Solar power can safeguard the future for thousands of Yemeni children
05 September 2019
Nearly all schools in Yemen have no adequate sources of electricity, which prevents students from having access to safe water and sanitation services.
The long-armed conflict in Yemen has devastated the country’s already weak educational system, and two million children (a quarter of all school-aged children) are now out of school.
Electricity does not exist in many parts of the country and this disrupts services and increases the suffering of people. Nearly all schools in Yemen have no adequate sources of electricity, which prevents students from having access to safe water and sanitation services in a country that had the worst cholera outbreak in recorded history with over 1 million cases, more than half of which were children.
The absence of electricity also limits students’ access to other educational sources like laboratories.
Sarah Mohsen, an 11-year-old student in Khadija Bint Khuwaylid School, is one of thousands of students who suffer from the lack of electricity in the school, especially during summer, where the temperature rises significantly, and it becomes difficult to stay inside the classroom.
"I love to go to school and I have a dream of completing a university degree. But the heat waves that come during summer prevent me and many of my classmates from going to school. We cover ourselves with this herbal mix to protect our skin from the heat and sunburns. The classroom fan doesn’t work because there is no electricity. I remember once I couldn’t complete an exam because it was too hot inside the class,” Sarah said. But after electricity was extended to her school thanks to a joint solar energy system project, she said her grades have improved. “We are now able to go to school and I enjoy studying with my friends.”
The World Bank Group’s International Development Association through the Yemen Emergency Electricity Access Project is working with the United Nations Office for Project Services to install solar energy systems in schools and other key public facilities to provide reliable and affordable access to clean water, adequate lighting, and other amenities for communities affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis in areas where fuel and electricity supply are either nonexistent or too expensive to obtain.
The first 21 schools in Al Dhale, Lahej, Abyan, Dhamar, Mahweet, Taiz and Sanaa governorates are being connected to solar power at the moment. Overall, 159 schools across 17 governorates of Yemen have already selected to receive a solar installation so far, and several hundreds more will be supported in the course of the project, eventually covering all governorates of Yemen.
As there is no public electricity source for these communities at the moment, the power generated from solar panels is bringing water consistently into schools’ tanks.
The project not only provides sufficient lighting for children at school, but it has encouraged more students, especially girls, to attend school as they have improved the physical environment from stuffy, hot class rooms to enable them to interact with each other.
This solar power project aims at increasing resilience in rural areas where 70% of Yemen’s population lives, and seeks to address the current development crisis by restoring electricity supplies to vital facilities like hospitals, schools, and water companies, while also addressing the economic, social and environmental impact of energy.
At least 1,340,000 people are expected to benefit from this solar energy project, along with 400 health facilities and 800 schools. Moreover, the project will reduce carbon emissions by 430,000 tons of CO2 and contribute to meeting Yemen’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement.