YPC News   •   September 4, 2008

Yemen is projected to be the first Arab country that will use up all of its groundwater, but no-one knows exactly when the water table will dry out or fall beyond a viable level for human use.

In a race to shape public opinion, the government has developed a national mascot to encourage water conservation.

Rowyan is an animated raindrop, a cheery cartoon character with moustache and headdress. His wife, Rowyana, has curling eyelashes. She carries a handbag and wears a veil and full-length black robes.

“Rowyan is one of the tools we’re using to promote public awareness,” says Salim Bashueib, chairman of the National Water Resource Authority – which issues licences for new water wells and uses a satellite tracking system to monitor the movements of drill rigs.

“People won’t respect the laws on water use if they don’t understand the scale of the problem and the reason for compliance.”

Visual impact

Yemen’s national water conservation campaign is one of the first to be launched in the Middle East.

“It’s a new approach,” says Jochen Renger, head of GTZ’s water sector programme in Yemen. GTZ is a German development organisation that invented the mascot in co-operation with the Yemeni government and the United Nations Development Programme.

“All over the world, water issues are tackled by engineers, who focus on pipes and pumps. We wanted to complement their technical expertise by introducing Rowyan as the flagship of the National Water Resources Authority.”

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