Written By: Thuria Ghaleb
Article Date: Jun 24, 2008 - 4:13:11 AM
Dr. Abdul-Rahman al-Eryani with representatives from SDF and GTZ climb one of the reservoirs to inspect it.
For the first time in its history, Yemen is making use of the ferro-cement technique to alleviate the water crisis which poses the biggest threat to human survival in this country. The Minister of Water and Environment, Dr. Abdul-Rahman al-Eryani, launched two ferro-cement reservoirs to harvest rainwater in two schools in Sana’a on June 18.
The two reservoirs, launched in the Ekhwan Thabet and Ashaheed Ataiar schools in Al-Sabeen district in Sana’a, are part of a project that waited for 10 months, two rain seasons, to be established in order to be sure that the reservoirs were ready to receive rainwater.
Although ferro-cement reservoirs are not strictly a ‘sustainable’ technique given that they use cement and steel, they are nevertheless employed in a highly efficient and cost-effective manner. In addition to this, ferro-cement is a thin cement mortar laid over wire mesh, which acts as a reinforcement element.
The ferro-cement technique is one of various methods used in implementing reservoirs to harvest rainwater, but it is specifically useful because it is relatively cheap, strong and durable, and as a technique is easily acquired. However, it is still unknown in Yemen although it is used in many other countries.
“Yemenis always try to create different simple ways to save and keep water. Such simple techniques should be used in Yemen’s water crisis,” said Dr. al-Eryani in the ceremony held to launch the reservoirs.
The schools’ reservoirs are financed by the Social Fund for Development (SFD) and the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), which are both interested in supporting such projects, especially in the recent Yemen’s water crisis.
The project of establishing these two ferro-cement reservoirs aims at experiencing locally this technique and reducing the expenses spent in other projects of harvesting rainwater through other kinds of reservoirs.
The shared cooperative project between the SFD and the GTZ chose two neighboring schools which are not connected with the public water system, but that have suitable roofs to collect rainwater, and enough yard-space to build reservoirs. The first reservoir was implemented with a capacity of 50 cubic meters on the earth’s surface of the Ashaheed Ataiar School costing $ 3,200, while the other one was established with a capacity of 100 cubic meters under the normal land level in the Ekhwan Thabet School, costing $ 5,400. According to representatives from SDF and GTZ, the expenses of establishing the two reservoirs are about 50 percent cheaper compared with dams built of reinforced concrete.
“The harvesting of rainwater is an excellent choice, especially in areas suffering from water scarcity, such as Yemen. Rainwater harvesting is a simple technique which consists in harvesting rainwater from the roofs of the buildings and piping into the reservoirs, established in schoolyards, to then use it in agriculture, domestic use, or for animals” said Jochen Renger, Program Coordinator of the GTZ- Water Sector Program.
He also pointed out that the SFD has implemented a pilot project before these two reservoirs, but the SFD and the GTZ’s shared desire to get outside experiences to expand the idea and to open wider choices, has led to implement these reservoirs of ferro-cement as a pilot project to hence expand and develop such idea to include the entire country of Yemen. The GTZ is an international cooperation enterprise for sustainable development with worldwide operations. GTZ promotes complex reforms and change processes, often working under difficult conditions. Its corporate objective is to improve people’s living conditions on a sustainable basis.
The SFD was formed as an autonomous agency with financial and administrative independence, governed by a Board of Directors, representing the government, NGOs, and the private sector under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister. The SFD seeks to reduce poverty by improving living conditions and providing income generating opportunities for the poor.
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