Plan for reconstructing Hadramout [Archives:2009/1225/Front Page]

January 15 2009

By: Khaled Al-Hilaly
HADRAMOUT, Jan. 14 ) The reconstruction process of the residences destroyed by the floods in October last year is to start by mid February 2009, said Salem Al-Khanbashi governor of Hadramout.

Marinating the Hadrami architectural style, foundations of the new houses will be designed to resist future disasters, and the locations were chosen in relatively high places out of the floods' natural paths.

Latest statistics by the governorate indicated that about at least 4,500 houses were destroyed totally or partially by the floods.

“Each new residence will be a one story house built on an area of 625 square meters. The houses will include four rooms, three bathrooms, a kitchen and a small yard. Large families will receive an extra piece of land adjacent to their new home on which they can build extra premises in the future,” he said.

Many victims of the flood are currently living with relatives; and 1111 families who could not be accommodated as such, were provided rented apartments by the Popular Committee of Hadramout's Businessmen. A third group found refuge in the vacant homes of Yemenis living abroad.

The government had established a reconstruction fund in Nov. last year for areas affected by the floods in the provinces of Hadramout and Al-Mahrah, which were the most affected areas by the floods in eastern region of Yemen.

“Only one room of our home was not destroyed by the continuous rain, and we gathered in that room until conditions permitted and we were able to move to a nearby school along with many of our neighbors. The businessmen committee provided us with an apartment until now,” said Saleh Al-Amari a local in Hadramout and a victim of the flood.

Local authorities gave victims of the flood application forms by which they can reclaim new residences when the reconstruction project is completed.

The World Bank's initial estimates of the damage to infrastructure and shelter was roughly calculated at $525-720 million, not including the significant resources (another $200 or so million) that are needed to build effective flood protection systems in the vulnerable areas of the Wadi Hadramout and in Mukalla city.

The damages

As of October 31, 2008, over 4,600 houses and another 2,000 huts in both Hadramout and Al-Mahara governorates were totally or substantially damaged, leading to as many as 25,000 internally displaced persons, according to the World Bank in Yemen. In addition, 73 persons were reported to have lost their lives as a result of the flooding, 30 people were missing and scores have been injured.

The floods' impact on agricultural land and people's livelihoods has been particularly devastating. It is feared that as much as 700,000 persons (representing over 50 percent of the population of Hadramout Governorate) have had their livelihoods destroyed or significantly affected.

Some 500,000 palm trees were reportedly uprooted. In addition, livestock losses exceeded 36,000 heads (camels, goats and cows) and some 60,000 beehives producing the renowned Hadramout honey were reportedly destroyed.

The international community is responding with support to help Yemen cope with this catastrophe, in effect the largest flood to have hit the country since the 1996 floods that have destroyed 1,820 homes and killed 338 persons.

Back ground

Between Oct. 23-25, 2008, Yemen was faced with heavy sustained rains as a result of a level-three tropical storm that hit the country. The storm caused widespread flooding in several locations in the two eastern Governorates of Hadramout and Al-Mahara (estimated 2008 population of 1,300,000 and 100,000 respectively), leading them to be the two most heavily affected areas. The storm and floods led to devastating consequences, including 73 dead persons, 17 missing persons, scores of injuries.