By: Faez al-Makhrafi
Translated by: Mahmoud Assamiee
JAWF, August 20- ( Saba)- A visitor of Jawf governorate, 170 kilometers northeast of the capital Sana'a, is surprised seeing women with a belt of bullets on their waists for the arms they carry. In this governorate you can see everybody, men, women and even children carry weapons on their backs.
Local officials say that Jawf is only a big building for the governorate affairs (without basic services and development) though 47 years have passed since realizing Yemeni revolution on 26 of September 1962. They said the governorate is only a "basket for concerns, and a tragic image of negligence."
City for ghosts
Jawf's visitor, for the first time, does not know that the governorate lacks the very basic services. Al-Hazm city, the center of the governorate, has only one paved street without lightening, hotels, buildings markets… etc.
"Ma'een Inn" is the only small hotel many workers coming from other governorates are pouring to. It is owned by a person from Ebb governorate. "This inn is very crowded during the night. Mostly, laborers from other governorates sleep in," said a worker from Taiz.
There are only two restaurants in the city, four barbershops and four telecommunication centers. If you come to these restaurants after 12 pm, you will not find anything to eat so that you are forced to return to al-Harazi shop and cafeteria to buy biscuit and juice as lunch.
There is no public transportation in the city and all streets are paved except one asphalted road, the main street. The visitor uses motorcycle for transportation. But he will not find internet shops if he wants to communicate with his family members.
The city has two main markets, one for Qat and the other is for vegetables. Shepherd women are more curious than men to be educated. "Jawf's girl carries gun when she reaches the ninth grade, at 15 and carries gun (at this age) fearing of revenge," said a female teacher.
Jawf, history and civilization
With flatlands elevations and desert climate for having part of Empty Quarter desert, the governorate is very hot in summer and very cold in winter. It has a history of civilization for it was the homeland of Ma'een Kingdom. It is rich in archeological sites like Qarnaw, Alkhirba Albeidha'a, Alkhirba Assawda'a and Braqesh.
The governorate's area is 39,495 square kilometer with population of 443,797 persons distributed on 12 districts, according to 2006 census.
"The governorate is 20 years back of Yemen and has not received the country's care only in President Ali Abdullah Saleh Era," said first deputy governor of Jawf Mansour bin Abdan." The president was the first to lay foundation stone for the service project in the governorate. Three parties are contesting for Jawf, the National Front, neighbors and Imamate. Every party has its special agenda on the governorate."
Highway robberies and tribal vengeances
No one forgets the deadly battle occurred between two tribes in Jawf desert in 2004. The clashes between Al-Saida and Maraziq tribes lasted for hours and led to killing 15 and injuring 40.
The governorate witnesses increasing tribal vengeances and blocking roads. In nearby districts to Hazm city, the center of the governorate where main roads cross it, citizens believe that their location here is force source because they control these roads by blocking them.
In once highway robbery incident to tribes in Hamdan coincided holding conferences of local authority last May, ten armed men who carried light and heavy arms pitched a tent near the road and put a barrel in the middle. They did not leave the road only after ministry of interior responded to their demands.
Before holding local council elections last June, Secretary General of Jawf Local Council Abdul-Wahab al-Sharif was killed. He came to office via tribal agreement not through democratic one and since that time, the post of secretary general still vacant. Three governors have alternated the post since 2008 governors' elections.
Tribesmen here return to their sheikhs to solve their issues, especially chronic ones which include blood because judiciary is unable to solve them, said former parliament member Ali Shutaif.
There are persons who have military cards with salaries do not exceed YR 1000 while guards of borders have salaries reach only YR 7000. Deputy Director of Jawf Security Abdullah al-Fagghami says he has known this governorate since 1980s and remembers well how military men were roving the governorate safely but says "today, the situation has changed completely."
Negligence versus improvement
Khab Sha'af district is the most deprived district from basic services while Barat Al-Enan district is more developed.
Despite that Khab Sha'af is the greatest district in terms of the area and the number of population, statistics show that the number of students registered in secondary schools are less than a thousand and 8000 in basics education.
Despite increasing classrooms, there is no increase in students' number. Many observers believe that increasing poverty rates are behind students' abandonment to study and return to Saudi Arabia for work.
According to citizens, Saudi Arabia grants nearby tribes aid via annual program called " al-Fakkah" through which the beneficiary receives a card enabling him to receive assistances and facilitations.
Khab Sha'af district is the location of most architectural sites on governorate level. The district also has desert tourist components. The antique sites are Jabal al-Khisi or al-Khisi mountain on which the name of the prophet is inscribed. There is also al-Aswad al-Ansi village and ten caves and inscriptions. Despite al these components, the government have not carry out any tourist program because of tense and unstable situations between tribes.
According to Governor Hssuein Hazeb, this district has no local council since 2006 elections due to tribal differences. But Barat al-Enan district has benefited more by having good highway when it was geographically linked to Sana'a governorate.
Like Hazm-Rajouza, the governorate main road faces tribal highway robbery which is described by Hazeb as "besides delay from the company which is carrying out the project, there are highway robberies. "If some one in the company has a demand, he must come to us and we will cooperate with him instead of hindering the project," he added.
In Barat al-Enan, there is trade market governed by traditional law. This market has contributed in improving the district more than counterparts. It is much more district than others to accept the local authority system. Its local council's revenues are equal to incomes of all the rest governorate's districts, according to its director Ahmad al-Ansi.
State's absence in Barat does not pose a problem as the case in other districts. There is government and educational complexes, security department, offices for education, health, social insurance, public works and telecommunication but the real problem is the lower percent of those who are attending schools.
Only four percent of population has access to electricity
According to reports from the governorate, total costs of infrastructure projects in Jawf did not reach YR 2.5 billion during the period 2003-2008. The electricity in Jawf does not cover 4 percent of the population with the government expense on this project of only YR 500,000.
Hazm citizens say that generator is expiring and always has faults leading to repeated electric blackouts. However, the General Director of Jawf Electricity Ali Muqri says" Members of Parliaments who represent Jawf and also Sheikhs are not cooperative in following up the general corporation for electricity to expand the network."
He affirmed that electric output increased from 255 kilo watt to 3,5 megawatt but he refers to absence of maintenance which makes the real energy as 600 kilo watt, hardly can cover the capital of the governorate.
Literacy and Education
According to a study prepared by Peace and Development Charity, 49 percent of children in school age do not attend school and 51 of them study in schools with shortage of school books, teachers and buildings.
Despite that the number of students who are registered in schools are 33893, those who attended the secondary schools are only 5995 students with very lower percentage of female students. Traditions and customs are against mixing male with female students so that many girls left study after finishing six level of basic education despite the governorate registers high number among those female who want to study.
The governor complains form administrative issues. "We faced the parliament for stopping transfer 186 teachers wanting to leave Jawf and there are directives not to transfer any one only with an alternative. There are hundreds teachers absent and the directors of education offices help teachers to leave schools and then shoulder the governorate's leadership the responsibility. Our problem is administrative one, most procedures are wrong besides that officials apprehend laws and by-laws. Even, some general managers refuse to give others authorizations.