Jaadan cistern rehabilitation kicks off [Archives:2006/951/Local News]

June 1 2006

AMRAN, May 30 ) The Jaadan cistern rehabilitation project was inaugurated in Amran governorate's historic town of Thula. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding the $60,000 rehabilitation.

Amran Gov. Taha Hajir, U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Thomas Krajeski, Deputy Minister of Water and Environment Mohammed Al-Hamdi and a host of local Yemeni officials attended the inauguration.

Thula cistern is 700 years old. The “new” cistern has a traditional filter system and five hand-pumps enabling users to fetch water easily.

Like many Yemeni mountain villages, Thula harvests rainwater in cisterns for household water use, which allows the community to make the best use of scarce water resources. However, rainwater can become contaminated as it flows through collection channels into the cistern. Also, water stored in open cisterns can become spoiled from animal waste, trash and dirt from clothing, shoes, hands and buckets as women and children collect water.

USAID is sponsoring rehabilitation of Jaadan Cistern, the town's main cistern. The cistern renovation plan carefully considered the town's historical and cultural importance, by using mainly natural stone materials and the traditional “qadad” plastering method. The contractor selected for the project has a long family tradition of using qadad and is an expert in the special techniques required for its proper application.

The cistern renovation is part of a series of community-based environmental health interventions funded through USAID's Partners for Health Reform project. USAID's environmental health program components were designed via consultations and focus groups conducted with community and local council members in Thula district. Additionally, the project surveyed 269 households in 12 villages to determine local knowledge and practices related to water, sanitation and hygiene.

A locally elected project oversight committee composed of five men and five women will work with the local council to raise community members' awareness, including children, about their role in keeping the cistern clean and assuring its maintenance.