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20 April 2024

UAE aid helps Socotra development

Photo: WAM


Development aid provided to the remote Yemeni governorate of Socotra by the UAE has made a major impact in terms of improving the life of the local population, according to a report made available to the Emirates News Agency, WAM.

The report provides an overview of assistance co-ordinated by the Abu Dhabi-based Sheikh Khalifa Humanitarian Foundation, but does not include humanitarian aid directly provided by the Emirates Red Crescent following three devastating cyclones, Megh and Chapala, in 2015, and Mekunu in 2018.

Around 240 km. east of Somalia and 380 km. south of the coastline of Yemen, Socotra has an estimated population of around 70,000, most of whom live on the island of Socotra itself, which accounts for around 95 per cent of the governorate. Several hundred people live on the small islands of Abd el Kuri and Samha, to the west.

In this article, the first of two, WAM examines some of the developments overseen by the Sheikh Khalifa Foundation in terms of infrastructure.

One key area of activity has been the provision of electric power, with a new power station being built in the capital, Hadibu, and other smaller stations in the towns of Qalansiya, Mori and Alama. In Hadibu and Qalansiya, underground transmission lines have been installed, with above-ground networks linking Hadibu to nearby agricultural areas. Over 30 remote villages have been supplied with generators, bringing them electric power for the first time.

With a view to promoting sustainability, solar power stations have been installed in Hadibu and Qalansiya, with capacities of 2.2 MQW and 800 KW respectively.

The provision of safe water supplies has also been a focus of activity, with six water tanks, each with a capacity of 50,000 gallons having been built in Hadibu, Mori and other major villages while existing tanks in Hadibu, Qalansiya and Mori have been sterilised and cleaned. New distribution networks have been laid in several villages, while new artesian wells, each with storage tanks, have been drilled in over 40 villages.

To improve local transport in Socotra, two storage tanks, each with a capacity of two million litres, for petrol and diesel, have been constructed. Two petrol stations have been built in Hadibu and Qalansaya, with six others currently under construction. A facility to store fuel, all of which is imported, is now being built in Hadibu, along with a pipeline distribution network for major consumers.

Supplies of gas for cooking gas have also been increased, with a plant for filling gas cylinders being built. This is expected to have a positive impact on one of the greatest threats to Socotra’s unique and endangered environment – the cutting down of trees for firewood.

Socotra International Airport has been rebuilt and upgraded, with the provision of new buildings, including two hangars for aircraft, and a modern navigation system for the control tower, along with new facilities for Immigration, Customs and emergency services.

A fleet of six remotely-controlled gyrocopters has been introduced, which are used for search and rescue operations.

Besides aviation traffic, Socotra is also heavily dependent for its external communications on maritime traffic. The small port at Hoolif, east of Hadibu, has been upgraded, with a new 90 metre pier and with berths dredged to accommodate larger vessels. Introduction of a marine ferry service has also improved the island’s communications.

To support the local fishing industry, one of the main sources of employment, help has been given to the local fishermen’s co-operative, while a new fishmarket has been built in Hadibu. A new fish-processing plant can handle 500 tons a month, supplied from cold stores in fishing harbours by refrigerated transport. New fishing boats have also been supplied.

Work to improve internal communications has included the paving of streets in Hadibu as well as upgrading of an important road linking the north coast, west of Hadibu, across the Diksem Plateau, in the centre of the island, to the southern Nuged district. Repairs have also been carried out on roads damaged in recent cyclones.

In the second part of the report, WAM will examine developments in the fields of education and health.