Thoughts on a Yemen Water Strategy
Water management in Yemen has failed; private ownership, public control, and/or culture and reciprocity mechanisms have been ineffective. Private ownership means digging a well and pumping until the aquifer drops too low and then drilling a deeper well leading to a complete depletion of accessible groundwater. Public control requires a government that has a monopoly on violence, not the case in Yemen, to enforce existing water access and regulation laws. Finally, cultural and reciprocity mechanisms have worked to a degree but depend on the use of tribal violence which generates larger social problems and usually does not control water extraction over a large enough area to prevent depletion of key aquifers.
With ninety percent of Yemen’s water resources dedicated to agriculture production, the solution to the country’s long term water issues will depend on finding ways to communally and more effectively manage those resources. The current chaotic situation adds to the complexity of the problems faced in Yemen and makes the hope of a long term solution ever more difficult to achieve. The final solution will rest with the Yemeni people and a return to a 5,000 year old tradition of local management of renewable water resources.
The "thought piece" below provides a historical framework for Yemen's water management, identifies problems faced in water management, and recommends a sustainable approach to conserving water resources.
Yemen Water Strategy