School children in Abyan, January 17, 2023 (South24 Center)

The Reality of Services in Abyan Between the War and Absence of State


Thu, 09-02-2023 01:17 PM, Aden

Raad Alrimi (South24)

On the Roadsides, there are piles of firewood, which is widely used for cooking food in Abyan, east of the capital city of Aden. For its visitors, Abyan looks worn out and severely wounded by the battles which broke out several times over the past decade.

In many places, the lives of people are similar through their simple features. They said that most services they receive are provided by international organizations which operate in the governorate while Abyan suffers because of the absence and the weakness of the supposed governmental role, especially in rural areas. 
A pile of firewood at a roadside in the city of Zinjibar in Abyan, January 16, 2023 (South24 Center)

Local officials didn’t conceal the dire reality in Abyan. Many of them gave details about the central government’s neglect and failure while avoiding speaking about their role which is criticized by several residents. 

Most governmental buildings are concentrated in the capital city of Zinjibar and the city of Jaar.

Moreover, most reforms and the construction work by the international organizations are concentrated in the same districts while there is a remarkable absence in other districts, especially the central ones. 

In this report, “South24 Center” monitors the service and living conditions in Abyan following a field tour that lasted more than one week in which we directly contacted the reality and met with local officials in the governorate. 


In Abyan's capital city Zinjibar, electricity availability average is 3 hours each 6 hours. This is the best rate in the winter which is characterized by low loads. However, in the neighboring and rural areas, power outages exceed 12 hours while being available for two hours. 

Resident Mohsen Ahmed Al-Kawthari conveyed to “South24 Center” his feelings of resentment. 

He said: “Although electricity is supposed to be at its best in winter, we find it at its lowest level. During summer and the hot season, power outages last most of the day. This is repeated every year without reaching a solution".

Mahmoud Makish, General Manager of the Electricity Corporation in Abyan said: "The electricity problem in the governorate is a strategic one".

"This problem affects the whole country, but its tragic conditions are more evident in Abyan. Many of the power conversion stations in the city of Zinjibar and other districts were destroyed. It can be said that what Abyan has obtained over 60 years was devastated by the AQAP and the Houthi wars," he added.

Makish noticed that the entire available power electricity in Abyan currently is only 39 megawatts. He added: “The power infrastructure in the governorate is not owned by the government but is rented. However, the government pays for fuel”.

As for the revenues of this sector, Makish said: “Electricity’s consumption in Abyan is distributed as follows: “30% for the commercial sector, 40% for the citizens and 30% for the governmental facilities”. He indicated that “the commercial sector is the one which pays the bills”. 

He added that: "the monthly revenue of the electricity’s commercial sector does not exceed 400 million”. 

The local official accused the Yemeni government of breaking pledges related to implementing electricity projects. He said: “The crisis of Abyan electricity necessitates resuming building the projects pledged by the government such as the project to enhance the system with 30 megawatts which has not been implemented since 2018 despite the promises”.


Although Abyan constitutes one of the highly productive groundwater reservoirs at the level of Yemen, residents complain about the scarcity of water access to their homes.

“The reality of water in Abyan is very bitter" according to Abdullah Kulaib, a local citizen speaking to “South24 Center”. “Imagine that Al-Mahal itself, the hometown of President Salimin in Zinjibar, has no water like several other areas which suffer from the same problem,” he added.

In the headquarters of the Water and Sanitation Corporation in Zinjibar which is the only governmental building that was constructed since 2015 after the previous one was demoralized by war and which was taken as a temporary headquarters for the local authority, we met with the director of the corporation's Director, Eng. Saleh Mohammed Belaidy.

He told "South24 Center" that the problems of water in Zinjibar are attributed to the random sprawl of urban construction".

Residents in the city of Zinjibar in Abyan, January 17, 2023, (South24 Center)

He added: "The western coast areas in Zinjibar which suffer from water paucity have witnessed recent urban expansion. They have no water network or sewage. Construction there was carried out in a random way. They have no approved building license from the Ministry of Public Work".

He claimed that “Abyan is the only governorate which has water all the time while it is available for limited hours in other governorates”. He added: “Most support by which the corporation operates comes from the international organizations, funds and international associations such as the Kuwaiti Society”.

He pointed out that “35% of water supplies are consumed by citizens without paying bills while the private sector consumes 15% and pays smoothly. The rest percentage (15%) is allocated to the governmental bodies including schools, mosques, and the health sector”.

The local official criticized the role of the Ministry of Finance adding that the “ministry obliges the Water Corporation to cover 40% of the employees' salaries. However, the ministry itself declines to pay the corporation’s entitlements related to the government’s bodies including the costs of using the water service”. 

Belaidy indicated that Abyan lost opportunities for water projects which are externally funded due to the residents’ failure to pay the bills. According to him “Germany froze a 32 million Euro- project due to the lack of indications of project sustainability which is mainly based on revenue collection and maintenance work”.

However, the Water Corporation, run by Belaidy is not the only one specialized in this sector. There is also the Rural Water Corporation which provides 80% of water supplies in the governorate that has a rural majority according to the Deputy Director of the corporation Hussein Taha Hussein. 

Hussein told “South24 Center”: “Our main problems today are our needs to provide fuel supplies in addition to the rehabilitation of some projects, such as digging new wells, expanding old ones, and the urgent need for a solar system.

Recently, Saba News Agency said that “there are current preparations to launch work in the strategic Hassan Dam Project in Abyan Delta whose first phase costs 78 million $ funded by the UAE through the Abu Dhabi Fund. The project would raise the groundwater level in Abyan”.


Like water services, the governmental health sector has been widely criticized by Abyan residents who spoke to “South24 Center”.

Local resident Salem Al-Mahwari said: “Public sector doctors are paid low salaries which push them to search for better income through signing contracts with organizations that often work in the countryside. We, as residents, just receive medical examination in the public hospitals and health centers.”

During his field tour in Al-Razi General Hospital in the city of Jaar, which is the biggest public hospital in the governorate, South24 Center’s reporter monitored severe shortage of capabilities in terms of technology and infrastructure, in addition to medical staff. 

Al-Razi Hospital in the city of Jaar in Abyan, January 19, 2023 (South24 Center)

Dr. Saleh Qassem Al-Tarm, Director General of Health and Population in Abyan told “South24 Center” that “the number of the health centers in the governorate is 44 including 9 hospitals, a public hospital, and a corporation. The general health conditions reflect the deteriorating reality of the country”.

Al-Tarm reveals that the health sector in Abyan has not received health dues for four months from the Ministry of Health because of the latter's dispute with the Ministries of Finance, regarding the provision of medicines."

He warned of the expansion of the service deterioration adding that: “there has been no new employment in the health sector in which the retirement rate has risen to 86%”. He asked: “How can a health sector be managed with a capacity which does not reach one third in a governorate that has witnessed two wars and has received no allocations from the local authorities or the central government”. 

Al-Tarm called on the government to respect its pledges by implementing the mother and child Hospital project in Abyan”.


The road to Abyan draws the features of the painful conditions in this governorate which is the hometown of 3 presidents who governed this country over the past decades. 

Sand dunes crawl towards the main line which connects the capital, Aden, with the southeastern governorates. The sand dunes caused dozens of accidents among travelers and residents”. 

During the field tour, “South24 Center” monitored neglect by the local authorities and the Yemeni government towards the removal of these sand dunes, and paving the secondary roads that link the governorate areas with each other.
Sand dunes cover the international road in Abyan, January 16, 2021 (South24 Center)

Moreover, Important parts of the main road and secondary roads are still devastated by the battles amid the spread of holes and cracks. 

Residents expressed to “South24 Center” their discontent towards the road projects in the governorate as they doubted their seriousness. 

One citizen said: “All projects don’t go beyond patching holes in the roads. No real projects have been implemented except for the Zinjibar Market Project in front of the governorate”.

“South24 Center” contacted Eng. Ahmed Al-Hamati who declined commenting. He said that he doesn’t have much to do and referred us to the government and the funds affiliated with it.

The repeated wars with AQAP and the Houthis in the province as well as the battles between the Southern forces, and the governmental forces affiliated with the Islah party in 2019 and 2020 have led to the decline of the service, and the economic reality in Abyan. 


The reality of education in Abyan for example is not better than others if not worse according to educator n Abdullah Kulaib. 

The sector suffers from low salaries for teachers, lack of school seats for students, and the exacerbation of the phenomena of cheating and the alternative teacher. There is also a problem similar to the health sector related to the organizations.

According to Kulaib, the organizations provide some teachers with additional salaries that reach the level of 50 $ in addition to their governmental salaries whose average is 50 $. 

“South24 Center” sought to contact the Director of the Education Office in Abyan to ask for the problems related to this sector but he was outside the governorate during the field tour. 

Children in an Abyan school, January 17, 2023 (South24 Center)

Technical and vocational education had enjoyed wide popularity among Abyan locals, especially in the rural areas. However, the AQAP wars in the governorate devastated this according to the director of the technical education office in the province, Mahdi al-Juhami. 

He told “South24 Center”: “There are 8 technological and industrial institutes at the level of Abyan distributed in different districts. All of them had worked until before the AQAP war in 2011. They were completely devastated. All equipment, workshops and buildings were looted”.

He added: “Recently, restorations have been made by us with the cooperation of the province’s local authorities. Some classrooms were equipped for some departments at the lowest cost so that we can re-teach students with the minimum available”. 

He pointed at the special importance represented by these industrial and vocational institutes, especially for the industrial and agricultural sectors. He indicated that studying in these institutes has much popularity among the Abyan’s girls. He added: “The percentage of girls for some majors, such as agriculture, hairdressing, and others, reached 95% of all applicants”.


Like other Southern provinces, Abyan relies upon a communication company which works from Sanaa in the far north controlled by the Houthis, with a service level below average, especially in rural areas. 

Mohammed Ahmed Roys, Director General of the Public Telecommunications Corporation in the province told “South24 Center”: “there is a shortage of the technical staff in the sector as the government suspends employment. We lack vehicles and technical equipment”.

Buildings devastated by AQAP wars in 2011 in Zinjibar in Abyan, January 20, 2023 (South24 Center)

He indicated that “Measures from the Ministry of Interior prevented the provision of 1,500 connection and internet points belonging to companies operating in Sanaa, after hindering the passage of devices and equipment from Seiyun in Hadramout under the pretext of ensuring that the Houthis do not obtain more revenues”. 

Food prices

Food Prices in Abyan are not different from the capital, Aden. However, the prices remarkably vary among districts. Furthermore, the purchasing power for most residents is low and weak.

One local said that he is unable to purchase a monthly food stock. He added: “I buy my family's food needs on a daily basis and according to my ability. I've been doing this for many years”. 
A local market in the city of Zinjibar in Abyan, January 19, 2023 (South24 Center)

“Few meters separate us from the sea” according to another resident who denounced the expensive fish prices in Abyan despite its closeness from the sea. He added: “We have become unable to buy fish which are exported abroad in front of people”. 

Fish export and scrapping operations in the Southern coasts have led to a hike in its fish prices within the local market. Government’s promises have been repeatedly pledged to stabilize the prices of fish and marine life. Recently, PLC Chairman announced the establishment of a committee for this purpose.

Governorate leadership

To convey these problems monitored by “South24 Center” to the governorate local authorities, our correspondent met with the Deputy Governor and its Secretary General Mahdi Al-Hamid because Governor of Abyan, Major General Abu Bakr Hussein was abroad during the visit. 

The official largely blamed the conditions in Abyan, including the confrontations with AQAP and the Houthis, for the deterioration of the situation. He added: “The infrastructure in the governorate was destroyed. Many houses were damaged and led to an internal displacement wave”. 
Secretary General Mahdi Al-Hamid with South24 Center's correspondent

As for the service problems in the governorate, Al-Hamed said: “They have been accumulating for years. We don’t have a magical stick to solve them. It is the responsibility of the central government. Abyan has paid the price of political conflicts and has been an arena for war. It has to be treated fairly today”.

So far, many governmental buildings in Zinjibar and Jaar have not been restored. Displaced people live in a number of these buildings, such as the former governorate building, the insurance building, the criminal investigation building, the former water corporation building, and others.

Over the coming days, “South24 Center” will publish subsequent reports which will shed light on more details about Abyan, particularly in the security, political and military aspects.

Raad Alrimi

Journalist at South24 Center for News and Studies 

This report is part of a series of field reports from Abyan by “South24 Center”.

South YemenAbyanServicesAQAP