Thousands Benefit from UNDP’s New Solar-Powered Water Desalination Plant

Improved and increased access to clean water in Seiyun, Hadramout

October 6, 2022
UNDP Yemen - Desalination Plant Control Room

Control room of the desalination plant

UNDP Yemen / 2022

Hadramout, Yemen: 6 October 2022 - Last week, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched a solar-powered desalination plant that will provide vital access to clean water to 20,000 people in the Burr area of Seiyun. The ceremony was attended by Yemeni officials from the Ministry of Water and Environment, UNDP representatives, and local authorities from Hadramout.

As Yemen is one of the most water scarce countries in the world, access to clean drinking water is limited in most communities and – where available – is prohibitively costly.  With critical water infrastructure including dams, reservoirs, and freshwater pipes destroyed in the protracted seven-year conflict, the situation has been greatly exacerbated.

Despite the distance to the coastline, Burr’s well water is brackish and households must pay increasingly unaffordable fees for drinking and cooking water trucked in from distant areas. A 2021 UNDP assessment found that Burr households pay between 5,0001 – 8,0002 Yemeni Riyals (approximately US$ 5 – US$ 9) monthly for clean drinking water – a cost out of reach for the average Yemeni.

With a capacity of producing 18 – 20 cubic meters of potable water an hour, the desalination plant is powered on solar energy and works by cleaning the brackish water through a series of processes that include filters, screens, and chlorine. Yemenis in the area will pay a small monthly fee of YER 2,000 (approximately US$ 2) that covers the operational cost to the government-run General Authority of Rural Water Project (GARWAP) for access to the water.

“Using solar powered desalination technology is one way to counter the water scarcity in Yemen in a sustainable way,” says Auke Lootsma UNDP’s Resident Representative in Yemen. “The project will help supply fresh, potable water to over 20,000 people in the area.”

This initiative is the result of a partnership and collaboration between UNDP, the Ministry of Water and Environment, GARWAP, and Burr community members. Implemented through UNDP’s Rapid Financing Facility (RFF), the solar-powered desalination plant is a new initiative providing clean water in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner.

In addition to providing access to clean drinking water, the desalination plant will also create job opportunities for 10 vulnerable people in the rural areas. Additionally, saltpans will enable the plant’s wastewater to be converted into salt and, through newly established businesses, the salt will be sold in the local market. The desalination unit will help ensure access to clean drinking water at an affordable price.

About RFF

The Rapid Financing Facility project (RFF) is funded and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in Seiyun district, Hadramout. The project aims to contribute to strengthen community resilience against shocks and crises in Yemen and has three mutually reinforcing outputs geared to protect poor and vulnerable people from aggravated hardship caused by COVID-19.

About UNDP

UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in nearly 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

1 Water Survey Assessment, September 2021
2 Observation visit March, 2022

UNDP Yemen Desalination Plant

Desalinataion Plant

UNDP Yemen / 2022