Quick impact projects have a long-term effect on cholera in Yemen

UNICEF and its partners have rehabilitated sanitation networks in cholera high-risk districts of Aden and Sana'a.

As soon as rain falls, the narrow streets of the poor neighborhood of Dar Sad in Aden are flooded with muddy water. Zakaria and his friends are used to it and it doesn’t stop them from playing barefoot among the rubbish by the precarious sewer drain, walking on the wooden boards displayed by the residents to cross the street.

“I have two children,” says Mohamed Ahmed Awad, a 52-year-old resident of Dar Sad district, “and it’s been years that we are all suffering the consequences of the open sewage. We get infected from cholera and other diseases,” continues Mohamed while cleaning the street in front of his house. “Sometimes, I cannot get out in the street, we are not able to cross it because of the waste water,” says Maram Bashir, a young girl of 13 years old, who also lives in Dar Sad district.

In Yemen, more than four years of ravaging conflict have left sanitation and water systems either damaged or non-functional.

Access to health services and water points has deteriorated, leading to increased caseloads of cholera. From January to June 2019 alone, there have been 439,812 suspected cases of cholera, with 695 associated deaths. Children under five and elderly people represent the most vulnerable populations when exposed to water-borne diseases.

As part of its integrated cholera response, UNICEF works closely with the local water authorities to scale up cholera prevention and response activities, including through the Rapid Response Teams and sanitation Quick Impact Projects (QIPs). So far this year, over 8 million people have been reached with water, sanitation and hygiene cholera response and preventative interventions across Yemen in high-risks areas.

These projects have a great impact of the lives of children and their families living in informal settlements, who are particularly exposed to sanitation risks. Most are not connected to public networks or have unemptied cesspits, leading to open sewage and worsening health outcomes for vulnerable populations. Through the QIPs, UNICEF is repairing and rehabilitating sanitation systems and networks in urban and peri-urban areas, improving access to safe water and sanitation services for vulnerable families.

A total of 350,000 people directly benefited from the QIPs in high-risk districts in Aden and Sana’a since the beginning of the year.

These QIPs are directly supported by the European Commission, through its Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, which is a key partner of UNICEF in Yemen in particular in cholera response and emergency WASH assistance for vulnerable children and their communities.

kids are playing in the streets
Zakaria and his friends playing in the streets of Dar Sad district in Aden, Yemen, before the implementation of the QIP project.

“Through these short-term projects, that we implement hand in hand with our local partners, we can quickly improve the access to sanitation services and prevent cholera from spreading further.”

Maysoun Alhaj Omar, UNICEF WASH Specialist

UNICEF WASH Specialist is talking to the children
UNICEF WASH Specialist Maysoun Alhaj Omar talks to the children about their living conditions in a high-risk district of Sana’a during a pre-QIP assessment visit.


A girl is trying hard to cross through the sewage drain
Etidal Abdullah Saleh, 5 years old, is trying hard to cross through the sewage drain next to her house in Dar Sad district, Aden.

“I am supervising the cleaning team and we work hard together to repair the sewage systems and improve the living conditions of the people.” 

Engineer Abdulrahman Hassan Borsama

An Engineer leads the rehabilitation works of the sanitation
Engineer Abdulrahman Hassan Borsama leads the rehabilitation works of the sanitation system in Azal district in Sana’a which is a high-risk cholera area.
team is pulling out the waste from the sanitation system
In Sana’a, Abdulrahman’s team is pulling out the waste from the sanitation system, thanks to vehicles and pipes.
Workers are installing new sanitation pipes
Workers are installing new sanitation pipes in Dar Saad district in Aden within the sanitation project implementation supported by UNICEF and the European Union.

“We were suffering a lot from the sewage leek. Most of our neighbors got infected by cholera and other diseases.”

Shawqi Jameel

Shawqi Jameel
Shawqi Jameel,15 years old, lives in Dar Saad district of Aden.
Children will be able to play football in the street
Soon, Hani, Hamed and their friends will be able to play football in the street, thanks to the repair of the sanitation system in their neighborhood.
Written by
Marie Bracquemont
Reports Officer for Donor Visibility and Recognition
Marie Bracquemont
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Children’s Fund