22-27 September 2019
Trade Fairs and Congress Center (FYCMA)
Europe/Madrid timezone

Fresh Groundwater Resources for the Future Generations of Yemen

23 Sep 2019, 11:30
Multiuse room 2 ()

Multiuse room 2

Oral Topic 2 - Groundwater and climate change Parallel


Dr Yusuf Al-Mooji (Freelance consultant)


Unlike most regions in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen receives appreciable quantities of freshwater due of its position within the migration pathway of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Heavy rains of around 600 mm/a on average fall over the densely populated western part of the country, denoted here as the Red Sea Zone (RSZ), where about 90% of the population live in major cities or small towns and villages scattered throughout the highland plateau areas. These precipitation events occur mainly as tropical storms during July - September when the southwesterly low-level summer monsoon winds transporting moisture from the Southern Indian Ocean sweep across the country. Heavy rains that can be as high as 1 500 mm/a in the escarpment areas, feed directly the shallow alluvial aquifers in the intermontane areas which, in turn, replenish the underlying deeper and more extensive Cretaceous Sandstones with fresh water. Further down on the coastal areas along the Red Sea, surface water runoff and flash floods descending through major wadi channels percolate into alluvial aquifers extending across the Tihama Plain. It is estimated that a total of about 3.5 billion cubic meter (BCM) per annum of renewable water resources (2 BCM surface water and 1.5 BCM groundwater) is currently generated in Yemen, mainly in the RSZ. This is a substantial volume of freshwater for a country that is predominantly arid to hyper-arid. Yet Yemen has one of the worst water crisis in the world. The very rapid increase in population since the early 1960s continues to put pressure on the availability of freshwater resources, which currently stands at 73 m3/inhab/a. This demographic pressure on the renewable water resources will be compounded by the effect of climate change in the near future since Yemen is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Climate change models predict a steady rise in temperature as well as an increase in variability and intensity of rainfall. This paper looks into the potential effect of climate change in Yemen, both negative and positive. It summarizes the different scenarios of climate change impacts proposed for the country within the context of a probable northward migration of the ITCZ, which would bring more heavy summer rains spreading throughout the entire country. Finally the paper describes the result of recent investigations that shows the occurrence of relatively shallow and unexploited non-renewable groundwater resources of excellent quality in the country, and proposes that these resources should be further explored and developed for providing the future generations in Yemen with fresh water, particularly in the heavily populated RSZ.

Primary author

Dr Yusuf Al-Mooji (Freelance consultant)

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