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Yemen is part of:
Arab States · Middle East · Western Asia ·
Water Basins of Yemen:
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Facts & Figures edit
Capital Sanaá
Neighbouring Countries Oman, Saudi Arabia
Total Area 527,970 km2
  - Water 0 km2 (0.00%) / 0 m2/ha
  - Land 527,970 km2
Coastline 1,906 km
Population 20,974,660 (40 inhab./km2)
HDIA 0.567 (2007)
Gini CoefficientA 33.4 (1995)
Nominal GDPB $27,560 million
GDP (PPP) Per CapitaB $2,600
Land UseC
  - Cultivated Land 16,684 km2 (3.16%)
     - Arable 15,364 km2 (2.91%)
     - Permanent Crops 1,320 km2 (0.25%)
     - Irrigated 5,500 km2
  - Non cultivated 511,286 km2 (96.84%)
Average Annual RainfallD 167 mm
Renewable Water ResourcesE 4.1 km3
Water WithdrawalsF 6.63 km3/yr
  - For Agricultural Use 95%
  - For Domestic Use 4%
  - For Industrial Use 1%
  - Per Capita 370 m3 m3
Population with safe access to
  - Improved Water Source 67%
     - Urban population 71%
     - Rural population 65%
  - Improved Sanitation 43%
     - Urban population 86%
     - Rural population 28%
References & Remarks
A UNDP Human Development Report
B CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia
C CIA World Factbook Country Profiles
D Aquastat - FAO's Information System on Water and Agriculture
E CIA World Factbook
F Earthtrends

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> Sector Assessment | Sector Coordination | Donor Profile

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Country Profile: Climate, Geography, Socio-Economic Context

Country Profile: Water Bodies and Resources

Yemen has a semi-arid to arid climate and faces a crisis in terms of water supply and water quality. Annual rainfall ranges from 67 to 93 cubic kilometers. The country has no permanent rivers; surface water is available from seasonal spate water and springs. High runoff and heavy rainfall in mountainous areas create deep wadis and form water basins. The country has four major drainage basins: the Red Sea Basin, the Gulf of Aden Basin, the Arabian Sea Basin, and the Rub Al Khali Interior Basin. Yemen has annual renewable water resources of 2.1 cubic kilometers. Withdrawals are exceeding renewable resources by 36%.

Degradation of Yemen’s watersheds, caused by deforestation of upper watersheds, overgrazing, and changes in land use, negatively affect the quality and quantity of water.Yemen has one of the lowest per capita water availability rates in the world: 150 cubic meters per person per year (compared to 1250 cubic meters in the Middle East/North Africa region), and the amount of available water per capita and access to piped water is decreasing. Competition for water for domestic and industrial use is increasing as the population grows and is increasingly urbanized. Ninety percent of Yemen’s water withdrawal is used for agriculture, 8% for domestic use, and 2% for industry. Irrigation efficiency is low, between 35% and 45% depending on field leveling and the water conveyance system used. Only half the urban population has access to public water supply systems. Less than half of the rural population has access to safe drinking water.

Tenure Issues

Landowners have rights to surface and ground water. Landowners with financial resources can create deep tube wells on their land and sell the water extracted from deep aquifers to neighbors and remote purchasers. Landowners with spring-irrigated land can divert the water, creating a “turn” in the natural flow of water for their use or for resale.

In many areas of the country, new technology (enabling the diversion of larger quantities of water upstream, thereby denying downstream users altogether, or uncontrolled drilling that depletes groundwater reserves) has increasingly undermined traditional principles of water management and water management systems, resulting in inequitable distribution of water. In some areas, local traditional systems of dispute resolution are less effective because traditional leaders who serve as mediators and adjudicators lack neutrality or the perception of neutrality. Traditional leaders in some areas have become large commercial farmers and are themselves significant consumers of groundwater.

Rural women and children pay the price for the increasing scarcity of water in Yemen. Trucked water commands high fees that are beyond the means of poor families. Women and children travel long distances, often at night, to fetch water from distant wells.

Country Profile: Legal and Institutional Environment

Legal Framework

The Constitution provides that surface and groundwater resources are communal property. Yemen’s Water Law No. 33 was ratified in 2002. The law promotes the sustainable use of water, protects water resources from overexploitation, and balances the water needs of the various communities and sectors. The law has been under reformulation since its enactment and does not appear to be enforced.

As a practical matter, Islamic and customary principles of water management govern in most of Yemen. These principles hold that: (1) water is an ownerless resource that can be appropriated by those who develop the resource (e.g., sinking a well); (2) upstream riparians have priority; (3) water cannot be alienated from the land; (4) wells must be spaced a certain distance; and (5) no one can deny drinking water to another person.

Institutional Framework

The Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) was established in 2003 and is legislatively responsible for water resource planning and monitoring, drafting legislation, and building public awareness. In practice the Ministry’s authority extends only to urban areas. Subsectors of the Ministry include the National Water Resources Authority (NWASA), General Rural Water Authority, and Environmental Protection Authority. The Ministry of Local Administration is responsible for water supply and sanitation in rural areas. The Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation is responsible for policies on irrigation, crops, livestock, and forestry.

Government Reforms, Interventions and Investments

Yemen’s National Water Strategy (1999) and National Irrigation Strategy (2001) include plans for ensuring the sustainability of the country’s water resources, increasing the productivity of irrigated agricultural land, and reducing governmental involvement and relying more on user groups to manage the resource.

Country Profile: Water Sector Coordination

See Sector coordination sub-page for detailed description

Country Profile: Trends in Water Use, Management and Sanitation

Country Profile: Challenges and Opportunities

Yemen’s water quality is deteriorating. Groundwater contamination is pervasive due to industrial and residential waste and seepage of wastewater. Shallow aquifers are becoming polluted and coastal aquifers subject to saline intrusion. Groundwater used in public water supplies is not filtered. Well-water is contaminated with viruses and bacteria. In the poorest neighborhoods and villages, outbreaks of waterborne disease such as cholera, bacterial dysentery, typhoid, and infectious hepatitis are common. Seventy percent of infant mortality is due to waterborne diseases.

Donor Interventions and Investments

The World Bank, GTZ, USAID, UNDP, the Netherlands, and other donors have begun a US $90 million five-year (2009–2014) grant project to support the government’s implementation of the National Water Sector Strategy and Investment Program to: (1) strengthen institutions for sustainable water resources management; (2) improve community based water resource management; (3) increase access to water supply and sanitation services; (4) increase returns to water use in agriculture; and (5) stabilize and reduce groundwater extraction for agricultural use in critical water basins.


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Projects and Case Studies

Projects in or about Yemen

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  3. Improving institutional capacities to promote and secure sustainable water and sanitation management ‎(2,227 views) . . WikiBot
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Case studies in or about Yemen

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5 most recently updated publications on Yemen

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Who is Who

People working in Yemen

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Organizations working in Yemen

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See also

External Resources

"Water Supply and Sanitation in Yemen" on Wikipedia

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