BMZ grants Vision Hope International 500,000 Euros to build cisterns for remote villages, thousands to benefit.
Emmendingen, GERMANY/Sana”a, YEMEN – German charity Vision Hope International was awarded a major federal grant this week for a water resources project in Yemen that will benefit at least 600 poor families in a remote section of the drought-stricken, war-torn nation.
The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Germany informed Vision Hope CEO Matthias Leibbrand on Wednesday that his organization would receive full funding for their 500,000-Euro proposal to build an integrated water system for four villages in Yemen. The charity must also raise 55,555 Euros in private matching funds for the project.
“We want to save lives, thousands of lives,” Leibbrand said. The project will provide a total of 12 cisterns to residents in four mountainous villages.
Vision Hope International has provided social care, emergency nutrition and water-resources relief to families in Middle Eastern conflict zones since 2002 — specifically those in Jordan, Yemen and Afghanistan.
The current water project, which will launch its planning and training phase on April 1 from Sana”a, Yemen, includes funding for construction supplies and computer and project-management training for the project’s Yemeni partners. Workers will also learn how to maintain the water systems and keep them safe and clean.
As many as 4,200 people will have a reliable source of water restored to their homes.
Water resources have been severely strained by a civil war that broke out in the country a year ago between Houthi Rebels and a Saudi-backed alliance that has allied with the country’s elected government. The country’s infrastructure has deteriorated and many foreign aid organizations have had to pull out amid the increasingly unstable and dangerous political situation.
“Working together, even against crushing odds, people can be an enormous force for good,” Leibbrand said. Leibbrand has taken part in projects in the Arab world since 1996.
The project will run from April 1 until February 28th of next year.
It is the third cistern project that Vision Hope, which is based in Emmendingen, Germany, has undertaken in Yemen since 2006. Vision Hope personnel have received many inquiries from Yemeni contacts asking whether the organization would undertake another cistern project, Leibbrand said. Diesel-powered pumps that had previously carried water up to villages traditionally established in mountainous regions have stopped operating amidst ongoing armed conflict inside the country.
Women and girls have taken on the task of walking several miles a day to retrieve water from springs at the base of hills and mountains and carrying it back up in plastic bottles.
“With these cisterns, the work load of hauling water will be drastically reduced,” Leibbrand wrote in his project proposal to the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Germany.
The small farms where these people live typically grow sorghum, coffee and mangos. Families might own a couple of sheep and goats or a cow. Their average monthly incomes are about 80 Euro.
Young men, driven from cities ravaged by war, have returned home to many of these villages, swelling their populations and putting added stress on dwindling water resources, said Gerhard Lichtenthaeler. Lichtenthaeler, an expert on Yemen and its water crisis, works with the German Corporation for International Development (GIZ), a branch of the BMZ.
Lichtenthaeler said Yemen’s population has not urbanized to the same extent as other Middle Eastern countries, with more than half its population still living in small hamlets and villages. For cultural and historic reasons, these villages are typically set in high, mountainous regions where cisterns have been in use for hundreds of years.
The increased pressures on water resources have, in a way, provided a wonderful opportunity for people to return to traditional, sustainable systems that had fallen into disrepair, Lichtenthaeler said. Going back to such a system eliminates the need for power generation and keeps women and girls safely inside the village.
“The beautiful thing about these people in Yemen, they have an incredible amount of social adaptive capacity – ‘resilience’ is a good word for it,” Lichtenthaeler said. “To see how local people have made all kinds of terrible adaptations to cope with the current situation in spite of the total lack of energy, basic food … and medical supplies is fascinating.”
Vision Hope’s Yemeni partner in the endeavor is Youth For Homeland (YFH), which will provide the project”s labor and regional expertise. Leibbrand said YFH is still a relatively young organization, having been launched two years ago.
Vision Hope has worked closely with YFH on its youth empowerment project. The German charity will lean on its deep experience with international, crisis project management and cistern construction to act as consultants to YFH throughout the water project’s planning, training and construction phases.
“The cisterns will be built by local construction companies,” Leibbrand wrote in his grant proposal. “This way, we will be providing jobs to people, which given the current crisis can provide much-needed emergency funds for households.”
WRITER: Anna B. Mitchell, firstname.lastname@example.org, PR volunteer for Vision Hope International
Vision Hope International e.V. wurde 2002 in Lahr/Schwarzwald mit dem Ziel gegründet, Menschen in Entwicklungsländern eine hoffnungsvolle Vision für ein würdevolles Leben zu geben.