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Dams and Water Barriers

Dr. Qais Ahmed Al-Muhammadi


According to the report of the Global Information System for Water and Agriculture of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, there are 347 dams in the Republic of Yemen, but such number remains very small, especially if compared in terms of their area, potential opportunities and the water needs. Moreover, the issue of building dams and water barriers is among the most important strategic issues that our society needs, and remains a priority even in the presence of conflicts and in the stage of instability.

In Yemen, we have many opportunities, the most important of which is the positive climate change that promises to increase the rates of monsoon rains in the various Yemeni governorates and regions in the forthcoming years. This requires the optimum utilization of the rainwater through constructing dams and water barriers to support the development in our country, especially to ensure sustainable agricultural development.

It is worth mentioning that the rainwater in our country is wasted, although it is a strategic resource and it is not necessarily to be used in the agricultural field only, but also in the industrial and household uses. And so, we can classify the dams into storage dams for water supply, irrigation, power generation and navigation, and then dams for protection against floods, underground recharge dams, underground dams and the dams that are constructed for special and specific purposes.

From a strategic perspective, the industrial and agricultural development in the world, the increasing number of population and their need for water and the pressure on the available water resources require us to manage those needs according to a strategy that ensures a rational use of water. Although preserving water and developing its resources was and is still a major goal of the good governance objectives as water is the lifeblood and nerve of life, and is the first basic pillar upon which the comprehensive

development relies, as most of the agricultural areas in Yemen mainly depend on the monsoon rains, then it would be necessary to be among the strategic priorities of any government and organizations, and the other active authorities, especially the communities and local authorities, must consider them as the forefront of the developmental and economic concerns. In order to achieve the optimum benefit from the rainwater, the State, generally, and the communities and local authorities, in particular, shall give the priority to the construction of dams and water barriers in areas where rainwater reaches, in addition to the adequate efforts and contributions required to ensure an increase in the number of dams and water barriers. It is understood that the population density is high in the mountainous areas, and we here two strategies are ahead of us either to redistribute the population of the Republic of Yemen through intervention to reduce the population density in the mountainous areas, and such strategy may be difficult in terms of the implementation thereof in light of the current conditions, while the alternative strategy is to provide the infrastructure for the mountainous areas, the most important of which is the permanent availability of water for the present population, such a manner that does not prejudice the right of the next generation, in addition to paving mountainous areas.

With regard to the possible practical solutions, it is based on benefiting from the successful experiences achieved by the developing countries in this field. We also recommend, as a special case in Yemen, that the income tax to be increased at the same time, so that the largest portion thereof to be allocated for the construction of dams and water barriers, especially as we know that the annual income tax gains large sums, yet they need to be well exploited. The communities and local authorities will have the most prominent role in all areas where the rainwater reaches, through presenting projects to build dams and water barriers based on a preliminary study that determines the location of the dam and the available alternative opportunities, in addition to their participation through the mobilization of funds through methods including the community contributions, as well as following up with the governmental authorities and supporting organizations and allocating appropriate land for construction.

We really hope that the Yemeni human will return to what he has been since ancient times and to his simple instinct that created an awareness of the importance of dams, so he constructed and benefited from them, and this the aim attained in order to achieve food security for the population and create sustainable agricultural development.

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