Heirs of Salt Industry in Hadramout

Successive generations practice its extraction
Ekram Faraj
September 11, 2022

Heirs of Salt Industry in Hadramout

Successive generations practice its extraction
Ekram Faraj
September 11, 2022

Some women in the coastal areas of the cities of Hadramout (southeast of Yemen) are still actively work in prospecting or extracting salt from sites near the sea. This is due to the length of the governorate’s coast, which is about 120 square kilometers, starting from the southwestern edge of the governorate, at the border with the radhoom district in Shabwa governorate in the east, and to the southeastern edge of the eastern Raidah district and Qussaiaer at the southwestern edge of Al Mahrah governorate.

However, the locations of natural salt do not include all coastal cities of Hadramout, as only some of them can be home for salt extraction, according to climatic factors that affect its production which represents a source of income for a number of women in the coastal areas of Hadramout.

Tough Profession

Umm Mohammad, a prospector for salt, says that she inherited a land located at the end of the city of Al-Hami in the Shehar District (eastern Yemen), where this land belonged to her ancestors, who were engaged in the craft of extracting salt from places called by the local and vernacular term (Al-Aiqah), which are places where Salt water is blocked in it, and then it evaporates to turn into large amounts of natural sea salt. 

In an interview with "Khuyut", she describes the process of salt extraction, in which basins are dug, which takes a long time, starting with excavation, and then filtering along the inherited salt lands. After the drilling process of the basins, the pits are left for the salty marine water to originate in, and then left for a while until the color of the water changes to several colors, from blue to red, and then to white. Then it is left for days to completely dry and get rid of all the water by exposing it to sunlight until it becomes a salt, which is called the "sedimentation process".

The salt mining profession represents a source of income for nearly 350 women in the Mayfa area of ​​Hadramout. These women go every morning to their work sites, travelling on small trucks for about 50 kilometers away from their residence.

At this stage, the salt is collected from the basins, filtered and cleaned of the plankton that may be sticking to it, as a result of leaving it exposed to sun abd dust for a long time. Finally, the pure salt is packed in bags and taken home, for later sale.

In this regard, Muhammad bin Juma'an, Associate Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Arts - Hadramout University, told "Khuyut" that the work that women do and their competition with male workers, especially in projects and quality works, is due to the poor living conditions that most Yemeni families suffer from, especially at present.

Source of income

The profession of salt mining is a source of income for nearly 350 women in the Mayfaa area in Hadramout. Every morning, these women go, traveling on small trucks, to their work sites, which are about 50 kilometers away from their area.

Women divide the tasks among themselves, and work in shifts in coming to the basins at specific times and certain days, given that this area, from which they extract salt, is uninhabited by the people who moved from those areas due to natural disasters. As a result, this deserted area remained a subject of investment and work, people who subsisted from it through the extraction of salt.

Bin Juma'an added that, these salt mining areas, which contributes to creating job opportunities for many, should be properly utilized by investing them in an organized manner. Besides, proper modern equipment and machines shall be provided to help them to complete their work quickly and easily, and away from any potential risks they may be exposed to.

For his part, Khamis Bahtroosh, head of the Al-Hussi Association, told "Khuyut" that the association's work begins after the people extract the salt, and packed in plastic containers and transported on small transport shipments to the association's laboratory. There the women clean it further, then fill it in plastic bags and prepare it for selling in the local markets. 

It is noteworthy that the production of salt during the summer in the coasts of Hadramout reaches to 20 tons, 170 tons in fall, in the winter 7 tons and in the spring about 3 tons only, and all this is due to the climatic conditions that greatly affect the process of sea salt water formation in the basins.

Bahtroosh added that, the association seeks to provide support to workers in this field, either by providing financial support or providing work tools. In addition to providing training courses aimed at training female members on making sea nets, drying fish and meat, how to manufacture salt fish, and other courses that enable women in the countryside to find suitable job opportunities for them, according to the available resources of the surrounding environment.

Ekram Faraj

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