The Trust was invited to visit Yemen and the Ministry of Water and Environment in 2010. So as to learn of the many issues that concerns the government and people of this beautiful country. The briefings and visits allowed a great insight into the infrastructure of the country.
The issues are various, but not insurmountable with the support of outside agencies; that is so long as those from outside do not stipulate the changes that in other countries may be seen as desirable; the growing and chewing of qat being the most often raised issue by donor nations.
Qat can be seen as a concern but its place in Yemeni society is at present insurmountable. The need is to develop better agricultural methods of its growing and develop better cash crops that can show similar or better returns to the farmers and landowners.
Dr Harvey Wood Director of Clean Rivers trust in Yemen
The reductions in agricultural water use (92%), (qat as 45%) of 5% will double the water available to the nation’s population.
Other issues in Yemen include a lack of functioning sewage works, across the nation there are sixteen, and only a few are in working order and of those few all are undersized.
The lack of water to supply the capital Sana’a is an ongoing issue that is solvable if the political situation can stabilise. The external influences on the country make field exploration somewhat hazardous at present.
The Trust awaits developments but has plans for research in Ibb and Aden as well as further research in the capital.
The subject of Qat, properly known as Catha edulis came about because of the publicity regarding the problems of water supply that was affecting the Republic of Yemen in 2008/9 and the huge issues of civil strife, relocation of the capital, Sana’a, the issues of wealth and agricultural shortfall all were making headlines in the international press. The Yemen usually makes the headlines only when some terrorist event takes place, nothing much is really known of this remarkable and underestimated country. It is one of the founding centres of civilisation, one of the most pivotal centres of industry, engineering, arts and culture; it was a leader in the development of agriculture and at the forefront of developing a scientific approach to potable water supply that many countries still strive to achieve.
milling seasame oil sarna’a yemen
This mastery of civilised life was flowering 2500 years ago and made the country a prize that every country wanted to control for the millennia since. The problem of lack of water has now been dropped by the worlds media and international attention is now focused on oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico and volcanic dust clouds from Iceland; but the problems of Yemen and its water supply’s dwindling reserves has not gone away.
During initial trawls of the internet, to begin research into the water shortage issue, one major subject appeared to hold a key: Qat is not the Holy Grail, but it has an important role in the question and at the same time it must play one in the answer(s). As such it must be accommodated within the structures that may form a solution.
The city of Sarna Look at the water tanks balanced on the roofs
I am grateful to several Yemenis who have given me time and information to help me to reach a modest understanding of this plant. It certainly has a number of powerful proponents and has the potential to create huge wealth. This is an important element of a conundrum in what is a fiscally poor country………
Above is the Qat leaves
Above is the Qat tree or Catha edulis
You Tube Video on the shortage of water in Yemen
Click here to watch
Yemen’s water crisis eclipses al Qaeda threat
Water Resources Information in Yemen a PDF report
The Yemeni Society’s article on the Yemen water crisis
Fruit and Nuts? Alternative, High Value Crops For Yemen a report from Clean Rivers Trust.
Catha edulis (Qat). The widely grown shrub in the Middle East and East Africa with its wide recreational use creates large problems with many questions that need to be addressed; quantity of water used, better agricultural practise, control of the use of the shrub as a social focus and the water and food poverty that can develop in its main growing areas.