Water riots in southern Yemen

Violent confrontations over water shortages continued for a fourth day in southern Yemen on Tuesday. Police reportedly 
used tear gas and live bullets to disperse the crowds and one demonstrator was injured. On Sunday, a protester was shot dead, according to Reuters.

Water has always been scarce in Yemen but the country now faces unprecedented rationing. Three months ago, 75% of Aden’s water supply was redirected to the cities of Zinjibar and Ja’ar because of shortages there – which has left three districts of Aden without running water.

Demonstrators are blaming corrupt officials but unregulated drilling of private wells, which has been going on for many years and has depleted groundwater resources, is a large part of the problem.

In the capital, Sana’a, one resident told the UN news agency IRIN: “Our household has received no water for 21 days, so I turned to buying water from trucks… In the past month, I bought water four times, costing me YR10,000 [$50] – nearly one-third of my monthly salary.” 

During the last month, the price for delivering a truck-load of water (3,600 litres) in Sana’a has gone up from $7.5 to $12.5.

In al-Baidha province yesterday, torrential rain killed five people as well as livestock, washed away cars and forced 40 families out of their homes.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 26 August 2009.