Thursday, July 21, 2011

Yemen: Political Instability Leads To A Season Of Suffering

The headlines from Yemen are about politics and violence, but the daily realities there now are about poor diet, shortage of clean water, costly and scarce petrol, and grinding hardships in ordinary life.
By Colette Fearon
Rumours abound in Yemen. Nobody really knows what the future holds so all they can do is focus on day-to-day reality. And that reality is pretty gloomy.
Intermittent power cuts across the country have meant that at times electricity has been available for just a few hours per day. Without electricity perishable goods cannot be stored. Blood banks, hospitals and medical supplies have been affected, especially with the fuel needed to supply generators becoming scarce.
The high price of petrol means the tankers that usually provide a lifeline by delivering water to people's homes are off the road. Water is in frighteningly short supply. Families simply do not know when the tanker will call to their homes next.
The public health risks of reduced water intake are obvious. It could be only a matter of time before we start to hear of large numbers of people affected by dehydration, kidney infections and high blood pressure. Acute watery diarrhoea has already been reported in the south - a consequence of the fighting is that large numbers of families have been displaced and have lost their access to clean water.
Reports show that food prices are increasing sharply with costs of staple goods higher than ever before. Goods such as eggs, beans - now considered a luxury item - and meat are not available. There's no profit to be made when transport and other overhead costs are as high as they are.
As a result, people's diets lack the nutritional variety their bodies need. They are relying on a bland carbohydrate-based diet with little protein or fibre. Last year it was estimated that more than seven million people did not have enough to eat each day; that figure is likely to have risen significantly over recent weeks, although until the security situation improves it will be impossible to tell the true extent of the problem.
-This commentary was published in The National on 21/07/2011
Colette Fearon is Oxfam's country director for Yemen

No comments:

Post a Comment