Rebuilding homes to rebuild lives With the support of UNHCR, ACTED rehabilitates three collective shelters in Ibb governorate, Yemen

As 2017 makes its start, conflict in Yemen continues to rage and the humanitarian crisis only deepens. More and more are forced to flee their homes, and for those families with no where else to go, collective shelters are often the destination. In Ibb governorate, reports place the number of those internally displaced at around 115,000 and the number of collective shelters at 63, where thousands of people are living with only basic shelter materials and without access to basic WASH services.

In March 2016, ACTED conducted an assessment on the living conditions facing internally displaced populations in collective shelters in Ibb. The findings of report were startling - large families were inhabiting small spaces, lacked mattresses, were sharing blankets, and were without essential items to cook, clean and live comfortably. Access to clean water was also limited, whilst washing and sanitation facilities were non-existent or otherwise often non-functional. Some of the water being used was not fit for human use and rubbish was accumulating. The combination of these factors was significantly raising the risk of illness and disease for resident populations.

Images of collective shelters collected during the March 2016 assessment prior to rehabilaition

The concerning state of collective shelters in Ibb revealed by ACTED's March 2016 assessment provided the impetus for project with UNHCR to rehabilitate the structure and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities of three collective shelters. To mark the close of this intervention, ACTED talks to beneficiaries about their experiences and highlights some of the project’s key successes.

This shelter is home to 84 families (446 individuals). Before the rehabilitation, the exiting metal roof had eroded and rusted, leading to leakage and leaving IDPs residing within the shelter vulnerable to stray bullets. The ground floor was prone to frequent flooding, there were no windows and the insulation was poor. In response, ACTED replaced the roof, raised the floor, installed windows and plastered the walls with cement.

Following the escalation of violence in Nabel’s home city of Sa’adah in April 2015, he like many others, made the decision to head south with his wife and sons to a collective shelter in Ibb. While the collective shelter was a reprieve from the fighting, it came with its own set of challenges. At first Nabel tells us that he and his family lived in the entrance way under a plastic cover. “It was cold, water from the rain would leak into our living space, and I was constantly worried about insecurity because anyone could break in. There was no privacy and it was not clean. There was no water taps and the sewage and water network system was not working,” Nabel says. Thanks to the UNHCR funded ACTED project, "conditions inside the shelter changed completely and IDPs pride and dignity were restored. My family and I were given our own private room and the bathrooms were equipped with doors and lights. Living became more comfortable and secure.”

Nabel, 30 years old and collective shelter resident
Exterior of Collective Shelter before rehabilitation (left) and after rehabilitation (right) and solar panels to be installed on the roof (bottom). This unfinished hotel building currently plays host to at least 10 IDP families. The shelter previously had no doors on the exterior or interior of the building, broken and missing windows. Only two of the 22 latrines were functioning, forcing many to resort to open defecation. There was no working power or water source so residents would carry water far distances from wells neighboring areas.

In June 2015 latefah’s flat was damaged by a bomb. Without money to rent a flat, she and her family as well as her brother’s family relocated together from Taizz to a collective shelter in Ibb. Iatefah tells us that “the shelter before the rehabilitation was so crowded. We were living in one room with two families so we did not have a privacy. There was not enough space so most of the time we slept on the roof. After the intervention the big change was that we were given a new room separated from the other family so we could now have complete privacy. We have areas for children to play not like before. We are comfortable and happy to stay here."

latefah, 50 years old, collective shelter resident
Prior to the rehabilitation, this shelter had 12 rooms.for 19 families (161 individuals) so ACTED decided to build four more rooms to give families more space and privacy. ACTED also installed solar panels. a rainwater harvesting tank, a water storage tank, and rehabilitated six bathrooms.

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