With support from the European Union, 37 Village Cooperation Councils were created in Sharess district, serving 95 villages. Photo: UNDP Yemen

Surrounded by the mountains of Sharess district, Al-Qaranat is a beautiful and quiet village in Yemen. But like most Yemeni villages, it lacked access to drinking water, roads and other basic services until recently, when people took these matters into their own hands.

People of Al-Qaranat had suffered a lot, waiting for help “… until the Social Fund officers came in, met with the villagers, trained them, helped them to form the Village Cooperative Council (VCC) and empowered them with the necessary skills,” said Mohammed Al-Jawbi, school headmaster.

“We were trained how to identify and prioritize our needs as a community, make use of local resources and motivate the community members to step in and not wait for external help”, said Mujammal Al-Jawbi, a school teacher and member of the Village Cooperative Council.

Al-Qaranat village was one of the priorities of “Tamkeen”, a capacity building programme, implemented by the Social Fund for Development (SFD) in the framework of the EU-funded Social Protection for Community Resilience (SPCRP) and in partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to empower communities to tackle their challenges.

"People have never had any elections in our village until they had to elect the members of our Village Cooperative Council”, said Yasmeen Mohammed, a female member of the Council. “Everyone had the right to nominate themselves. The Council was formed of both women and men and we, women, are very active”, she said.

As a mountainous village, the community’s first priority was access to clean drinking water. Villagers used to fetch drinking water once or twice a day on donkeys from a spring at the bottom of the valley, a 5-hour journey. “We discussed our needs and priorities and decided to focus on improving access to drinking water. Everybody came in to put an end to this suffering; some people with money, others helped build the water pipes and tanks”, said Hizam Yahya, VCC Coordinator. “We built water tanks in three different locations, bought a water pump and installed a piping network to deliver water to every house in the village benefiting around 2.000 people. Something we never believed we could do on our own”, he added. “If it wasn’t for this water project, half of the villagers would have left”, the school headmaster added.

Miss Kawkab Hajjar, VCC Member, praised the role women: “Women worked side by side with men to collect waste, repair the roads and raise awareness of housewives on prevention of cholera. They also organized classes for illiterate housewives”.

“We are now working to repair the roads in our village which get inaccessible during the rainy season. People had to rely on donkeys to carry their goods. Now we all realize that when we work as a team, we can achieve a lot!”, said Ali Saleh.

37 Village Cooperative Councils were formed in Sharess district alone, serving 95 villages under The Social Protection for Community Resilience Project (SPCRP), empowering 21,592 people and building their self-reliance to overcome community problems.

The Social Protection for Community Resilience Project (SPCRP) is funded and supported by the European Union (EU) and implemented in partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and The Social Fund for Development (SFD). The USD$28 million SPCRP aims to enhance the purchasing capacity of vulnerable communities while restoring community infrastructure and improving access to and delivery of key services through short-term employment, provision of solar energy equipment, rehabilitating healthcare facilities, and building the capacities of communities and local authorities.

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