Yemen Water Crisis
April 17, 2019
by Lorenzo Meloni
Yemen is suffering from a severe humanitarian crisis following the outbreak of the Yemeni Civil War in 2015.
Water scarcity resulted in at least 16 million people lacking basic healthcare and doctors have struggled with the world's largest cholera outbreak, which resulted in more than 1.2 million suspected cases and 2,500 related deaths since April 2017.
Control over limited water resources is consistently a strategic tactic employed by both sides, the Houthi and Saudi forces, throughout the current war and population is facing the violent consequences. In fact, Yemen has no permanent body of open water, because there are no rivers and the country entirely relies on groundwater and stored rainwater.
Before the war, Yemen had already been suffering from great water insecurity and, historically, water conflicts are not new but the impacts of climate change and perpetual war are depleting the water supply in Yemen at an accelerated pace. In 2018, FAO claimed that Yemen could be the first nation to lose all its water resources. 19.3 million Yemenis do not have access to clean water and sanitation and the capital city of Sanaa could run out of water any day.
Magnum photographer Lorenzo Meloni embedded with the Saudi coalition on a Black Hawk helicopter, and photographed the now desert and controversial area of the border with Saudi Arabia and the Marib governorate, as well as the Saudi military installations in the territory. Sand dunes in northeastern areas like Marib are over 100 metres high, as desertification in Yemen is increasing and drastically changing the environment.