Saturday, April 23, 2011

putting gender back in water

In rural Yemen, it's a girl's job to fetch water. Girls often have to make long, back-breaking journeys to bring water home, a full-time job that can keep them out of school. If they grow up without an education, these girls are more likely to marry early, have a larger family to feed, die in childbirth, and bring up malnourished children. They are less likely to make themselves heard socially and politically, encourage their children's education, or contribute to their country's development.

Yemen's water crisis is complex and all-encompassing, with repercussions on many aspects of human development. Intricately linked to the country's alarming food insecurity, it is a challenge that remains increasingly important to tackle effectively - whoever is in power.

The following photos, that I took between 2008 and 2010 and that were recently awarded a reporting trip to Portugal with the EJC, take a look at the Yemeni water crisis through women's eyes.

Because a girl carries water - Shahara, North Yemen, 2009 - Siham, barely 10, carries water back home from a rainwater pool in her village. It's a girl's job to fetch water in rural Yemen, and those who have to walk miles every day to find water often miss out on an education. But Siham is lucky, and every morning she attends the village's girls primary school. After her picture was taken, she quietly asked for a pen.

Balancing buckets - Shahara, North Yemen, 2009 - In their bright plastic buckets, women collect water from one of the village's rainwater pools. Because it has been long since it last rained, the level inside the pool has dropped.

Eid water - Beit Baws, North Yemen, 2008 - Two girls carry water home from a pool at the bottom of their cliff-top village, on the outskirts of the Yemeni capital Sana'a. It's Eid al-Adha, an important Islamic festival, so the youngest girl is wearing lipstick.

Running the water home - Sana'a, North Yemen, 2010 -
In cut-out jerry cans, two girls run home with the water they have collected from the local mosque. Despite a public water network in most of the Yemeni capital, in 2010, residents complained that the pipes ran dry for at least half of the month.

Tap to to dwindling groundwater - Amran, North Yemen, 2009 - A mother collects water from the public water tap. She makes several trips before she has enough for the day. Below the city where she lives, the groundwater level drops by three meters every year.

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