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Yemen’s winning World Press Photo

18 Feb
Samuel Aranda’s winning photo beat off competition from more than 100,000 other entries.
Samuel Aranda’s winning photo beat off competition from more than 100,000 other entries.

Fatima Al-Qaws, is the veiled woman cradling her wounded son after an anti-government demonstration in October. She is also one of the subjects in Samuel Aranda’s winning World Press photo.

Al-Qaws, who is from Ba’dan district in Ibb governorate but lives in Sana’a, explained that she only found out about the photo after her niece phoned from the UAE – though she still did not realize the significance of the picture.

“I thought that the photo people were talking about was actually my appearance in an interview on Suhail TV and Al-Jazeera some months ago, so I did not pay much attention to it,” she said, but her niece insisted it was her and her son.

Al-Qaws explained that she first saw the photo on her son’s mobile phone and recalled the day of October 15 on Al-Zubairy Street – a conflict line between anti-regime protesters and security forces at the time.

“It was after an attack against demonstrators on Al-Zubairy Street,” she said. “I went to the field hospital and did not see my son among the dead or wounded protesters. I checked the place again and saw my son lying on the ground suffocated with tear gas,” she explained. “So I embraced him and [Aranda] must have taken the photo at that moment.”

Her son, Zayed Al-Qawas, 18, said he thought it was a joke until more people called to tell him about Aranda’s picture.

“I did not expect this photo to win among thousands of pictures and it is a real support to the revolution,” he said. “It demonstrates that Yemenis are not extremists.”

Helping Yemen

The Spanish photographer’s photo, which was taken while on assignment for the New York Times, beat off competition from more than 100,000 entries to win one of the most prestigious photography awards on Friday.

The New York Times’ Lens Blog wrote that after hearing the news, Aranda called his mother in Spain, who cried for 45 minutes. He said that “while conversations might revolve around composition and form”, he hopes it will help the people of Yemen. He also commented on the help he received from Yemeni photographers – specifically mentioning Mohamed Al-Sayaghi of Reuters.

Aranda, who now lives in Tunisia, covered the Arab Spring from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. In December, he presented a selection of Arab Spring photos at the Spanish Embassy in Sana’a, alongside freelance photographer Lindsay Mackenzie.

‘An intimate moment’

Koyo Kouoh, one of the jury members on the World Press photo board, said: “It is a photo that speaks for the entire region. It stands for Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Syria, for all that happened in the Arab Spring.

“But it shows a private, intimate side of what went on. And it shows the role that women played, not only as care-givers, but as active people in the movement.”

Nina Berman, another World Press judge, added, “In the Western media, we seldom see veiled women in this way, at such an intimate moment. It is as if all of the events of the Arab Spring resulted in this single moment – in moments like this.”

Yemeni photographers are also proud of Aranda’s achievement. “We feel proud of this photo because it is very important for the world to have a new impression of Yemen,” Nadia Abdulla, a freelance Yemeni photographer, said.

“The foreign media has been presenting Yemenis as terrorists but this is the first time Yemen’s beautiful and expressive side has been shown,” she added.

Setting the standard

The 2011 World Press Photo award is the 55th annual contest in what is universally recognized as the world’s leading photojournalism prize, setting the standard for the profession.

The contest draws entries by professional press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers from across the world, with 5,247 photographers from 124 countries participating this year and 101,254 pictures judged.

The jury awarded prizes to 57 photographers in nine themed categories, with the Arab Spring and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami both making a big impact.

All entries are presented and judged anonymously by 19 internationally recognized professionals over two weeks before the winners are announced.

Aranda will officially receive his World Press award in Amsterdam on Saturday, April. 21, 2012. The award also carries a cash prize of €10,000 and a Canon EOS Digital SLR Camera and lens kit.

An exhibition of the award-winning images will be open to the public at the Oude Kerk, Oudekerksplein, in Amsterdam on Friday, April 20, until June 17.

A worldwide tour of the exhibition will also be launched, covering a record 105 venues in 45 countries. Combined with a yearbook, distributed internationally in seven languages, the winning images will reach a worldwide audience of millions in the course of the year


Mobile medical team to benefit rural Yemen

18 Feb

USAID Assistant Administrator Mara Rudman (right), exploring the mobile medical vehicle with Dr. Jamila Al-Ra’ebi, Deputy Minister of Health and Population (left).

USAID Assistant Administrator Mara Rudman (right), exploring the mobile medical vehicle with Dr. Jamila Al-Ra’ebi, Deputy Minister of Health and Population (left).

Story and Picture by: Malak Shaher

SANA’A, Feb. 12 — Access to medical care is about to become easier for marginalized people and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) living on the outskirts of Sana’a, as mobile medical teams get back to work.

On Sunday, USAID said another of its mobile medical teams, run in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Population and the Yemeni Family Care Association (YFCA), would be returning to work in on the outskirts of Sana’a bringing better healthcare to the districts of Sanhan, Shoub and Bani Hareth.

The team, which will be serving marginalized residents in these areas, is one of 15 that USAID launched over the last year.

According to Mara Rudman, USAID Assistant Administrator for the Middle East Bureau, the team will be providing health care services to 2,000 people a month.

The team will be providing health primary care, maternal and pediatric care, diagnosis, immunization and medications free of charge, added Rudman.

The clinic-on-wheels “will serve those living on the fringes of the city of Sana’a, as well as internally displaced persons who have sought refuge in the districts of Sanhan, Shoub and Bani Hareth,” said Rudman.

Much of the team’s work will involves providing first aid and health care to women and children, according to Nabil Alammari, YFCA executive manager.

Yemen has the highest infant mortality rate in the Middle East, with 37 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the UN. The maternal mortality rate is even higher at 47 out of every 1,000 mothers.

Alammari said that the team, which was unable to operate throughout 2011, is the third that USAID has supported. The previous two have been working in Hajja governorate, north of Sana’a.

The Yemen Family Care Association is a non-governmental and not-for-profit organization, already operating seven mobile medical teams across different governorates.

According to the YFCA, the seven teams have helped more than 60,000 patients since it the scheme was established in 1976.

At the relaunch of the mobile medical service, Jamila Al-Ra’ebi, Deputy Minister of Health and Population, said, “The crises Yemen has gone through last year should make us work collectively to reduce the [maternal] mortality rate.”

She said that despite the fact that Yemen does not appear to be on target for its 2015 Millennium Development Goals, which include reducing infant mortality rates, improving literacy and reducing unemployment, the support it has received from international organizations such as USAID and the UN has helped women in remote, rural areas.

During 2011’s political crisis, only six of the 15 mobile medical teams were operating due to logistical issues and a lack of electricity. However, USAID said that all 15 would now resume work in Yemen’s remote and hard-to-reach regions.

Yemen poorest women and children involved in six-year plan

28 Feb
The Ministry of Health project aims to help women and children in rural areas and provide family planning advice. Frequent pregnancy contributes to Yemen’s high child mortality rate.

Malak ShaherPublished:28-02-2011

SANA’A, Feb.27 – A six- year plan by the Yemeni Ministry of Health and Population will involve a million of Yemen’s poorest women and children from rural areas, according to Ali Jahaf, general manager of the Department of Family Health.

The project, approved by the World Bank, will cost USD 35 million and be implemented over the next six years.

“Yemeni women in remote areas need help,” said Jahaf. “The project will involve the poorest women and children in six governorates over the six coming years.”

According to the World Bank the child mortality rate in Yemen is 69 deaths to every 1,000 live births, the highest rate in the Middle East and North Africa region. Yemen also has the second-highest rate in the world of child malnutrition for height and age. Maternal mortality is the second highest in the Middle East with 210 deaths for each 1,000 live births according to 2008 figures.

The project will be initiated in the remote areas of Sana’a this year and extend to other areas with the highest concentration of poor health indicators. It will involve the governorates of Ibb, Reima, Al-Dhale’, Al-Baydha and the slums of Aden. The project will also including the remote areas of these governorates after the six years.

Jahaf said that the ministry aims to send small medical teams consisting of: a doctor, a midwife, social worker and a person to register their findings of the field visits.

The visits, which will be held four times a year, will target pregnant women and their children under the age of five and will provide them with basic medication, vaccinations and awareness campaigns for family planning, added Jahaf.

Single educated Yemeni women hard at work to secure opportunities

9 Dec
More young women in Yemen are enrolling at universities and getting job opportunities. Female students at universities are up from 20 percent in 1990 to 37.5 percent in 2010. Photo by Sadeq Al-WesabiBy: Malak Shaher

Yemen Times


For Abeer Abdulla, a university student in her early twenties, completing her education and finding a job are more important than getting married.The dream of the majority of young women in Yemen, especially those who are educated, has shifted from getting married to getting a job.

This has increased the number of women in the labor force. Now, 63 percent of women in urban areas are either already working, or plan to in the future, according to a survey conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).

The survey data was collected from 1,993 women and 508 men in June and July 2010.

“I want to be financially independent. For me education and work are more important than marriage,” said Abeer Ahmad.

“Most of the time when a woman gets married in Yemen, she is asked by her husband to stop studying if she is a student, or stop working if she is an employee.”

While few women in Yemen participate in the workforce, more are interested in pursuing a career and this is particularly true among younger women. Women who study at university and engage in paid work are more likely to have the freedom to leave home, have greater financial security and access to credit, according to the survey.

The study mentioned that labor force participation among Yemeni women, both educated and uneducated, is extremely low, particularly when compared to men.

According to the Head of the Human Resources Department at the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, Abdulla Hazza’, women constituted 10.2 percent of the paid workforce in 2010. This is up from 9.6 percent in 2004, and 7 percent in 1999.

The survey by IWPR and IFES pointed out that participation in the workforce is higher among more educated women. Around 21 percent of women with high school and 48 percent of women with a university degree are working in the public or private sector.

Despite cultural traditions that restrict women entering the workforce in Yemen, factors such as income, access to educational facilities, and marital status may also influence a women’s choice to work. Around 38 percent of women in rural areas who were included in the survey intended to pursue a career.

“Women in Yemen are working hard to gain opportunities, along with men, to help their families and communities,” said Jane Henrici, study director from the IWPR. “More Yemeni women are getting formal education than in the past, and this seems to help with other opportunities.”

Female students represented 37.5 percent of students at universities in 2008, up from 20.5 percent in 1990, according to UNDP’s 2010 Millennium Development Goals Report.

Women with a higher level of education also tend to have greater access to health care. Around 51 percent of women with lower than a primary school education have access to health care. In contrast, 67 percent of women with a university degree or higher have access to health care.

IWPR and IFES conducted the survey research as part of a project on ‘The Status of Women in the Middle East and North Africa’ with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Building the minds of Yemen’s orphans

6 Dec
Orphans at Dar Al-Aytam read books in their new library, established on Thursday.

Malak Shaher

Yemen Times


“We are the seeds of this country, we will make our country prosper, we love knowledge and we spread love everywhere.”

With those words hundreds of orphans hailed the arrival of a new library to Dar Al-Aytam, a state funded orphanage in Sana’a. The children were listening to a song and as it drew to an end they said in one collective and excited voice, “I love books.”

The new library, established on Thursday, is part of the “I love my book” campaign, run by Global Change Makers, a British Council initiative.

This year, the campaign has targeted three public schools, one private school, a school for special needs students and the Orphan House in Sana’a, according to Elham Al-Quhali, a project assistant at the British council.

“We found that the children are thirsty for knowledge and reading,” Al-Quhali told the Yemen Times. “They want to be pushed forward and we want to continue this program. We urge other organizations to join forces with us.”

At the library’s opening, small boys were pushing each other and rushing to get inside the new library. Hamza Mohammad, 9, could barely contain his excitement. “These books are beautiful,” he said with a sparkle in his eyes. With books I learn new things.”

Mohammed Al-Shami, the head of Dar Al-Aytam, stressed the significance of this ‘generous gift.’

“This library has added greatly to our school, which now contains many more subjects for learning,” Al-Shami said. “With the establishment of this library, our orphans will occupy a place in others minds. People will be able to imagine them reading.”

The campaign is coordinated by young members of Global Changemakers and financed by the British council.

Global Changemakers formed in 2007, is a British Council initiative, aimed at providing support for young social entrepreneurs and community activities.

“Books build the minds of small children,” said Haitham Al-Thobabi, 22, a member of the Global Changemakers.

The campaign also involves establishing a reading club and targeting schools and the publishing of a quarterly magazine. The magazine will consist of the children’s writings and be distributed in the schools and supporting organizations.

It will create cooperation between teachers at the school libraries where students will be introduced to new books and encouraged to read.

“Most children in Yemen are not used to reading and the only books they do read belong to the school,” said Najeba Haddad, Yemen’s deputy minister of culture.

Illiteracy rates are increasing among small children in Yemen, according to a recent report by the Yemeni Shura Council. Around two million children are not enrolled in school and a large number of students drop out during their early years of schooling in order to work to support their families.

According to Hadad, it is important to instill a motivation to read in children from a young age who otherwise wouldn’t develop this important habit.

“I encourage the efforts of such campaigns because they involve more children and make reading interesting for them,” she added.

Boys and girls sing a song about the importance of reading at the library opening day.  TY photo by Malak Shaher

Six NGOs receive funding to combat qat consumption

16 Aug
Malak Shaher
Yemen Times


SANA’A, 10 August — Hana Al-Adimi, 28, head of the Third Eye Center, expressed her happiness as she obtained funding to combat qat consumption.

Qat is a leaf  containing an amphetamine-like stimulant that produces a burst of energy and  euphoria. Many Yemeni men and women spend their afternoons on qat breaks. The cultivation of the plant sucks up 30 percent of the country’s water supply used in irrigation. 90 percent of the water in Yemen used for that purpose.

The Third Eye Center and five other non-government organizations are being funded by the World Bank’s Civil Society Fund. The organizations aim to combat qat consumption though producing advocacy materials such as brochures, sketches, songs, posters, caricatures, television adverts and documentary films.

Qat consumption causes a number of social problems in Yemen. It directly contributes to poverty as it consumes a significant part of a family’s budget in the place of other basic necessities. As many qat chewers are addicted to the leaf, they place the purchase of qat above that of other commodities needed by them and their family.

Qat consumption also has a negative effect on the national budget. In agriculture, qat cultivation consumes almost 30 percent of the available ground water, and dominates a large proportion of arable land as farmers plant it due to its quick returns. Land used in qat consumption cannot be used for edible crops that could feed the country reducing reliance on imports, or generate export income.

The financial support of NGOs intends to combat qat as part of the government’s third socioeconomic development plan for poverty reduction 2006-2010. The plan intends to reduce qat consumption in a gradual balanced way, encouraging people to voluntarily abandon qat for their own benefit.

The World Bank Country Director in Yemen, David Craig, stressed the important role played by NGOs in the development of their country, especially their dealing with issues such as qat. He explained that they are close to their own society and know exactly what points of deficiency their societies suffer from.

”The society trusts them because they have direct relations with it,” he said.

Experts discuss improving education in Yemen

22 Jul
Malak Shaher
Yemen Times


SANA’A, July 21 – Abdulraheem Abdullah, 44, believes that his daughter should not stay in school after she passes sixth grade because it is only necessary for her to read and write.

Anouf and Ahlam on their way back from school
Sayoun, Hadramout  – (Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam

Like Abdullah, there are thousands of Yemenis who believe that their daughters do not need to continue their education. Thus, their daughters leave school by the time they reach the sixth or even the fifth grade, and this increases the school drop-out rate in Yemen.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, joining forces with the World Bank, held a workshop about the future of education in Yemen.

“There is a problem regarding education in Yemen. We should admit it in order to solve it,” said Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Abdulkareem Al-Arhabi, in the workshop.

The Senior Education Specialist at the World Bank, Liangin Wang, said that there must be a fresh policy in order to come up with a successful strategy.

“The Ministries of Education, Civil Services, Finance and the governorates should work collectively to detect the flaws in the previous strategies that did not help Yemen improve its educational situation over the past 12 years,” she explained.

According to the Education Status Report published by the World Bank, the number of girls who drop out from schools exceeds the number of boys, and less girls actually enroll in schools in the first place.

“This can be explained in terms of the traditions that govern people’s lives. Most families, especially in the rural areas, prevent their daughters from studying when they get to the sixth grade,” said Hamoud Al-Sayani, the consultant to the Minister of Education.

Al-Sayani said that the number of female students and male students is nearly the same throughout primary schools before the sixth grade in Yemen, especially in the rural areas. However, many believe that sixth grade is the maximum level of education their daughters should achieve.

However, not only girls drop out of school: Boys also leave school due to financial difficulties. According to the report, since 2005, the number of boys who left school increased as their standard of living became worse.

“In the end, boys also drop out of school to work and help their families. The real problem regarding the educational situation in Yemen is the large number of students who drop out, not the number of students who enroll. As most of the people in the rural areas are poor, they are in need of financial help from the government,” he commented.

However, Lamya Al-Eryani, deputy minister of education for girls’ education, told the Yemen Times that helping poor people in rural areas by giving them food to make their daughters enroll in school does not necessarily encourage them to allow their daughters to continue studying.

“It is good to help people,” she said.  “However, this way does not work with some people. If they do not get the support each month, they come to the ministry and have a sit-in with their families demanding the support. Simply, these people need to believe that education is the way to get rid of poverty.”

The participants in the workshop also listed the most important difficulties facing education, the first of which is to improve the quality of education in Yemen.

One problem in the educational system, according to Tawfiq Al-Mekhlafi, lecturer at Sana’a University, is that primary school teachers are often less qualified than secondary school teachers. In Al-Mekhlafi’s view, the more qualified teachers should be in the primary schools.

According to a recent international assessment, the levels of achievement in school in Yemen are quite low. In fact, the percentage of students who can read well does not reach 90 percent until the seventh grade.