Yemen’s six-year-long war has taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure. One third of the facilities for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and for transport has been damaged due to the conflict. Urban services, such as street cleaning and trash collection, have also suffered badly because municipal authorities lack funds. Half of the country’s hospitals and clinics have been damaged or destroyed, with those remaining operational facing shortages of electrical power as well as of medicines and other essential supplies.
At the same time, Yemen is fighting a devastating outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and other major diseases such as cholera, dengue fever, and malaria. Last year’s cholera outbreak was one of its worst. These diseases are made deadlier by weak coping capacity in the country’s cities. The International Rescue Committee, a U.S.-based NGO, calls the potential for outbreaks of the coronavirus in countries like Yemen “a nightmare scenario.”
The World Bank’s Yemen Integrated Urban Services Emergency Project (YIUSEP) has been providing support to the health sector through integrated services, which are critical in the fight against COVID-19 and other diseases.
More electricity for hospitals is essential
Dr. Mutahar Mohammed Murshid, Director of Al Jamhouri public hospital in Sana’a, had feared the news of COVID-19’s arrival in Yemen for weeks before the first confirmed cases last month. Bracing for a response, albeit with extremely limited resources, he is assured on one front: the provision of solar power through the YIUSEP now ensures that the hospital has a supply of electricity around the clock.
Before the solar installation, which took place in October 2018, the hospital had to manage with only half of the power it required to run critical services for an average of 16 hours a day. A generator previously used to supplement the power supply from the grid, but it was expensive, as well as unreliable because of frequent disruptions to supplies of diesel fuel as well.