Though progress has been hindered by Yemen's ongoing war, reconstruction work in the former al-Qaeda bastion of Abyan province is now well under way.
Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Dagher and other ministers visited the southern province on April 28th to inspect and inaugurate projects as part of the government's reconstruction process.
"Abyan’s institutions were destroyed by al-Qaeda, but we will bring them back to health, because the wellbeing of Abyan is part of the wellbeing of Yemen," bin Dagher said in a speech delivered during his visit, reported by local media.
He announced a decision by Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi to support the reconstruction fund for Abyan and rebuild what was destroyed.
A total of two billion riyals ($8 million) has been earmarked for the first stage, to be followed with the disbursement of an additional two billion riyals in the second phase, bin Dagher said.
"Despite the difficult circumstances we are going through, we laid the foundation stones for a number of projects a few months ago, and we have come today to inspect those projects and lay the foundation stones for others," he said.
"We also allocated four billion riyals ($16 million) for reconstruction in Abyan, starting immediately, because we care for Abyan, which has sacrificed more than any other province," he added.
"Things will change for the better," he promised.
Yemen's commitment to Abyan
Abyan province "has been true to the legitimate government, and now the legitimate government has come to repay the debt", deputy governor Abdul Aziz al-Hamza told Al-Mashareq.
The federal government "has kept its word to Abyan province with the reconstruction process, which started months ago", he said.
"The government approved an increase in the amount allocated for reconstruction from two to four billion riyals, to compensate the people of Abyan for their suffering and patience during the war against al-Qaeda and subsequent events," he said.
The government previously approved the initial matrix of projects devoted to rebuilding state and service institutions, with plans drawn up soon after Abyan’s liberation, al-Hamza said.
"After the situation in the province was stabilised, we submitted an additional matrix, bringing the total cost to four billion riyals, which is the amount the government approved recently," he added.
Repairing public sector buildings
Reconstruction projects include the repair of all state buildings in the province, so they can resume the provision of services to residents, al-Hamza said.
They also include the repair of all education sector buildings, including schools and technical education and vocational training institutes, he added.
He noted that 95% of these projects are under way, with those institutions set to resume their activities within the next month.
Among them are two technical institutes, two health centres, a number of schools and a number of tourism projects, including the President Salmeen Corniche, he said.
A water project is expected to serve the residents of Zinjibar and al-Khanfar for 20 years, he added.
The government also has approved funding for service and development-related projects, including the resumption of electricity to the municipalities of Modiya and al-Wadea, road building and the Ahwar and Jaishan power plant projects.
A committee has been formed to assess the process of rebuilding residents’ homes and property, al-Hamza said.
Restoring vital facilities
Zinjibar district director-general Ghassan Sheikh told Al-Mashareq the inauguration of a power station will help the district in the summer months.
Notable reconstruction projects include the Martyrs Stadium in Abyan, the sports arena, the closed arena, the College of Education and the corniche, he said.
Once these projects are completed, they will restore Abyan's vitality, he said, and will provide residents with beneficial activities that will keep them away from extremism and dubious activities.
"Abyan residents are hoping to be compensated for all the suffering we endured, especially during the al-Qaeda war and its rule over the cities of Abyan in 2011," government employee Mohammed Haidera al-Badawi told Al-Mashareq.
"Under al-Qaeda’s rule in 2011, we were displaced from our homes in Zinjibar and Jaar, and some even left with just the clothes on their backs," said al-Badawi, a native al-Khanfar district.