Middle East

Make a living: salt provides a lifeline for Yemeni women

Mukalla, Yemen: A group of Yemeni women scoop up a handful of white crystals from a coastal pool to harvest salt. This is a traditional industry that has proven to be the lifeline after the Seven Years’ War. Zakiya Obeid is one of about 500 women working in the industry in a village overlooking the Gulf of Aden on the south coast of Yemen. “We are sisters and we know each other’s difficult situations, so we will work together to take the shift,” Obade told AFP.

With so few jobs, women take turns working to benefit more people. She said the women were divided into two groups, each working for 15 days and the other group resting. With bare feet and a muddy abaya robe, the woman digs a basin at low tide and returns when the seawater evaporates, dredging salt for packaging and sale.

Old-fashioned livelihoods have been passed down from generation to generation. It is now a means of survival and provides many families with their only source of income. Women earn about $ 100 a month by harvesting salt and packing it in plastic containers. Since the establishment of the Al-Hassi Association for Sea Salt Production in 2020, women have been able to transport, grind, package and sell salt throughout Yemen. “Until then, we were doing the same job, but we could only sell raw salt,” Obade said. “But that’s no longer the case, and the association provided us with bags and shipping.”

“The only source of income”

Since 2014, Yemen has been involved in a civil war between a Saudi-led military coalition-backed government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels, putting the country at risk of hunger. According to the United Nations, the conflict killed hundreds of thousands and evacuated millions. The United Nations calls this the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world.

Camis Bartoluche, president of the Al-Hassi Society, said women who produce 20-30 tonnes of salt every three months have become dependent on the industry. “Production is lower in winter than in summer,” he said. “Each bag sells for about 3,000 Yemeni rials ($ 12) … but we are suffering from inflation and there is no liquidity to procure them.” This is their only source of income … They have nothing else. They have no farms or livestock. “

The United Nations Population Fund states that the loss of male earners in the conflict has increased the difficulties women face. “The pressure is even greater when women and girls are deprived of basic education and vocational training and suddenly realize they have a responsibility to support their families,” he said. – AFP

https://www.kuwaittimes.com/scraping-a-living-salt-offers-women-lifeline-in-yemen/ Make a living: salt provides a lifeline for Yemeni women

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