Yemen is a complicated country. Its history of upheaval and ongoing civil war have led to a humanitarian crisis so severe that it’s currently considered one of the world’s worst.
“Half of the health facilities have been destroyed, more than 9 million children are out of school, and 12 million people don’t have access to clean water,” says Evani Debone, ADRA’s communications and advocacy officer in Yemen. “The list of needs goes on.”
Despite the many challenges, ADRA was able to serve more than 6 million people in Yemen in 2021 alone.
“With our multi-sectoral approach, we are giving opportunities to people who have their life taken away from the war a chance to rebuild, either through our cash for work assistance, livelihood, or agriculture projects,” said Debone.
Fatima is one of those they served. She had to leave her home behind as the violence of war came too close. ADRA met her in the settlement for internally displaced persons (IDPs), where she was struggling to settle alongside 500 other people.
But Fatima was much more concerned with the settlement’s bathroom facilities. She explained to ADRA’s team that there were several urgent issues that needed addressing:
Women, including Fatima, and girls faced regular harassment and abuse from men and boys who were using the same facilities.
Only cold water was available in the facilities, so many residents would avoid showering and cleaning up for long periods of time.
Residents of the settlement also used the facilities to prepare food, as it was the only area with a drainage system.
Residents with disabilities had issues using the facilities, as they were not built with accessibility in mind.
When ADRA talks about water projects, many people understandably think about wells and other sources of clean water for drinking, which is certainly one aspect of that work. But ADRA’s expertise actually expands to all things water, sanitation, and hygiene, commonly referred to as WASH in humanitarian lingo.
In this kind of environment, bathroom behavior can be a life-or-death situation. Sanitation and hygiene are critical elements to good health, especially in a communal environment, such as a settlement.
Dignity and safety are also vitally important, which is why ADRA’s team in Yemen look for specific input when they are assessing a situation. They seek out women, those with disabilities, elderly individuals, and others who may be more vulnerable or who may face challenges that are too often overlooked.
Thanks to Fatima and others who felt comfortable sharing their thoughts, ADRA was able to address the needs of camp residents through a renovated facility that provided warm water, female-specific and accessible spaces, as well as a suitable place for residents to prepare food.
“I no longer avoid going to the washroom,” said Fatima. “Thank you, ADRA, for providing us with these facilities.”