Supporting Maternal Healthcare in Rural Yemen

April 7, 2024

In the village of Shaab Al-Mazariya, Bajel district, Hodeidah Governorate, women often face health challenges that threaten their lives with each new childbirth. The lack of emergency obstetric units forces women to birth children in poor health environments, exposing them to serious risks.

Shaab Al Mazariyah Villege, Bajel district, Hodeidah Governorate

UNDP Yemen / 2023

Mallah Sajid, a mother of six, shares heartbreaking stories of women’s suffering during child delivery. "Women here die giving birth, and so do their babies. There are no doctors, midwives, or even a nearby emergency unit. They rely on a few older women with modest experience, but it's not enough."

However, dangers for community members extend beyond home births. Even reaching the distant health facilities of Bajel (31 kilometers away) is a hardship for many  families. Rough roads and high transportation costs create a significant barrier to essential healthcare for many.

Mallah Sajid, a mother of six, speaks about the challenges faced by women during childbirth in Shaab Al Mazariyah village, Hodeidah Governorate.

UNDP Yemen / 2023

Through support by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Social Fund for Development (SFD) has helped established a sub-district committee (SDC) in Al Khalafia sub-district. The SDC was responsible for identifying the needs of their community and developing an action plan accordingly.

Women members of the development committee played a leading role in amplifying the voice of other rural women and highlighting the urgent need for emergency obstetric services and safe child delivery.

Ultimately, community members agreed on the necessity of building an emergency obstetric unit.

As part of the Supporting Resilient Livelihoods, Food Security and Climate Adaptation in Yemen Programme (ERRY JPIII), the community in Shaab Al-Mazariya was supported to build a life-saving emergency obstetric unit.

Walid Amer, an engineer at the Social Fund for Development (SFD) highlights the impact of the obstetric unit on the community.

UNDP Yemen / 2023

Recognizing the critical need for accessible maternity care, Walid Amer, an engineer at the Social Fund for Development, notes, "This project is vital. It serves a community of 8,000 people in a remote location, far from any medical centre. Before, access to healthcare was a major challenge for these residents. Now, this unit brings hope and the promise of safe childbirth,” he added.

Commenting on the impact of the obstetric unit, Mr. Ali Ayish, head of the community committee in Shaab Al-Mazariya,  says, "The unit will serve everyone and make people in the area feel safe.”

"Men, women, fathers, and mothers were happy to build the health unit; everyone contributed to the success of the project,” he emphasizes. 

"The people will no longer have to go to the far-away health units in Bajel district - the emergency unit is available to everyone at an affordable transportation cost (3,000 YR instead of 30,000),” Mr. Ayish explains.

Now, the emergency obstetric unit is functioning in Shaab Al-Mazariya and welcomes 5-6 births per day.

Head of community committee in Shaab Al Mazariyah, Ali Ayish, reflects on the critical role of the obstetric unit for safe birth in his village.

UNDP Yemen / 2023

An investment of $230,000 USD has transformed healthcare access across 11 districts in Taiz, Abyan, Lahj, Al-Mahwit, and Hodeidah  governorates. The initiative involved constructing or expanding five health units and a critical emergency obstetric unit, with construction underway for five additional units. This vital investment supports approximately 24,000 people in rural Yemen with access to improved healthcare services.

The newly constructed emergency obstetric unit, Bajel district, Hodeidah Governorate

UNDP Yemen / 2023

With funding from the European Union and Government of Sweden, the United Nations Development Programme and local partner, the Social Fund for Development, have enhanced the delivery of critical health services by establishing community compact initiatives and implementing small-scale projects to improve health infrastructure in rural Yemen.

These activities were implemented as a part of the Supporting Resilient Livelihoods, Food Security and Climate Adaptation in Yemen Joint Programme (ERRY JP III). The Programme aims to strengthen the resilience capacity of crisis-affected communities through the creation of sustainable livelihoods and access to basic services.