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The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Oct 18, 2009

Sequel - Yemeni Water Crisis

Yemen is the poorest Arab country, 42% of the population live below the poverty line which consists of $2 per day, per person.

I have previously written about the Yemeni civil war which has been intermittent since the mid 1960s. It is a senseless war causing an economic burden and human sufferings. Official reports maintain that between 150,000 to 200,000 people have fled the war zone to Sana, the capital, a situation that has caused major economic hardship in the city. Furthermore, Yemen is facing a major water crisis. According the the UN Arab Human Development Report (2007-2008), 32% of the population are deprived of drinking water.

In an article in the LA Times (10/11/09), Haley Sweetland Edwards stated that "Sana's populations of 2 million is growing at the rate of 8% year - overwhelmed job markets and overstretched services. The unrelenting pressure is likely to make Sana the first capital in the world to run out of drinking water--as early as 2025, according to a recent projection by Sana Water Basin Management Project, which is funded by the World Bank." The article further states that "the average person in Yemen survives on one-fifth of what the World Health Organization considers to be an adequate amount of water."

In the same article Edwards states that the majority of people in Sana depend on water extracted from wells, transported by tanker trucks, distributed and sold to residents at a cost of 20 to 60 cents a gallon. Although this seems to be a meager amount of money, nonetheless many Yemeni cannot afford to pay for their water supply.

Abdul Rahman Fadhl Iryani , Yemeni minister of water resources, said to Edwards that "the nationwide crisis would require that the government implement a comprehensive plan to oversee water extraction, build additional wells and water mains to serve the growing capital, and reform water use in the agricultural sector."

I would like to stress here that a large quantity of water is used to irrigate the popular Khat* plant. The plant 's leaves, considered as narcotic, are chewed by many men in Yemen. Several attempts on the part of the government to prohibit the cultivation of Khat have failed.


*NB: Khat, Qat, or Ghat has been grown for use as a stimulant for centuries in Yemen. Its leaves are chewed or dried to be consumed as tea in order to achieve a state of euphoria and stimulation (Wikipedia).




quotes the Yemini minister of water resources

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