Desalination of Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Seawater to Mitigate the Fresh Water Crisis in the Yemen Republic

  • Angelo MinissaleEmail author
  • Dornadula Chandrasekharam
  • Mohamed Fara Mohamed Al-Dubai
Part of the Springer Oceanography book series (SPRINGEROCEAN)


By the year 2025 Yemen’s per capita water availability will be around 89 m3/year and the country will be highly water stressed. As a consequence, economic status of the farmers involved in qat (also referred as khat) cultivation, a product that supports 25% of the country’s GDP, will fall below the poverty line. With declining water table, the Mesozoic–Cenozoic aquifer of Yemen will be unable to support irrigation and the geothermal reservoir too will decline due to excessive withdrawal of water. A solution to this problem is to develop the geothermal resources around Damt and Dhamar to support desalination of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden seawater to generate fresh water to contribute to the country’s food and energy security. Damt and Dhamar silicic volcanic sites have the potential to generate more than 134 × 106 kW of electricity. Fresh water generated through desalination using geothermal sources and wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) will give the country food and energy security and reduce dependence on food imports.



This study was possible thanks to many organizations that have provided funds for travel in Yemen, including UNESCO and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Geological Survey of Yemen, namely its director Dr. Ismail Al Ghanad and Dr. Mohamed Mattash, are warmly thanked, especially the latter for all the work in the field in 2001, 2002, 2007 and 2008. The University of Sana’a is also thanked for providing a grant to M. F. Al-Dubai for travel to Italy. We thank Dr. Najeeb Rasul for inviting us to write this chapter and his patience in extending the time of submission.


  1. Abu-Madi M, Al-Sa’ed R (2010) Toward sustainable wastewater reuse in the Middle East and North Africa. Cons J Sustain Dev North Am 2.
  2. Albaroot M, Ahmad AHM, Al Areeq N, Sultan M (2016) Tectono-stratigraphy of Yemen and geological evolution: a new perspective. Int J New Tech Res 2:19–33Google Scholar
  3. Alderwish AM, Dotteridge J (1995) Recharge components in a semi arid area: the Sana’a Basin, Yemen. In: Robins NS (ed) Groundwater pollution, aquifer recharge and vulnerability. Geological Society of London. Special Publication, vol 130, pp 169–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Al-Amri AMS (1994) Seismicity of the south-western region of the Arabian Shield and southern Red Sea. J Afr Earth Sci 19:17–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Al-Kebsi A, Chandrasekharam D (2000) Saltwater contamination in the coastal aquifer, Tihama Plain, Wadi Surdud, Yemen Republic. In: Bjerg PL, Engesgaard P, Krom, TD (eds) Groundwater 2000. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 223–224Google Scholar
  6. As Saruri MA, Baraba R, Sorkhabi R (2010) Sedimentary basins of Yemen: their tectonic development and stratigraphic cover. Arab J Geosci 3(4):515–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bosworth W, Huchon P, McClay K (2005) The Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Basins. J Afr Earth Sci 43:334–378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bosence DWJ (1997) Mesozoic rift basins of Yemen. Mar Petrol Geol 14:611–616CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown L (2011) World on the edge: how to prevent environmental and economic collapse. Forthcoming publish, p 240Google Scholar
  10. Camp VE, Roobol MJ (1992) Upwelling asthenosphere beneath western Arabia and its regional implications. J Geophy Res 97:15255–15271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chandrasekharam D, Bundschuh J (2008) Low enthalpy geothermal resources for power generation. CRC Press, p 149Google Scholar
  12. Chandrasekharam D, Lashin A, Al Arifi N, Al Bassam A, Ranjith PG, Varun C, Singh HK (2015) Geothermal energy resources of Jizan, SW Saudi Arabia. J Afr Earth Sci 109:55–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chandrasekharam D, Lashin A, Al Arifi N, Al-Bassam M (2016) Red Sea geothermal provinces. CRC Press, p 221Google Scholar
  14. Chandrasekharam D, Lashin A, Al Arifi N, Al-Bassam AM (2017) Desalination of seawater using geothermal energy for food and water security: Arab and Sub-Saharan countries. In: Gude G (ed) Sustainable desalination handbook: process design, implementation strategies. Elsevier (in press)Google Scholar
  15. Coulié E, Quidelleur X, Gillot P-Y, Courtillot V, Lefèvre J-C, Chiesa S (2003) Comparative K–Ar and Ar/Ar dating of Ethiopian and Yemenite Oligocene volcanism: implications for timing and duration of the Ethiopian traps. Earth Planet Sci Lett 206:477–492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dalziel IWD, Grunow AM (1992) Late Gondwanide tectonic rotations within Gondwanaland. Tectonics 11:603–606CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Davison I, Al Kadasi M, Al Khirbash S, Al Subbary A, Baker J, Blakey S, Bosence D, Dart C, Heaton R, McClay K, Menzies M, Nichols M, Owen L, Yelland A (1994) Geological evolution of the southeastern Red Sea rift margin. Bull Geol Soc Am 106:1474–1493CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dawoud MA, Al Mulla MM (2012) Environmental impacts of seawater desalination: Arabian Gulf case study. Int J Environ Sustain 1:22–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. DowgialloJ (1986) Thermal waters of the Yemen Arab republic. Geothermics 15:63–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. EIA (2016) How much carbon dioxide is produced per kilowatt hour when generating electricity with fossil fuels? US Energy Information Administration.
  21. Fara M, Chandrasekharam D, Minissale A (1999) Hydrogeochemistry of Damt thermal springs, Yemen Republic. Geothermics 28:241–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fara M, Lloyd JW (2002) Yemen: an example of the dilemma of water resources in an arid zone developing country. Yemen J Sci 3(2):33–45Google Scholar
  23. FAO (2002) Irrigation in the Middle East region in figures—AQUASTAT Survey 2008. Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations, p 14Google Scholar
  24. FAO (2005) Aquastat irrigation in Africa in figures—AQUASTAT Survey 2005, p 89Google Scholar
  25. FAO (2009) Groundwater management in Yemen draft synthesis report, p 13Google Scholar
  26. Fiorenza G, Sharma VK, Braccio G (2003) Techno-economic evaluation of a solar powered water desalination plant. Energy Convers Manag 44:2217–2240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Foster S (2003) Rationalizing groundwater resource utilization in the Sana’abasin of Yemen. In: Sustainable groundwater management, lessons from practice. World Bank, Cross Profile Collection 2, p 12Google Scholar
  28. Gatter P (2012) Politics of qat: the role of a drug in ruling Yemen. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, Wiesbaden, Germany, p 862Google Scholar
  29. Giesecke C (2012) Yemen’s water crisis: review of background and potential solutions. USAID reportGoogle Scholar
  30. Giggenbach WF (1988) Geothermal solute equilibria. Derivation of Na-K-Mg-Ca geoindicators. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 52:2749–2765CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gislason SR, Eugster HP (1987) Meteoric water-basalt interaction II: a field study in NE Iceland. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 51:2841–2855CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gude VG (2015) Energy storage for desalination processes powered by renewable energy and waste heat sources. Appl Energy 137:877–898CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gude VG, Nirmalakhandan N, Deng S (2010) Renewable and sustainable approaches for desalination. Renew Sustain Energy Rev 14:2641–2654CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hall JE, Ebaid R (2008) Effluent and sludge management in Yemen. In: Al Baz I, Otterpohl R, Wendland C (eds) Effluent and sludge management. Springer, Berlin, pp 65–79Google Scholar
  35. Hofmann C, Courtillot V, Féraud G, Rochette P, Yirgu G, Ketefo E, Pik R (1997) Timing of the Ethiopian flood basalt event and implications for plume birth and global change. Nature 389:838–841CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. IRENA (2012) Renewable energy technologies: cost analyses series: Solar Photovoltaic. IRENA Working Paper, Power sector, vol 1, issue 4/5, p 52Google Scholar
  37. Kalogirou SA (2005) Seawater desalination using renewable energy sources. Prog Energy Combust Sci 31(3):242–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kennedy JG, Rokaw W, Teague J, Cooney E (1983) A medical evaluation of use of qat in north Yemen. Soc Sci Med 17:783–793CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kruck W, Schaeffer U, Thiele J (1996) Explanatory notes on the geological map of the Republic of Yemen—western part. Geol Jahrb B87Google Scholar
  40. Langelier W, Ludwig H (1942) Graphical methods for indicating the mineral character of natural waters. J Am Water Assoc 16:141–164Google Scholar
  41. MAI (2012) A promising sector for diversified economy in Yemen: national agriculture sector strategy 2012–2016. Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, p 104Google Scholar
  42. Mattash MA, Vaselli O, Minissale A, Ad-Dukhain A, HazzaM (2005) The first geothermal resources map of Yemen, at a 1:125000 scale. Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources, Sana’a, Republic of YemenGoogle Scholar
  43. Meert JG (2003) A synopsis of events related to the assembly of eastern Gondwana. Tectonophys 362:1–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. McCombe DA, Fernette GL, Aalawi AJ (1994) The geological and mineral resources of Yemen. Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources, Geological Survey of Yemen, Sana’a, p 128Google Scholar
  45. Miller JE (2003) Review of water resources and desalination technologies. Sandia National Laboratories, SAND 2003-0800, p 54Google Scholar
  46. Minissale A, Mattash MA, Vaselli O, Tassi F, Al-Ganad IN, Selmo E, Shawki NM, Tedesco D, Poreda R, Ad-Dukhain AM, Hazzae MK (2007) Thermal springs, fumaroles and gas vents of continental Yemen: their relation with active tectonics, regional hydrology and country’s geothermal potential. Appl Geochem 22:799–820CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Minissale A, Vaselli O, Mattash MA, Montegrossi G, Tassi F, Ad-Dukhain AM, Kalberkamp U, Al-Sabri A, Al-Kohlani T (2013) Geothermal prospecting by geochemical methods in the Quaternary volcanic province of Dhamar (central Yemen). J Volcanol Geotherm Res 249:95–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. MOMRY (Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources of Yemen) (1995) The water resources of Yemen Republic. Report WRAY 35, Sana’a, Yemen, p 108Google Scholar
  49. MPICY (Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation of Yemen) (2006) Central Statistical Organ, Statistical Year Book 2006. Republic of Yemen, Sana’aGoogle Scholar
  50. MWEY (Ministry of Water and Environment of Yemen) (2005) National water sector strategy and investment program (NWSSIP) 2005–2009. In: Yemen National Water Supply Plan. Republic of Yemen, p 228Google Scholar
  51. Plakfer G, Agar R, Asker AH, Haulf M (1987) Surface effects and tectonic setting of the 13th December 1982 north Yemen earthquake. Bull Seismol Soc Am 77:2018–2037Google Scholar
  52. Shahin M (2007) Water resources and hydrometeorology of the Arab region. Springer, p 601Google Scholar
  53. Shrestha E, Ahman S, Johnson W, Shrastha P, Batista R (2011) Carbon footprint of water conveyance versus desalination as alternatives to expand water supply. Desalination 280:33–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Stern RJ (1994) Arc assembly and continental collision in the Neo-Proterozoic East African orogeny. Ann Rev Earth Planet Sci 22:319–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Stern RJ, Johnson P (2010) Continental lithosphere of the Arabian Plate: a geologic, petrologic, and geophysical synthesis. Earth-Sci Rev 101:29–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sporry RJ (1991) Groundwater exploration on the mountain plains of Dhamar and Rada in the Yemen Arab Republic. Geoexploration 27:135–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. UNESCWA (2013) Inventory of shared water resources in Western Asia. UN-ESCWA and BGR (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia), Beirut, p 626Google Scholar
  58. UNDP/DESD (1992) United Nations development programme/department of decade of education for sustainable development, 1992. National water legislation and institutional issues project YEM/88/001, Final Report, vol II. Rept High Water Council, Sana’a, YemenGoogle Scholar
  59. Van der Gun JAM, Ahmed AA (1995) The water resources of Yemen—a summary and digest of available information. Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources, Yemen, and TNO Institute of Applied Geosciences, Netherlands, p 108Google Scholar
  60. Ward C, Gatter P (2000) Qat in Yemen—towards a policy and action plan. Document of the World Bank, p 108Google Scholar
  61. Wagner W (2011) Groundwater in the Arab Middle East. Springer, p 472Google Scholar
  62. WHO (World Health Organization) (2000) Global water supply and sanitation assessment GWSSA 2000 Report. WHO and UNICEF (UN Childrens’ Fund), p 80Google Scholar
  63. WM (2017) Yemen population, elaboration of data by United Nations, Department of economic and social affairs, population division. World population prospects: the 2015 revision (Medium-fertility variant). Accessed on 12 July 2017
  64. YNWA (Yemen National Water Authority) (2000) Sustainable water resources management in Yemen. In Proceedings of workshop on sustainable groundwater management in the Middle East and North Africa, June 26–29, Sana’a, Republic of Yemen, p 13Google Scholar
  65. Zhou Y, Tol RSJ (2004) Evaluating the costs of desalinization and water transport. Research unit sustainability and global change, Hamburg University, Working Paper FNU-41, revised Dec 2004, p 14Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angelo Minissale
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dornadula Chandrasekharam
    • 2
  • Mohamed Fara Mohamed Al-Dubai
    • 3
  1. 1.CNR-Italian Council for Research, Institute of Geosciences and Earth ResourcesFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.Indian Institute of TechnologyHyderabadIndia
  3. 3.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesSana’a UniversitySana’aRepublic of Yemen

Personalised recommendations