New warnings over water shortage in Yemen [Archives:2005/886/Health]

October 17 2005

SANA'A-Oct.8- Warnings of water shortage in a number of governorates over the depletion of water following the increase in lands planted with qat.

The arbitrary increase in drawing of water exceeds feeding by140%.

According to Sana'a University Center for Water and Environment Research, the basins of Sana'a, Taiz and Saada are on top of the threatened areas, because the feeding is only one third of the amount that is being drawn.

In its last issue, Official Al-wahda newspaper, reported that Dr. Taha Alariqi said that the shortage in Sana'a basin is now 350%, as the rate of water being drawn is 182 million cubic meters/ annum. However the rate of rain- water feeding is only 82 millions cubic meters. This resulted in an annual drop of water level by6-8 meters.

The shortage in water reserve in Saada reached 1000%. The estimated drawn amount in Saada basin, is 65 million cubic meters, whereas the rainwater feeding doesn't exceed 6.5 cubic meters. The annual drop in water level is estimated to be 8-6 meters.

Taiz water basin came third in water shortage. The loss rate is 210%. Water level is going down. Drilling increases by 2-6 meters each year.

Rada'a, Wadi Moor, Tihamah Wadi Zabeed and Amran basins come consecutively in order of water depletion.

The Yemeni Central Statistics organization (CSO) said last year that the rate of Yemeni citizens accessible to dirking water is 38%. Alariqi says that 'The rate of those accessible to drinking water is 50%, including those who use pools and springs which are often contaminated.' Ariqqi added that 70% of the populations are in the rural areas where sanitation services are only17%.

The Water and Environment Center in Sana'a University owed the water shortage to arbitrary water drawing in addition to rarity in rainfall whose average is 200 mm in Yemen.

Dr. Ariqi said that the Capital Secretariat need for water will increase to 441million cubic meters by 2010. Dr. Alariqi warned of the process of re-injection of water into the basins for fear of polluting them, taking in consideration what happened in Masilah basin, whose reserve exceeds 3 milliards cubic meters.

Alariqi also warned of the increase in qat planning which covers 25% of the irrigated areas.

He said that the area of qat plantation is 8.0000 hectars.It is one of the most fertile areas. Sana'a occupies 44% of these lands and a rate of 55.4% of annual water consumption. Grape planting comes next, covering 39% of the cultivated areas and a water consumption rate of 30%.

50.000 are employed in qat planting which constitutes 16% of the working force in Yemen. Dr.Alariqi called for an alternative for these working forces. He called for the rapid application of the so called national strategy for water.