Household toilet construction: small change with a big impact

October 30, 2018

Ameen with his family eating their only meal for the day made of bread and lentils.

Proper Sanitation Prevents Diseases

Ameen Musleh is the father of eight children – four daughters and four sons. Although they are prolific in number, their existence is modest.  In Dhalima Habour in the Yemeni governorate of Amran, the family sleeps together in a single room.

“We eat one meal only per day,” says Ameen.  “Bread and lentils.”  He is not alone in his struggle to put food on the table.   And hunger is not his only challenge. 

In Yemen, less than 55 per cent of the population has access to safe drinking water, and access to proper sanitation is as low or even lower than in many sub-Saharan African countries.  Unable to access toilet facilities, open defecation is both widespread and deadly, giving way to water and food contamination and contributing to the spread of potentially life-threatening diseases.  In 2018, Yemen was subject to the largest cholera epidemic in modern history.  Infected with both malaria and cholera, Ameen was bed-ridden for months.

Aside from the immediate health risks, poor sanitation has additional consequences for women.  For example, when household members fall ill, women assume a greater burden of care; and, during child birth, clean water and sanitation can mean the difference between life and death for both mothers and babies.

For Ameen’s daughters, the lack of toilet facilities meant that they would have to look for secluded spaces, in order to relieve themselves in private.  This increased their exposure to harassment, abuse and violence – particularly after nightfall.

UNDP’s Yemen Emergency Crisis Response Project provides toilets for vulnerable rural households, helping to improve sanitation and health conditions in communities throughout the country.  In addition, beneficiaries receive training and are remunerated for their participation in installation work. 

To date, the project has constructed 1,251 household toilets – improving sanitation and hygiene for more than 7,000 people.

Having constructed toilet facilities for his own home, Ameen is better able to protect his family from sickness, disease and other threats.  He has also developed valuable new skills and received cash that he can use to provide food and other household necessities.


UNDP has partnered with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to implement the US$3 million Yemen Emergency Crisis Response Project.  This project improves access to safe water sources and effective sanitation and hygiene services, by constructing water reservoirs and building toilets for vulnerable households in rural communities.