. 
Yemeni universities should play a bigger role in raising public awareness of environmental issues. Studies, lectures and seminars can be conducted in this field. Such activity is bound to create more understanding in evaluating the environmental situation in Yemen. The mass media has a comparable role to play. 
Pollution Definition 
The term pollution means introducing – by human beings – pollutant material into the environment, resulting in changes in the ecosystem. Pollution includes any sort of quantitative and/or qualitative changes in the animate and/or inanimate elements of the ecosystem that cannot be fully assimilated. Pollution can also be defined as the introduction into the environment of foreign organic and/or inorganic material. It results from human activity that changes the environment’s physical and chemical features and disturbs and its natural balance in a way detrimental to living creatures. 
Pollution & Pollutants in Yemen 
Petroleum production is one of the main sources of pollution in Yemen. The seeping of extra oil into the soil has harmed the environment. Industrial pollution is still somewhat limited in Yemen. Cement factories and open quarries constitute another source of pollution 
The haphazard use of pesticides and fertilizers has created numerous problems, both to the environment and to human health. 
A badly managed sanitation system causes microbiological pollution – sewage oozing into the underground aquifers and rubbish accumulating in the streets. 
1- Special plans should be formulated to protect the country’s environment and natural resources. 
2- More financial and moral support should be granted to NGOs working on environmental issues. 
3- Environmental scientific research should be included in the postgraduate programs at Yemeni universities, with the cooperation of the Environmental Protection Council. 
4- More support must be given to national tree-planting and desertification-combating programs. 
5- Studies should be conducted to identify various types of pollution in this country. This includes formulating national plans and strategies, specifying priorities, specifying the desired environmental attitude, and assigning special roles to the relevant organs. 
6- A special fund should be set up to support environmental research. 
7- The media should be directed to give more attention to environmental issues. 
8- Proposed industrial projects should include, in addition to an economic feasibility study, an environmental feasibility outline. 
9- More research must be conducted on the serious problem of desertification in Yemen. 
10- The government should provide at least the minimum level of suitable drinking water to all citizens. 
11- Sewage must be fully and safely treated, to be reused for agricultural purposes. 
12- Larger taxation should be imposed on water used for qat irrigation. 
13- Water projects must be compatible with world standards. 
14- More coordination should be introduced among public organs concerned with environmental issues. 
15- Customs authorities and other relevant bodies should impose stricter controls on the importation of refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment that uses Freon 11, 12, and 22 and other CFC gases. 
16- Strict monitoring must be imposed on the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. 
Ismail Al-Ghabiry, 
Yemen Times.