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Microinsurance, Brick by Brick

I sit in a village in northern Ethiopia, surrounded by foothills covered with eucalyptus and cactuses. Camels wander in packs and hawks fly overhead. Bone-thin oxen and donkeys plod around wearily in the harsh sun. Stone is the single resource with no shortage—the houses and terraces are made from it and many of the fields look closer to a rock pits than arable land.

Micah Albert: Quenching Yemen's Thirst

I'm headed down to Bab al Mandeb—a narrow strait, spanning only 12 miles from the Middle East to Africa—to spend an afternoon with Abdalla Abrahem, a fisherman. He has spent is life trawling these narrow waters, but now he's forced to venture ever further afield, near Somalia and Djibouti, to support his family. Earning, at best, $10 a day, Abrahem lives along the arid Red Sea coastline in the small village of of Dobaba (pop. 600), a community in dire need of food assistance. I arrived in this area after a three-hour drive from Taiz, about 70 miles away from the coast, descending down more than 4,000 feet through a lush, winding canyon dotted with palm trees and camels. By the end of the journey, the temperature must have increased by at least 30 degrees. Upon arrival, it's shocking to see that a human life actually exists in the middle of this unforgiving landscape. Families try to scrape by on the wind-swept plain. It’s one thing to not have enough to eat, but another thing all together to have to buy your own water. Yemen isn’t just food insecure, it also faces a water crisis. Yemenis consume 2.8 billion cubic meters of water annually, but the nation's aquifers supply only about two-thirds of that. Yemen imports the rest. The western part of the country, where nearly 90 percent of the population lives, is expected to run out of water entirely in only ten years. In search of water, Yemenis are drilling deeper and deeper. The average depth of a well in the village of Dobaba is nearly 1,000 meters—compared with only 40 meters only two decades ago. Nothing about this village is sustainable; but  few can afford to travel the long distance to Taiz. And they can't pick up and move to the city, because their skill sets revolve around the sea.

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