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From rural to urban, the attractive choice for Yemeni youth (Part 1) (Report).

Internal emigration from villages to cities is a global phenomenon. Especially with the development of long distance transportation and telecommunication that allows people to stay in touch despite the distances. Migdad Mojali investigates this phenomenon in a three part series researching why youth travel to the cities, how this has hanged them and what happens to their farms and families back home in the countryside.

YT Photos by Amira Al-Sharif

During the past two decades cities, especially Sana'a, witnessed a large influx of youth coming from the country side seeking employment and better opportunities as well as the glamour of living in the capital city. According to official statistics, around one third of the two million inhabitants of Sana'a are temporary residents who come from the outskirts and villages from all around the country for work or education. This fact becomes quite visible during holidays and summer vacations as most of these immigrants return to their home in the villages leaving the main streets of Sana'a rater deserted.

The most prominent motives for rural youths to immigrate from their villages into cities is the shortage of water and population growth. In many districts of Yemen water has started to diminish since the late 1980s and caused drought in lands. As a result, people were compelled to decrease the farmed areas which led to a decrease in the family income and obliged youths to look for job opportunities in cities.

Khalid Naser Al-Hamdani left for Sana'a city when he found that the income of their lands hadn't become enough for the whole family due to the drought that has befallen their district since seven years. "I left my village and family to work here and be able to provide my family with their needs.

If I stay in my village and depend on the sources of my land, I will not be able to meet the needs of my family," Al-Hamdani stated.

Many youths in the eastern districts of Sana'a city like Nehm, Khawlan and Al-Hada left their villages looking for the drinking water in the city of Sana'a. Mohammed Al-Nehmi explained that he and his family suffered from the shortage of water for many years and tried to confront the shortage of water by bringing water by trucks from distant places but when he couldn't find water for drinking and washing, he decided to immigrate to the city.

The unemployment and the inflation of population are interrelated and considered main reasons for rural youths' travel to cities. During 1980s and beginning of 1990s most of the rural areas' youths weren't thinking of working in cities whether in the public or private sectors as the resources of their lands were more than enough and the rate of the individual's income was more than the salary of a manager of an administration. So, a lot of youths dropped out of schools and preferred to work in farms.

Due to the population growth, the rate of individual's income has decreased by the passage of time and hasn't become enough any more for the daily life requirements.

Therefore, many youths headed to the cities looking for the jobs which they have never thought to join before like working in the military sectors as soldiers.

According to sheik Ali Mohammed Rassam, 56, many youths in his village, Bani Ali, have migrated to Sana'a city looking for any job opportunities.

"In the past I remember that youths of my village didn't accept to join the governmental sector as their income at that time was more than the salary that the state would give them but now they are despairing for any job even as soldiers at the borders," Rassam stated.

Izz Al-Deen Al-Sumaie, 40, a major in the Yemeni army stated that by the beginning of 1980s youths of the rural areas had happy life and refused to join the governmental sector especially the military department and the state at that time resorted to catching youths from streets to join the military department but now youths of the rural areas offer tens of thousands to join the military sector.

Looking for good education is also an important motive for many youths of rural districts especially those who aspire to get university degrees.

Many complained that they don't have good education in their villages that may qualify them to join the scientific specializations in the universities to be able to get jobs in the future.

Therefore, they emigrate to cities and towns to join good schools and universities. Motleq Ahmed left his village to stay in Sana'a city looking for a school of scientific department to study his secondary school for the second time. "I finished high secondary school, arts department, two years ago and when I thought of joining university, I found that I have to join a scientific department to be able to get a suitable job after graduating. So, I will study the high secondary school again but scientific department," he said.

Some students complain of the shortage of school staffs which affect the quantity and quality of the knowledge they obtain. As a result, they take to emigrating to cities to get better education. Abdul Kareem Kasem expressed his regret that he couldn't finish his education and consequently couldn't get a job. So, he decided to prevent the same fate from happening to his brother and took him to the city to get better education and then to get a job and better life.

But despite having the right in looking for good education and better life, youths of rural districts are negligent of the stress they cause on the public services like hospitals, schools, accommodations and other institutions. Also for many some of the habits in the cities are somewhat a cultural shock especially if they have never travelled outside their village before....

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Publication:Yemen Times (Sana'a, Yemen)
Date:Apr 26, 2009
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