The United States Government, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, has completed a major rehabilitation of Imam Al-Shafi School in the Al-Rawdha neighborhood of Sana’a. The more than 1,300 girls and boys in grades one through nine who attend Imam Al-Shafi are already benefitting from major renovations through funds provided by the American people.
The renovations of 16 classrooms at the school included installing new windows, new doors, electric wiring and lighting fixtures. In addition, 18 latrines have been repaired and a computer lab with 15 workstations has been installed. The computer lab receives its electricity through a rooftop solar panel that will soon also provide power for a digital projector, laser printer, fluorescent lights, and a school microphone and amplifier system. The solar panel’s batteries store enough energy to power the computer lab for two days. Solar technologies are extremely promising method to provide electricity without relying on costly diesel. For a country like Yemen, solar power holds great potential, especially given the country’s ideal location for optimizing the absorption of the sun’s rays.
A rooftop harvesting system that collects water and stores it in a 50 cubic meter underground cistern has also been installed. The water from the cistern is used in a drip irrigation system which provides water for the school gardens.
Rooftop water harvesting system works by utilizing flat roofs to capture rainwater, funnel it to a storage tank, and then directly consume that water for garden or external use. In Yemen, the technology has been around for centuries, as ancient Yemeni highlanders used cisterns to harvest rainwater. However, the practice has largely fallen into disuse in the last half-century. If captured, rainwater in the city of Sana’a and its surrounding basin could amount to millions of liters of clean water. Given the critical water shortage issue that Yemen is facing, there is a serious need for water conservation and management technologies such as rooftop rainwater harvesting in the country.
The Al-Shafi school renovations, completed through the U.S. government’s Agency for International Development (USAID), is the latest in a series of Community Livelihood Project initiatives; it brings to seven the number of Sana’a schools with rehabilitations and rooftop water harvesting systems funded through the U.S. government. The initiative expects to provide repairs and rooftop water harvesting systems at an additional 18 schools (17 in Amran and one in Al Dhalee). In total, the U.S. government has rehabilitated 240 schools in Yemen.