Institutional development of the water sector

Programme description

Title: Institutional development of the water sector (WSP)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Yemen
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE)
Overall term: 2006 to 2017


Yemen is suffering an acute water crisis exacerbated by conflict. The drinking-water supply and sanitation services are inadequate, as is the management of water resources. National sector institutions, regional and local water suppliers, and water basin committees are only able to carry out their responsibilities to a limited extent. Agricultural irrigation, especially for the cultivation of qat, consumes more than 90% of already scarce water resources.

Political unrest and deteriorating security conditions since 2011 are having adverse effects on the sector. The Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) and the sector institutions are only partially capable of fulfilling their mandates. A decentralisation process, which was initiated before the crisis, has now come to a standstill. Regional and local water corporations and utilities are struggling for survival, and integrated water resources management has become an extremely difficult task to accomplish.


The implementation and steering capacity of relevant water institutions is improved.


The programme is currently working in three main areas.

  • The first, overarching component supports the development of water sector policies and strategies, and pursues efforts to improve coordination in the sector.
  • The second component deals with decentralised water resources management (DWRM). It focuses on the creation of financially viable regional and local structures in order to improve the management of over-exploited water resources.
  • Finally, in the third component, the programme addresses the country’s huge urban and peri-urban water supply and sanitation problems. Here, the main focus is on improving service provision by local corporations and utilities, enabling them to provide safe, reliable and affordable services.

The programme’s main partners include the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE), as well as regional and local water sector actors, such as the national water resources management authority (NWRA), and a number of urban water utilities and water basin committees. The programme’s activities consist of targeted and conflict-sensitive capacity building measures, including international, regional and local advisory services, and capacity development in the fields of coordination and organisational development. Gender mainstreaming and human resources development are integrated as crosscutting issues.

All measures are implemented in close cooperation with KfW Development Bank as well as the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR). The programme also collaborates with other significant donors and development partners in the sector, mainly the World Bank, the Netherlands and relevant UN organisations.

The consulting firm GOPA Infra supports the implementation of the project.

Results achieved so far

During the conflict-affected transition period, GIZ’s interventions have attempted to strengthen the performance of partner institutions and other actors in the sector. By offering adapted approaches to the delivery of technical advice at different levels, the programme has supported the development of the capacities needed for dealing with the crisis situation. This has contributed to the maintenance of basic services for the Yemeni population, including those who are marginalised and affected by the conflict.

The Ministry of Water and Environment has prepared and submitted the water vision for inclusion in the national dialogue. The national strategy is also being reviewed and updated to cope with the current transitional requirements.

As a result of the close cooperation between NWRA, the water basin committees, local coordinators and a number of self-organised community groups, the incidence of illegal well-drilling in the Abyan basin has fallen by 80%. This complements various other grassroots initiatives successfully implemented in Amran basin area.

Earlier support for 16 urban utilities and local corporations has contributed to the maintenance of a basic water supply and sanitation services for more than four million people in urban and peri-urban areas, including the capital city Sana’a. That support has also helped sustain the basic operational functionality of the providers, even today. Current plans focus on the five or six biggest urban utilities, including the Sana’a Local Corporation.

Through continued technical support, complemented by infrastructure and emergency aid projects financed through KfW Development Bank, more than 50,000 people, including disadvantaged and internally displaced people, still benefit from sustained access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation services. The targeted involvement of women in these measures has helped integrate their particular needs, while strengthening their role in planning and implementing water and sanitation measures.