News / Middle East

'Cleaning-Climbers' Promote Green Tourism in Yemen

Locals joke that Yemeni trees are actually blue and red, the color of the plastic bags that you get when you buy qat, a mildly narcotic leaf, and the Yemeni national past time.

Multimedia

Audio
Heather Murdock

As Yemeni scientists watch with horror, major cities are running out of water, and pollution and erratic weather patterns are destroying farmlands.  And while permanent solutions are nowhere to be found, a new style of tourism offers a small comfort: a "cleaning climb." Hundreds of tourists, students and professional climbers gathered this morning to rock-climb in the Yemeni mountains, while picking up the trash that pollutes the local water and soil.

In Yemen's ancient villages, where most of the people in the country live, there is often not a lot- not a lot of money, not a lot of water, and not a lot to do.

There is, however, and abundance of garbage. In this village tucked into a rocky mountainside, piles of household refuse tumble down the winding streets and pollute the otherwise picturesque gardens and terrace farms.

Locals joke that Yemeni trees are actually blue and red, the color of the plastic bags that you get when you buy qat, a mildly narcotic leaf, and the Yemeni national past time. But this morning, for the first time in a long time, a few of the trees were green.

Some of the people rappelling down this mountain have never rock-climbed before and the crowd cheers as they land. They came to the village to clean up the trash, climb the massive rocks atop the mountain, and later have a picnic.

Cleaning and climbing

Addie Byrum, a NGO worker from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania says the idea is to gather adventure/travelers looking for good times, and combine the event with good works. Before hitting the rocks, climbers donned plastic gloves and garbage bags and sent trucks, loaded with about 400 bags to the local dump.

"I think the climbing thing is good to bring people here and get them interested. But the cleaning is probably the most useful part of this whole thing," said Byrum.

In Yemen, when you finish your soda, it is customary to toss the can onto the street. And while much of the countryside in the remote, largely undeveloped country remains pristine, garbage in the villages piles up almost unchecked.

Environmental awareness

Joshua Maricich, the head of the Yemen Adventure Club, the organization that ran this event, said that by bringing tourists, expats and villagers to clean it up together, he hopes the event will begin to foster a culture of environmental awareness.

"We need education in these villages. They don't like having their villages being filthy. Someone just needs to give them a little spark," he said.

More than 50,000 children die each year in Yemen because of diseases caused by water pollution. Malaria, diarrhea, and typhoid- water-related diseases that are not fatal in First World countries- cause half of the child deaths in Yemen.

Pollution, drought and erratic weather patterns caused by climate change have already decimated much of Yemen's farmlands. And many say the beleaguered nation is soon to have the first capital city without any clean drinking water. Yet despite these pending and ongoing disasters, environmental awareness remains rare in a country where half the people live on less than $2 a day.

Sixteen-year-old Mota, like many of the school children who live in the village, came to help visitors clean. Mota says if the village is clean, more tourists will come, and bring income to the desperately poor area.

When the targeted area was cleaned up Thursday morning and the first truck was loaded, village children suggested they take more bags into other neighborhoods. But the suggestion was lost on the older teenage cleaners, who raced up the mountain to start rock climbing and repelling.

But in their enthusiasm, it became apparent that Yemen's habit of dropping trash could not be broken with one event. Many of the teens dropped their plastic gloves on the mountainside along the way.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid