Although cholera is endemic in Yemen, the last few years has seen infections spike to a scale not witnessed in living memory. Lake of maintenance of water infrastructure, plus aquifer depletion, are largely to blame.
With freshwater extremely scarce and sewage disposal systems in disrepair, more and more people like Adba, a vegetable farmer in her mid-60s, are using water of dubious quality, leading to infections.
“We watered our vegetables using wastewater and I got terribly sick. I couldn’t walk, I was barely moving. Now, the wastewater has been treated, so people don’t get cholera and die”, says Adba. Farmers are aware of the dangers of using this water, but with few other options available – and the need to grow food so great – many feel like they have no choice.
Seeing this problem, FAO and Japan partnered with the Water User’s Associations (WUA’s) to install small-scale wastewater treatment plants that can produce safe water for agricultural use. Water, food, health: the basics that everyone should have. Through this project, FAO and Japan are working to ensure that the Yemeni farmers who toil the soil every day and thousands who nourish their families with fresh vegetables from the markets, can do so cholera free.