Sanitation services limited, sewage treatment plants poor [Archives:2008/1139/Local News]

March 20 2008

SANA'A, March 15 (IRIN) ) Sanitation services in Yemen are limited. Almost all villages in rural areas, where 75 percent of Yemen's 21 million people live, still use traditional means: Sewage is either dumped in watercourses or piped onto open ground.

According to the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report 2007-8, 43 percent of the population used improved sanitation, implying connection to a public sewer, connection to a septic tank system, pour-flush latrines, simple pit latrines or ventilated improved pit latrines.

The UNDP figures indicate an improvement over recent years: The official 2004 population census showed that only 15.9 percent of Yemeni households had access to a sanitary network (implying piped sewage only). Of the houses not connected to sanitation networks, 26.8 percent had covered holes for gathering excreta, 16.6 percent had uncovered holes, and 37.1 percent had nothing.

Officials at the Ministry of Water and Environment said the government was striving to improve sanitation services, but lacked funds.

Saleh al-Hakimi, a senior adviser with the German Society for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) office in Yemen, said Yemen was unlikely to achieve the water and sanitation Millennium Development Goal (MDG – halving the proportion of people without access to safe water and sanitation by 2015) unless significant further efforts were made. “The government of Yemen is making efforts to provide sanitation services but these efforts are not sufficient,” he said