Blog post

Solar lights the way for communities in Yemen



ETC improves living conditions in Al-Yabli IDP camp using solar lights

“We were suffering from darkness,” says Amna Al-Homaidy, a displaced mother of six who lives in the Al-Yabli camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP).

Many utilities that are considered to be necessities such as electricity and running water are not present in Al-Yabli IDP Camp, a place where Amna’s family and 1,226 other households call home.

Life is difficult for those living in the camp, located in Al Khokha, Yemen. Almost half of the camp's households rely on WFP food assistance and malnutrition levels in the area continue to rise. A recent survey in 2023 by Yemen’s Nutrition Cluster showed that 33.5% of children respondents were suffering from a type of acute malnutrition, an almost 10 percentage point increase from the year prior.

Ayman Mohammad Shamsan, Director of a WFP health centre that distributes nutritional supplies in Al-Yabli camp, claims that the food security situation is worsening due to the poor conditions in the camp. He says: “Malnutrition cases in Al Khokha District increased significantly in December and November [of last year]. We received approximately 70 cases per month here at Al-Yabli centre...the reason for this is the poor living conditions of the people and their displacement from war zones to an area where there is no shelter, no hope, and no work.”

Amna Al-Homaidy, who is quoted at the beginning of the article, is one of the many IDPs who has been displaced to Al-Yabli due to the ongoing conflict. Amna describes the conditions in the camp as, “very, very tiring” and notes that the lack of economic opportunities have caused her family to depend on food assistance. She says: “My husband used to work in this area and provide us with a source of income, but then he became unable to provide for our needs while we were in this camp amidst humiliation, hunger, and suffering.”

She adds that over the course of the conflict, four of her children--two boys and two girls--have died from malnutrition.

Thus, the lack of utilities in the camp only increases the hardship of everyday life. The camp’s inhabitants must leave their homes to collect water from nearby wells with water jugs that are often worn and leaking. Moreover, the task, which is usually performed by women and children, can become hazardous after the sun sets.

Without any sources of light, the women and children are more vulnerable to others in the camp taking advantage of them and encountering dangerous animals and insects such as scorpions, wild dogs, and snakes.

However, the lack of access to lighting at night is being mitigated by WFP’s Emergency Telecommunications Cluster’s (ETC) recent installation of 35 solar lights. Until now, there were just a few small solar lights with plastic fixtures that produced a dim light and ended up breaking over time, leaving the camp in complete darkness.

The newly installed solar lights are large metal streetlights with solar panels that can capture enough solar energy during the day to power a high-strength light throughout the night. The solar lights have been placed at strategic locations in the camp, allowing inhabitants to access water sources more easily and safely after sunset.

Amna Al-Homaidy asserts that before the solar lights were installed, she and others used to “step on scorpions and snakes” but that now the safety situation in the camp at night has improved. She says: “The protection at night is good. If a child goes out, there is light. And if I go out, there is light and no fear. Thank God, things are good. The camp is bright because of the lighting.” 

Like Amna Al-Homaidy, other women in the camp are benefiting from the solar lights. Amna Sharaf, a mother of 15 and resident of Al-Yabli camp, notes that before the installation she didn’t feel able to go out at night with her children and get water but now she says: “We can go out to fetch water until twelve or one o'clock at night and then come back.”

Conditions in the camp and surrounding area remain dire in terms of food security and utilities; however, ETC’s solar light installation is a step towards improving the camp’s overall infrastructure and the lives of its inhabitants.