Qat is grown over large areas in Yemen’s Sanaa Basin. The crop is highly water-intensive and has depleted groundwater levels across the area.
This pushed farmers in the Areesha valley to build a dam in 1995. Regardless, the water tables continued to dip. To improve the efficiency of water-use, the Sanaa Basin Water Management Project provided drip irrigation systems to Qat farmers. Its impact, however, was limited as well.
In response, the farmers renovated the dam in 2008 and formed a water users association. They mutually framed certain rules limiting groundwater extraction and use by individuals. It is hoped that this restrained use will strike equilibrium with recharge levels, and bring sustainability to water use in the area.