Yemen is considered to face one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world as a result of the ongoing conflict, which has led to significant internal displacement, food insecurity, localised epidemics, and a shortage of key essential services.
In coordination with the Yemen Displacement Response (YDR) consortium partners DRC and NRC, Acted is implementing activities in IDP hosting sites to respond to displacement-related needs. Acted is engaged in a full range of Camp Coordination and Camp Management activities under this European Union funded project.
In the Hosh Derhim IDP site in Aden, Acted has implemented numerous activities in the sectors of Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene (WASH) and Camp Coordination & Camp Management (CCCM) for the 324 families living in the site. One activity was to install a caravan which will be used as a Community Center. Previously, the site did not have a common area for residents, leaders, and NGOs to meet or to spend time together.
The Community Center caravan hosts Community Committee meetings during which the representative site committees discuss relevant issues and advocate for their community. These Community Committees are elected democratically in each site and include various demographics including women, men, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The committees serve to discuss ongoing issues in the sites, identify needs, disseminate messages and news amongst residents. They also serve as focal points for external communication with Acted, other humanitarian agencies, and local authorities.
Prior to the Community Center caravan, there was no dedicated space for meetings and site residents frequently had to sit under the scorching sun or clear out one of their shelters to accommodate gatherings. This led to information loss and disorganization as there was no clear place for people to meet, store documents, or file complaints.
The Community Center is also used to discuss the existing needs on the site, and to coordinate interventions with different humanitarian actors and government officials.
Residents can go to the Community Center to safely and anonymously lodge requests, questions, feedback, and complaints. Acted collects, processes, and responds to the comments and complaints, referring them to external humanitarian organizations and authorities as necessary. This feedback is then taken into account for future activities.
The caravan is solar powered. It is entirely furnished, has air conditioning, and contains emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers and First Aid kits. It is a secure place to store important records and documents, as well as a battery powered by the solar panels which operate the lights and air conditioning, as temperatures during the summer in Aden are regularly above 40 degrees Celsius. This caravan is now an integral element of the Hosh Derhim site.
Before, the organisation was a bit chaotic. Now thanks to the caravan, we are more organised in our work as a Community Committee and are able to better help our community.
The Community Center caravan has become a gathering place for the people living on the Hosh Derhim site. There, they can gather, meet and share ideas. Having been displaced from their homes, the opportunity to form a new sense of community is a relief to many. It brings some normalcy back to their lives.
One event in particular has left a mark on the minds of the residents: the 2022 FIFA World Cup. It was the first time in history that the World Cup was held in the Middle East, was a great source of excitement for many football lovers in Yemen. In the Hosh Derhim site, many residents were anticipating the tournament well in advance and came up with a plan to celebrate it together.
The residents plugged a television into the caravan’s solar battery and brought mats, chairs, and refreshments to watch the games together. Every night of the tournament, many men and children from the community gathered to cheer on their favourite teams. They also invited some of their non-displaced local neighbors from Aden to watch the games with them, which helped them integrate and gain acceptance from their neighbors.
We were very excited when Morocco reached the Semi-Finals. As they lost, in the final match (France vs. Argentina), we were cheering for France. We were a little sad when Argentina won, but we still had a lot of fun
Events like this can help displaced populations integrate into their new communities, restore a sense of normalcy and create fond new memories. This unexpected and creative use of Acted’s caravan demonstrates how important interventions such as this EU-supported project are in the lives of displaced population.
*All names have been changed to protect personal identities.